Once, when I was little, I was involved in a Go-Cart accident. We got going too fast and careened unstoppable down a cement driveway towards the bed of a parked pickup truck–one just the right height for decapitating foolish children. The cart flipped over at the last minute, leaving us bruised and scraped but otherwise with heads still firmly afixed to our bodies.
The tale, of course, has grown over time — grander, more dramatic, gorier — but, in truth, all I really remember was a sense of helplessness as I realized the brakes weren’t working and a bracing, jittery wave of adrenaline sweeping all my fear away.
That’s a pretty good way to describe the last few weeks of the semester, too. Go-Cart. No brakes. A stew of helplessness and adrenaline.
One week of classes remains, including only one more unfinished lecture (thank every god in every pantheon in all the world!). Then I’ve got 80 final exams and 20 final papers to grade. And then I can get out the BandAids (aka a big cup of spiked eggnog) and patch up.
It’s been a pretty nutso few months, and my writing (as well as my poor, sad blog) has suffered. In a way, though, the compression of writing time I’ve experienced this semester has helped my focus. When I do have a few minutes or (gasp!) an hour to devote to writing, I find I’m really zooming in, working on specific chapters and passages in a very detailed, thoughtful way. Word count has remained low, but I think what I’m producing is better overall.
Once the semester ends, though, I want to overhaul my writing practices to maximize for both productivity and quality. I recently read a post from Rachel Aaron’s “Pretentious Title” blog that had a couple of really interesting suggestions for techniques to increase output – ways to work both faster and smarter.
In short, they include brief planning sessions before sitting down to write each day (know what you’re going to write, specifically rather than generally, before you begin), tracking your writing (when, how much, what, where, output) for a few weeks to learn when and how you write best, and finding enthusiasm for everything you write (not just the best bits) by honing in on “boring” sections and excising or transforming them. I plan to implement her suggestions in a few weeks and will be sure to report back in the new year.
So, that’s what’s going on in Miranda-landia. What about you, dear Reader? Busy? Relaxed? Productive as an bee in a hive or currently hibernating? Share your doings in the comments, please!