No Xbox ’till Xmas

I had the second in a series of mentoring meetings in early May, as part of the ongoing mentoring programme organised for me by the wonderful professional development people at NALD.

The mentoring process has been quite influential over my pattern of work over the last few months. The first session highlighted a number of actions I needed to take in both my literature development work and my fiction writing. The mentoring sessions become a focus for completing work and making decisions. Knowing that you are going to be talking through your progress with an outside observer throws a spotlight on your current actions and decisions and makes you look at them critically. It can be easy to develop justifications for things – ‘I can’t do this because…’ or ‘I must do this or this will happen..’ that when looked at from a neutral perspective are untrue. I know I certainly have more than a few of these, but even at this early stage the mentoring process has helped me see a few of them.

On the writing front the latest mentoring session has helped me arrive at a few concrete decisions that I am going to be putting into action. The most important is the decision to complete the first draft of a novel by the end of December this year. To this end I am setting a word count target of 2500 words a week which will bring me to roughly 80,000 words by the end of the year. The major factor that has been holding me back on the novel front has been committing to one project and carrying it through to completion. To address this problem I have spent the last week looking at all of my ideas for books and short stories and identifying the ideas I’m most excited by and that have the most potential to work creatively and commercially as full length novels. Consequentially I am now looking at two, one page synopses for novels. These are about to be sent to M who is going to seek some editorial advice about which one has the best market potential. That advice in mind I am then going to pick one and work on it consistently until it is finished. More on this in many future blog posts.

If not finishing what I have started is one of my major creative problems, then a related issue is the huge range of pointless distractions I manage to prioritize before writing time. I would list them all but it would take pages. Many of them are ‘tech’ related. The week before last I upgraded my laptop. Yes – this was mildly useful but it took about two days of work i.e. 2000 – 3000 words if I had spent the time writing. The latest deadly distraction looming on the horizon is an Xbox 360. Buying a computer game console now would be the equivalent of taking the next 6 months and throwing them in the bin as far as writing goes. So as a kind of Pavlovian reward regime I’ve decided that I can buy an Xbox for Xmas if and only if I complete the entire first draft by December. Please, please please if anybody out there gets wind that I have reneged on this agreement and secretly bought an Xbox then I’m begging you to come round to my house and destroy it. I am deadly serious.

I’m going to document the writing process through the Don’t Look Down blog, so check back for details soon.

UPDATE: its been noted that buying an Xbox at Xmas would just delay the inevitable waste of time. To counter this my update promise is that the Xbox will be donated to a deserving young person / unemployed friend after two weeks.