Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book-in-a-Month or BIAM

I'm writing this for all of us who struggle to find time to write. There are many time management books and there are books on how to get your priorities straight. On this Blog, I've shared the suggestion of Baby Steps to squeak out a few pages of writing in between a plethora of other tasks. (I just LOVE that word. "Plethora". Has such a wonderful feel on the tongue. Makes me think of geese winging south in a plethora of sqwaking. Which they are doing right now, by the way, and landing in my backyard...What? Oh, Right. Writing time.) You can see how time slips away when you're having fun or when you haven't made writing a priority or when you're watching geese.

Ta-Da! Enter Book-in-a-Month! Take the plunge. Stop having nervous frets over the fact that you still haven't finished that last scene. Push everything else to the fringe and write the draft of your next novel in 30 days. 30 Days! Wow!

Now, this exercise comes in a couple of forms. First, November is National Novel Writing Month. This comes with a web site, online support groups, a daily list of activities to complete and your own goals--number of pages or words per day, finish the outline, etc. Like Boot Camp. In a Chair. On your favorite search engine, type in "BIAM" or "book in a week" or "BIAW" and you'll find other groups to cheer you on this path.

I'm taking the non-online (is that a word? Not near as nice as "plethora") path. I purchased the book Book in a Month: the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. This is a sturdy book with places to take notes, step-by-step instructions ("Write 10 Scene Cards Today", "Brainstorm Characters") and lots of cheering. She takes you through the whole process methodically and steadily until you've completed a first draft.

She suggests adapting the process if you'd like. With my current life, carving out 30 days is just not going to happen. But four devoted hours every Saturday morning with bits and pieces through the week? That I can do. So I'm using Book in a Month to guide me, to give me a portable place to take notes, to make a commitment to regular writing and to keep my subconscious working on whatever writing activity is on the schedule. So far, I'm loving it.

I may not get the draft done in 30 days, but 30 Saturdays? Sure. It beats not writing at all. And I know once I've gotten deeper into my characters and plot, I'll make more time. I won't be able to help myself. I'll let you know how it's going next month.

Have any of you used a BIAM technique? How'd it go? Any of you ready to take the plunge?



Heather said...

I think anything that makes you sit down and get the stuff out onto paper is a good thing, whether it is so many hours a week you dedicate or so many words a day. The hardest part is the sitting down, turning off all distrctions and writing.

Personally I find I need to write a little every day, I aim for 3000words, otherwise I lose my drive, knowing where the plot is going etc and start to flounder and question.

LaVerne St. George said...

I understand, Heather, and I've talked with other writers about keeping up the "flow". Having the BIAM structure helps that because you have a way to craft a bookmark for your process. I did find it jolting to spend several hours last Saturday, then realize I would have to set the project to simmer. I'm eager to how how this Saturday feels.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

LaVerne, I DO understand! I taught high school Spanish for MANY years. After a day of disciplining, the 3-4 preparations and the paper grading, I couldn't find either the time or energy to write everyday. I wrote Saturdays, summers and vacations so I learned to write fast.

We all have to develop a schedule that fits our lives. Very good luck with this effort to bring some structure to your writing life. Please let us know how it works.


Sandy Cody said...

Good luck, LaVerne. Even if you don't finish your first draft in 30 days, I'm guessing that by the end of that period, the words will flow more easily. I know when I write every day, it is so much easier than when I let it slide for a time - just as it's hard to exercise if you haven't done so for a while. Brains and muscles are meant to be used on a regular basis.

Again, good luck! Maybe next time you'll be telling us about your newly finished first draft.

LaVerne St. George said...

Thanks for your good wishes. My second Saturday of writing was terrific. What I'm finding now is that my subconscious is fully engaged. During the week, even if I can't get any manuscript words on paper, ideas keep swimming up to the top. I'm writing my notes in the BIAM workbook, so I suspect on Saturday, I'll just launch out of the gate. What a good feeling!

Susan said...

I've found that after having been away from my story for some time, it's helpful to have a "writing marathon" day. I invite one or a few fellow writers to join with me in an intense day of writing. It pushes me back into the story and jumpstarts my creative process. Also, with witness's in the home, I can't sneak in breaks to cook or clean. After one of my marathon sessions, I'm generally sunk suffiently back into the plot.