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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Productivity Forecast

Me:  My goal for Hawthornden is 100 pages.
Mumsy:  Sounds do-able.
Me:  In a month of no internet? Definitely.
Mumsy:  Then why not make it 200?


The free one always tastes the best.

Happy New Year! I’m in Edinburgh until Sunday, when I head out to Hawthornden for my four-week residency. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be here, and how excited and grateful I feel to have this opportunity!

Contrary to plan, I won’t be working on the new novel, although I am still doing research for it at the National Library this week. Instead I’ll be revising (and greatly expanding) the novel I “finished” back in August. I hadn’t really expected anything to come of it, but it turns out the book is much better than I judged it. So I can’t really feel disappointed at not being able to throw myself into the new book when I’ve gotten so much lovely praise and thorough suggestions on this one!

Actually, I’ve heard it said that you get the most out of a residency when you’re already waist-deep in a project, and that makes sense. I might end up having a more productive month revising than I would have scratching out the first few chapters of a brand-new book. So I’m taking it as a sign that the new novel needs more time to marinate.

How does one squeeze every last drop of potential out of four weeks of perfect freedom? Here’s a contradiction for you: I expect that my productivity level will be inversely proportional to the amount of energy I expend worrying over said productivity. When I spend the earliest minutes of the morning clearing my mind of whatever psychic gunk might be left over from the day before, I’ve made space for new ideas to take root. Oftentimes “doing nothing” is way more fruitful than a determination to meet unrealistic or irrelevant goals.

In other words…no word counts!

Things I want to try this time around:

1. Writing longhand as much as possible. I’ve printed out the manuscript, and I want to rearrange it the old-fashioned way, with new scenes on looseleaf paper. (Yup. Definitely no word counting.)

2. Surfacing out of sleep much more slowly, and scribbling down even the least coherent fragments of dreams before I stretch or meditate or take a drink of water. The more I recognize this as an intuitive process, the “easier” it seems to flow for me.

3. This might sound contradictory given what I wrote above, but: sticking to a schedule. Mornings and early afternoons are for writing and revising, late afternoons for reading. I used to think I worked best late at night, but nowadays I don’t think the time of day matters in the slightest. I just like the feeling of putting in a good day’s writing before noon. I’m not sure where daily exercise will fit in, but I’ll figure that out.

No need for Mac Freedom this time–there’s no internet access at Hawthornden, period.

I’ll be back in February. Wish me luck!

p.s.–Comments are switched off on this and all other entries on the front page of the blog, simply because I can’t keep up with the spam while I’m away. (Believe me, I’ve tried every plug-in and filter. Obviously Movable Type isn’t working for me, so I’ll be switching to WordPress in the near future.)

p.p.s.–This lovely Hawthornden recap from Vanessa Gebbie has me even MORE excited!

1 Comment to Productivity Forecast

  1. crazyliberalkate's Gravatar crazyliberalkate
    March 3, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad that you got this opportunity! Much deserved!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.