Saturday, August 24, 2013

Writing Under the Morning Stars

Scott D. Parker

Here’s a fact you may not know: 5:00am is really early.

My boy returned to school this past Tuesday thus ending my magical summer writing time of 6am. I have been waking up at 6am all summer long to write and it was great. On Mondays—the one day I go into my office—I got to write until 7:15 or so. On the other four workdays when I work from home, I was able to manage nearly two hours of writing time before I was on the clock at 8am.

With my boy returning to school, something had to change. I was faced with only two options: write earlier in the day (5am) or later (9pm or 10pm). Seeing as how I got great writing done in the morning, I tried the 5am wake up call. To help me, I started doing this 7-minute workout. I started Monday to give me a head start.
Yeesh! It’s really early. I was used to writing outside on my deck this summer. It’s nearly completely dark at 5am so that felt a little weird and I moved back inside for the last two days. Most days, I was pretty awake and did pretty well. Just limit the news gathering and the email checking. You see, my son’s alarm goes off at 6:15 so I now have a hard deadline. And if I want to maintain my 1,000 word/day pace, well, there’s very little room for error. Or research. I found that out on Tuesday when I decided to stop forward progress to look up something. Learned the hard way when I had to come back later in the day to top 1,000. From now on: make notes for research and just write.

There’s also the aspect of sleep and health. I can function well on six hours. In the summer, that meant to bed by midnight and up at six. Well, if I’m waking at 5am, that means I have to get to bed by 11pm. That didn’t work but one day this week. It was rough. So, yesterday, I tried something different: get up at 5:30, push the exercise until later in the day, and just bang out words for 45 minutes. That went pretty well, actually. That might be my new standard. I didn’t quite get to 1,000 so I had to make it up later in the day, but that was okay.

And, chances are, I’ll still tweak the writing time as the school year goes on, making up some lost time on the weekends. But the good news is that I still managed to crank out just over 8,000 words this week writing primarily (i.e., 95%) in the mornings. That isn’t too bad considering I wrote 8,800 words last work-week.
It’s all a process. Today is the 90th consecutive day of writing. Last Sunday was the day I topped 150,000 new words. I also started writing a short story I’m on the hook for this week. That was kind of odd as it was the first multi-story day this summer. Had to recalibrate the brain, but in a good way.
I’ll have more updates next week on the story’s progress—I’m rapidly approaching the part of the story where I have no notes so we’ll see what happens then. How are all y’all’s writing projects going?


I’m a huge Batman fan. The news that Ben Affleck is going to don the cape and cowl surprised me. He was certainly not my first choice, but I will withhold judgment on how well he does until…15 July 2015, the day the movie premieres. I can’t help but think of 1988 when I learned “Beetlejuice is Batman?” and that turned out okay. And again in 2007: “Ledger’s Joker?!” That turned out great. I have full confidence that Affleck will do well with Batman and that he’ll be different than Bale. I don’t want a Bale clone. I want a new interpretation. Heck, for all the love the “Bat God” gets nowadays (so named because, in the past twentysomething years, Batman has morphed from a dude in a cape to a dude with a ‘super’ brain who is ten steps ahead of everyone), I’m game for something different. Heck, I expect it. Bring it on.

Do you realize how utterly awesome 2015 is turning out to be? Star Wars VII. Superman and Batman on screen together. Avengers 2. There’s probably more, but that’s more than enough. We may not have the hoverboards Marty McFly had when he went to 2015, but we’ll have nerdvana. 


Brian said...

I've been very very scattered in my writing time. Not good. Worse, my writing is getting too dark and making me nuts (think Hannibal Lector channeling a grizzly bear).

So I'm taking a break. I'm outlining a book for the National Novel Writing thing in November. It provides me with the discipline to write every day. I think I take your tip and write in the mornings.

David Y.B. Kaufmann said...

The transformation of Batman over the years (I'm talking starting in the 50s - 1950s - has been interesting. If you haven't read the O'Neil-Adams run, do so. Batman is also easier to write than Superman, I think.

Scott D. Parker said...

Brian - I tried the NaNoWriMo thing a few times and never succeeded. Then, in July, I actually did it just because. So, it can be done. I think it comes down to 1667 words/day to get to 50,000. You can do it.

One of the things I've found good practice is being able to write anywhere. True, this summer I've written in the AM more than anything, but I vary my locations. I don't want to get tied to a certain time/place that I have to write. I want to be flexible of a sort. But, for all of June, I was a 6am/write-on-deck person. That set the stage and the habit. Then, I went about making myself more flexible.

David - I love the O'Neal/Adams material quite a bit. I have one of those oversized treasury editions that collects the Ras al Ghul stories. I also really enjoy the early to mid 70s Brave and the Bold stories. Currently, I'm reading through the Englehart run from the late 1970s with my SF book club. Have you read the Scott Snyder stuff in the New 52 version of Batman? That's some excellent writing.