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Monday, 14 January 2013

Maximising Productivity

Last week was a pretty productive week for me. I'm going to try an alternating system as far as word production is concerned. So a week on the novel then, perhaps, two weeks on the PhD. My old system of PhD during the day and writing in the evening stopped working late last year. I'm not quite sure why but it may have something to do with the fact that every time I had to 'switch gears' it took me longer and longer to get from one project to the other. I was getting too enthusiastically involved with my PhD (not a bad thing) and, more often than not, didn't want to stop working for the evening. I wanted to finish a point or finish some secondary reading or find something. Then, all of a sudden, time's disappeared and my fiction writing suffered as a result. Equally, on the days during November when I was forcing myself through NaNoWriMo my fictional focus was very strong and I didn't want to do anything else. So, it seems a new way must be sought.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy as saying 'pick a priority'. For several reasons, I can't do that, not least because I'm lost when I'm not involved in writing a story. If I'm working towards the aim of publication then I need to put 49% of my effort into my fiction, the other 51% belongs firmly to the PhD (for illustrative purposes here we're forgetting the other things I need to do this year for the time being). I mean, this is simpler than it looks. Yes, I have babysitting duties (which doesn't feel much like duty most of the time) but I have a woeful lack of a social life. In fact, my grandmother asked this weekend if '[I] only have one friend' before hastily adding 'round here' when she realised it sounded a little harsh. Well, yes, I do and that's probably all the better for my productivity.

I don't know if a week is the best time to spend on one thing before switching. What I do know is that last week I devoted myself to editing the middle of a novel and managed 19,907 words in seven days. This was the most finicky part of editing too - when earlier changes have been made to character and plot and you spend hours trying to make sure everything follows and that the whole makes sense. I long for the days when I was simply shredding my plot to pieces and didn't have to worry about the detail. Nevertheless, that concentrated effort brought that draft up 64,432 words so another concentrated effort in a week or so will finish that draft off. Then I get the out-loud read through which annoys the dog no end but we'll deal with that hurdle when we come to it.

We'll see if this new system holds me. I suppose it depends how enthusiastic I get at any given time about any given thing. However, my novel is all packed away again and I'm all ready for a week on the PhD now. Wilkie Collins and Edmund Yates better watch out...

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