Monday, July 14, 2014

Manifesto: Binge Writing Is Bad --or-- 100 Days to Getting a Life

Saturday was an extreme writing day.  The kind that gives writing caves a bad name.  My only act reminiscent of actual human life was making a fruit salad to go with the lox and bagels my husband brought in.  And, oh yeah, I ate this at a table. (A table with a three foot stack of magazines and books at one end, but nevertheless, a table.)

At 9:30 that night, there I was.  Wearing the same orange tee shirt I'd slept in.  Sitting in the same spot on the family room sofa where I'd dropped after breakfast.  And I passed 60,000 words.

Huzzah!

Except that I was wearing the same tee shirt I'd slept in and was sitting on the same spot on the sofa with only my laptop (which overheats) to keep me warm.  Even my dog, who is 17 and cuddles indiscriminately with throw pillows and table legs, had abandoned me in favor of an unmade bed.


I picked my way through our kitchen -- which, courtesy of binge writing, had bacteria colonies so large you could watch them slither along the counter in the darkness -- turned on the light, and made dinner.  Which we did not eat at the table.  Husband and I were so exhausted by our days of sitting in one place working that we hunkered down in front of a BBC historical.  Our primary conversation was that our brains were so fried, we couldn't follow what the hell the characters were saying.

A successful writing day.  A completely crap day from any other perspective.

Anyway, I've had it.  Yesterday I went to a housewarming, a bookstore, and a birthday dinner wearing an actual outfit with cute shoes.  I banged out 500 words.  I cuddled my dog.

And I'm here to say, I'm out of the cave.  This is the manifesto.  I'm spending the next 100 days balancing my life.  And finishing the WIP.  And just generally having more connection with other people and the world beyond my laptop.  And moving parts of my body not involved in the physical act of writing.  And -- did I mention? -- finishing the WIP.

I'm not sure if embracing this philosophy is going to turn out to be Really Bad Writing Advice, as promised on this blog.  Who knows, I could end up abandoning the laptop in favor of admiring butterfly wings, freezing in place for hours at a time smelling the roses.  But I suspect it's going to be a good thing all around.






15 comments:

  1. Binge-anything always leaves the day after... what then? I find slow and steady does it. But whatever does it for you, so long as it does... Wait, what? That was your bad writing advice?

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    1. Hi Mirka, So happy to see you! I'm not sure how bad this advice is, actually, due to a writing-binge fried brain. We shall see. There is always the chance that by interspersing really bad advice with something slightly more useful, I could create chaos. Love, Ann

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  2. I'm glad I read this. From time to time, I get obsessed with the production of words and word-count. That's when I block out the world and go on a writing binge. My new goal is the production of art, and for me, art takes time.
    Thanks for the essay!

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    1. Randi, Did you say word count?!? Complete obsession here, too. And the ironic (or in the alternative, pathetic) thing is that I end up having to hack thousands and thousands of words off my novels to get to a solid final draft. Hats off to your new goal!

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  4. Earlier this summer, I had a week where both my kids were gone at camp where I got to write for most of the day. Since usually I'm squeezing in words when I can (and 500 is a good day), this felt like such a treat. But by the second day or so, I was tired of writing, writing, writing, writing. I think balance is the key--besides, what would you have to write about if you didn't go out in the world in your cute shoes?

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    1. You know, when I had kids at home, having a long, uninterrupted period to write was bliss, but addiction wasn't a real possibility. But empty nest, it's a whole other story.

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  5. I did a couple days of binge-writing last week to crank out the last few chapters of my WIP, and while it was very productive, it also left me pretty fried. I think this can be a good approach in small doses, but it's not recommended for long-term use. :-)

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    1. I suspect that after an extended period of being fried, it starts to feel like the new normal. In my case, this isn't a good thing.

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  6. Funny, but I've dreamed about these days ... I suppose I should be grateful about the enforced balance.

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    1. I don't think there's anything wrong with dreaming about having uninterrupted time to write. I had no desire to ditch my kids, but I still craved that time. But my starting to write novels coincided with my youngest leaving for college, and it was very easy to get sucked into a totally-consumed writing binge -- in part because I really enjoy it.

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    2. Just to be clear -- because there's so much mean snark floating around -- I'm NOT suggesting that dreaming about uninterrupted writing days when you have little kids has anything to do with wanting to ditch them, or any negative connotations whatsoever. I think it's virtually a given of being a writing mom.

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  7. I think I would go crazy binge writing. LOL That's great you were able to get out and do some fun things the next day though. And seriously, your dog is TOO cute.

    -Lauren

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    1. Yes, he is definitely the cutest dog ever. (Not that I have anything against pure-breds, but rescue dogs rock!) Thanks for noticing. Our whole family adores him.

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  8. I gotta say, I love binge writing. LOVE it. Probably because I get to do it so rarely. But twice in the past month I spent solid 8 hours on the manuscript, and I got so much done.

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