Just 7 days to the start of frenzied typing. Just 7 days to get myself ready for this year’s month of writing dangerously. As part of my preparations, I’ve decided to set myself a daily writing task: 7 bits of advice for myself that are useful during any month. With luck, this won’t be a case of “two would have been enough”.*
This one’s obvious, which is why it’s first on the list. I’ve quoted Tolkien before and happily repeat myself: “It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”
The corollary is that a job frequently interrupted, delayed, set aside, or otherwise unattended to will eventually be forgotten and abandoned. I suspect we delay or give up on difficult tasks because the end point is so far away. It’s a bit like seeing a steep hill ahead of you as you cycle along a road. The climb to the apex looks impossibly steep, and you become breathless before you’ve even begun. You could turn back, but you want to reach what’s on the other side. Then you get to the start of the hill and it isn’t impossibly steep yet, and you keep going, your eyes NOT focusing on the hilltop but just a few yards before you, perhaps even counting pedal strokes, and then you find yourself at the top wondering what all the fuss was about.
NaNoWriMo doesn’t require participants to write every day, but the daily word-count goals (just under 1700, or about 6 pages) make the task seem doable. If I think about writing 50K words (180+ pages) in 30 days, my eyes cross and my computer recedes into a tunnel. But if I write just 6 pages, and then just 6 more — pretty soon I’m looking at a manuscript!
*Nabokov, in a letter to his wife, about T. E. Lawrence’s book.