My son didn’t have school yesterday (Monday) because the teachers had an in-service day. So my wife took advantage of his vacation to take a day off from work to go visit her parents. My son plays trumpet, and solo and ensemble competitions are coming up. As my father-in-law is a trumpet player, there was instruction and practice taking place.
I didn’t have Monday off. The university was education (or something that resembles it to the untrained eye) as usual. This was a good thing. It meant I had the house to myself all weekend.
So I wrote. I tried to write at pulp speed. For those who may not be familiar with the term, pulp speed is writing at a rate at which you can support yourself as a writer, like the pulp writers did. They rarely rewrote, at least more than once, and they wrote prodigiously every day.
I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. I didn’t sleep well Saturday night because I had a large cup of hot tea a little later than I should and was kinda wiped out most of Sunday.
But it was still a highly productive weekend. I got over 6,000 words written, over 5500 of them on Saturday and Sunday. (I lost my slip of paper where I was writing down word totals and don’t remember the exact number, but 6k was a minimum,) It’s more than I would normally have written. Since I didn’t get started until after 3:00 on Saturday afternoon (yard chores) and still managed to put over 3k down, I won’t complain. I didn’t write much on the sword and sorcery novelette I’m been working on during the week, but I did get at least half of a ghost story completed. And started a horror story I’d been kicking around. The S&S tale will go in a collection with others in that series. The ghost and horror story are for a collection I’m going to publish as an exercise in learning how to epublish. Once these two stories are done, I should be ready to start putting the thing together, although I may write one or two more if the right ideas hit me.
I did learn several things. It’s possible to write ahead of your story. I’ve never really outlined. I’m more of an organic writer, one who starts with an opening and usually but not always has an idea where the story will end up. Usually I know what the next scene will be before I finish the one I’m working on. That has changed over the last year or two, but I’m still primarily a pantser. The ghost story has grown, and now that I know the ending, I need to back fill some things to avoid an abrupt ending that feels forced.
The things I found most interesting was what I learned about myself. First, I think when I’m writing and the words are flowing and the muse is
yielding herself to my desires guiding my work, I’m in an altered state of consciousness. My focus is sharp, I’m exhilarated yet relaxed, and I hit a contentment that few other things seem to provide. Mind you, this is when things are going well and I can hardly type fast enough to keep up with the words. When the words won’t come, the above doesn’t apply. Yes, I just said writing is a drug, my drug of choice.
The second thing I learned is that such intense writing can wear you out if you’re not used to it. Now as Dean Wesley Smith said in the post that David J. West linked to on his blog, there are different levels of pulp speed, and I was only hitting on one of the lower levels for a brief time. And thanks, David, for that post. I only saw Dean’s through your link, but both posts have really impacted how I approach writing. There is a bit of a price to pay for the altered state of consciousness that is in the zone writing. But like anything else, you can work up to it.
The third thing was that I’ve always wondered if I could write at that pace. I don’t generally write in large blocks. But I loved it. It’s definitely a writing regime I could get used to. I need to improve my self-discipline, but I can do it. Which means if I can turn out readable copy (yet to be determined), then there’s a good chance I can turn this writing hobby into a paying gig. And that’s the ultimate goal. To write stories and books that people want to read badly enough that they will willingly give me money for them. Whether the quality of the writing will ever reach that level, we’ll have to wait and see. But I can keep that pace up, especially if I train for it like an athlete.