NaNoFeed: The Stopwatch and the Word of Honor

The whole secret of being a professional writer is showing up to work. Whether you call it BIC (Butt in Chair) or daily practice, it consists of two simple components: the stopwatch and the word of honor.

You make an appointment with yourself, and you keep it. For those of us with so-called Real Lives, it can feel really weird to spend time in imaginary worlds with imaginary people and their equally imaginary problems, when we could be dealing with something … er, real.

The stopwatch and the word of honor take that dithering out of the equation with the simple thought: you have an appointment. For my part, this is being written on lunch hour, and I have the alarm on my cell phone set to ring in about five minutes to remind me that I have to pack my stuff up to go back to the office and deal with somebody else’s problems. Within the container created by the stopwatch, though, I run full tilt (just like a sprinter!) to get as much writing in before it rings.

Containers, physical and temporal, make us feel safe, and they create pressure. We’re not devoting the whole day to writing, just this hour, or half hour; we’re not doing it everywhere, just in the place where we find ourselves just now.

And those little pieces add up… in my case, to something on the order of 25 hours a week. During the month of November, I’ve pledged to work 100 hours on my NaNoWriMo project as well as other writing projects. That 25 hours a week takes me over the half-way point to full time (40 hours a week). And that’s just writing time. I’ve actually spent a fair bit over that in networking, reading writing-related business books. But the core is the writing itself, and that’s carved out thirty to sixty minutes at a time.

The stopwatch just rang, so my appointment with the writing muse is over, and I’m back to work on the other account… otherwise known as Ye Olde Day Jobbe.


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