My Productivity Formula

Stress + time constraints + coffee = productivity. S+T+C=P. Do you believe me?

I am a firm believer in the above equation, seeing as how I am stressed 87 percent of the time, a procrastinator, a caffeine lover, yet I’ve made it to 21 and to my senior year of college without too many snags along the way. Stress isn’t always the most fun, and neither is feeling rushed to accomplish a task. But at least in my life, the more stressed I am and the less time I have to complete an assignment, the more I end up getting done in the long run.

Once again, however, NaNoWriMo stands in the way of my experimental theories.

I have been averaging about 1,700 words a day while still keeping up with reading (biochemistry and 20th century novels, don’t worry, nothing fun), attending class, and all those other important things like running/eating/sleeping/drinking coffee. Giving myself a daily word limit and cranking it out early in the morning is just a method that works for me. Now if only I could somehow force myself to apply this to other things, like 30 page research papers (in progress), studying for tests (not making as much progress as there should be) and putting together presentations. Little pieces. Just like you don’t just eat an entire pizza in one sitting (normally). You eat one piece at a time until you’re full then save the rest for when you’re hungry again. Simple. My brain appreciates logic.

But what if you’re just really not feeling that pizza you ordered an hour ago anymore? What do you do with it? Shove it in the fridge and leave it there for a month? Um, no. At least give it to a fellow poor college student who’s tired of eating in the cafeteria if you don’t want it yourself. BUT – you don’t just leave it in the fridge. Even if you’re not as hungry as you thought you were, you still most likely will end up eating a piece or two before saving the rest for later. Right?

People are always posting on Facebook totally flipping out about their word counts, but I’m not a part of that bunch. I’ve learned over the years to take my 50,000 words and break it all into bite-size slices. That way, when I have a day where literally every project/paper/assignment for every class is due in a 5-hour time span and I literally have absolutely no extra time to dedicate to Callie and Ashley’s story, I won’t fall behind and actually have a reason to freak out. And, if I happen to stumble into a scene I really like and want to go a few hundred words over, well, that’s all right too. Not that I, again, have time for that. But I can still continue dreaming, can’t I?

No, I really don’t have time to write 50,000 words in 30 days, let alone try to get it all done in a day or a week or whatever challenges some people decide to set for themselves. Cheers to them for that. But research really won’t do itself (ah, sorry – “reviewing literature”) and biochemistry can’t just diffuse into your bloodstream by drinking magic knowledge juice, so well, setting priorities is key.

Seriously, though, I will give all the profits of my first book to whomever comes up with that formula. The juice, not S+T+C+P, though if you can prove that’s true, I’ll just let you do all my homework for me for the next six months.

I hope you like chemistry. You’ll be in for a treat.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Diary of an Ecstatic Problem Creator

Another early Sunday morning. Another 2,000 words.

I’ve been jumping all over the place this morning, from reading for my English class to writing for fun (because for some reason, I just make time to do that on occasion) straight to analyzing a diet history and planning a mod nutrition counseling session …. and now I’m sitting on my butt writing again (this post) before sprinting over to the rec center when it opens at noon. Oh, and eating about half a box of granola bars. Yep.

Unfortunately, in those 2,000 words I cranked out earlier, Callie and Austin have not gotten any closer to ending their “thing” (whatever it is – I don’t think either of them are quite sure), and Ben and Callie have yet to settle their daily disputes over nothing. In fact, Callie informed me as I typed, Ben is now sleeping on the couch and she’s afraid to go home. So go figure.

Callie and Ashley did have a close run-in, however, which was silent and awkward and full of all sorts of tension. Lovely.

I’m not writing fantasy, and the thing with realistic fiction is that you can’t just have someone jump out of a window when there’s a knock at the door (well, you could, but if you like that character, that’s probably not the best option for your story). So when Callie’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock, and Austin went to answer it, I realized mid-sentence that Becky, one of my favorite characters, was about to find out about their secret. And I really did not want that to happen. So I thought: should she hide under the desk? No, she’s a grown woman, about to get her Ph.D., much more mature than that. Besides, Austin is about to move offices and this one is therefore mostly empty. Now what? Hide behind the door? Forget logic and jump out the window despite potential (fatal) consequences?

Well, since Callie is one of the narrators, she can’t die. When I hit 17,000, Becky was about to approach Callie about what she’d walked into. So tomorrow will be an entertaining writing spree.

I’m probably not doing anything other than confusing you by talking about a book you’ll never read, instead of making you want to read a book that has an x percent chance of getting published in the next 10 years. So I’ll lay off the specifics. Back to my original point – realistic occurrences. In my books, they happen on every page. People fight, people cry (probably more than they should) and oh, there are happy moments too. I’m not that mean to my characters.

It’s all about finding that balance between realistic and entertaining. Sometimes life is boring. We don’t need to summarize someone’s entire morning routine unless it’s about to be permanently disrupted as part of a significant plot point; we shouldn’t have to feel like we have to describe a couple’s typical means of expressing their affection for one another unless it’s the consistent pattern of the relationship that’s causing it to crumble.

Here’s what I hope to resolve before November 30: (1) Ben and Callie’s misunderstanding of each others’ grief, (2) Ashley and (name yet to be determined)’s relationship, (3) Austin and Callie’s understanding that Ashley is a catalyst in their relationship but that the relationship does not have to be (shouldn’t be) a romantic one, and (4) some sort of confrontation between Ashley and Callie in the present, which will be problematic, because the present only covers one day in this novel, and so far in the present Callie is not ready to visit Ashley.

So what needs to happen before all these resolutions occur?

More writing. Duh.

Love&hugs, Meg<3