I’m having a heck of a time getting back into the swing of novel writing. I’ve done alright getting back into this site, but writing on here is so much easier than novel writing, for obvious reasons. There’s no plot here. I can say whatever comes to mind, and generally it turns out ok.
There are so many distractions to being productive however. If I take a look at the environments of some of my favourite authors, I’m embarrassed by how comfortably I live and how easy writing a novel these days should be. There was a famous story by Jack London called “Martin Eden“, which, if you haven’t read, go and do that right now. It’s phenomenal, and if it doesn’t motivate you to work harder, I don’t know what will.
In the story however, there’s this young guy who decides he wants to be an author. He works his ass off, doing jobs I wouldn’t wish on my enemies for practically pennies a day so he can afford to live in a cramped studio above a laundromat sleeping four hours a day and writing and reading the other twenty.
He works for six months at a time, going out to sea to be a deckhand on a sailing ship, or working for a hotel in the laundry room cleaning the linens of the guests, which he compares to working in hell. He saves up, then lives on the savings and writes all day, going into huge debt just renting a typewriter so he can work.
He eventually makes it after several years, but that’s not the point. When I consider what he would do if he were in my situation—with the ability to write on a computer, in a comfortable room, and with tons of free time, I feel pretty guilty that I haven’t done more by this point. I suppose we’re all victims of our day and age and upbringing, but I’d like to think I’m capable of working just as hard as Martin Eden.
The culprits are all around us, and people have been harping on them for years. TV, internet, phones, etc. The trick is figuring out a way to do work in spite of these things. There’s something called the “Pomodoro Technique” I recently learned of, and it’s actually quite simple. It involves a regular old kitchen timer and some self motivation. Turn the timer to 25 minutes, and do your work during that time. 25 minutes, that’s all. Then you get a five minute break, start again. If you get interrupted with a phone call or a friend or your cat you have to start over.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I think I’ll start tonight. I’d really like to say with confidence that I’m working on this book as hard as I can, and if I can find a trick or two to make that happen, all the better.