Write-a-thon 2014 wrap-up

The Clarion West 2014 Write-a-thon is over, but it’s not too late to donate to the cause! Sponsor me, sponsor another writer, or learn more about the Write-a-thon

This year, my goals were to 1. Write every day, 2. Stay away from social media except on Sundays and in general spend less time dorking around on the Internet, 3. Try to goof off in the evening less in order to get both a morning and evening writing session going. My unexpressed, super-secret goal #4 was to get a rough draft of the sequel to Waking up Naked in Strange Places finished. I didn’t actually think that was very likely, but I thought it was possible.

A complete draft did not happen. But I did make a lot of progress — I’ve got coherent scenes nearly up to the midpoint. As far as goal #1, I wrote nearly every day (missing a few key days on my birthday and immediately after). Goal #3 — well, kind of. A “spend more time at home” goal during Clarion West is automatically in conflict with a “go to all the Clarion West events” goal. And a “don’t go out so much” goal contains its own undoing, writing-wise, because it necessitates a “more cooking at home” goal. So I’m still figuring out how to make that work.

(Dear universe: I need a robot maid, stat. Thank you.)

Goal #2 was the interesting one, because I think every modern writer feels an inherent tension between the Internet’s dual identities:

1. An important tool for research, promotion, communication, and connection
2. The most gargantuan black hole of pointless time suck ever devised by humankind.

I don’t think I resolved that conflict. But, by deliberately trying to step away from it, I think I got some important insights into how it works in my brain. The pattern is that if I need to walk away mentally from whatever I’m working on — because I can’t figure out how a scene should go, for example — the Internet is a way to do that. And so I think I’m just going to check out a news feed or two, or see what’s new on Facebook, and then BAM! An hour has gone by.

Sometimes it’s the TV Tropes effect (you know, where one thing leads to another thing leads to another thing) but more often it seems like a kind of mental inertia, as if once my brain enters “Internet, take me away!” mode it wants to stay there. Probably because it’s less cognitive effort. Brains are tricky like that.

Anyway, my conclusion is that I need to find some way to tame the devouring Internet blob monster. Timers? Making sure to use something else to distract myself when needed? Small electric shocks? Writing in a yurt with no wifi? I haven’t decided yet. I’ll let you know when I get it figured out.