03 Nov

Binge Writing

Posted in Writing

First off, I wanted to give a huge shout-out to all my readers who are participating in NaNoWriMo 2010.  You guys are awesome and you continually amaze me with your strength of spirit and dedication.  Go writers!

In light of it being November and NaNoWriMo being under way, I thought I’d talk today about binge writing.  I myself have never done NaNoWriMo but I’ve experienced my own writing binges in different contexts (mostly academic).  For instance, I completely rewrote my college thesis two days before the deadline.  My psychology master’s thesis got done during the week before I moved from upstate back to NYC.  In fact, the only thesis I’ve ever written that was not started and completed in the days before the deadline was the MFA thesis, believe it or not.

My point is, I know what it’s like to crank out pages in a short period of time and to write so hard you don’t know whether you’re crying or your eyes are bleeding or your brain’s exploding.  Or all of the above.  I know the rush and thrill of when all those disparate ideas come together at the last minute and the whole project feels like it’s suspended in air, waiting for that last breath, that last keystroke.

But aside from the frantic rush of it all, there is strategy to binge writing and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned from my own binge writing experiences.

1) Don’t forget to eat.  Whether you take a short break for dinner or keep a snack next to you as you work, remember to refuel with food.
2) Sleep can be optional for a day or two.  But if you’re planning to pull all-nighters for a month, be prepared for lowered productivity.  I know because I’ve actually done this and it’s not a good idea.
3) Bathing is optional. (Unless you plan to go out in public, in which case, do the world a favor and take a quick shower.) ‘Nuff said.
4) Take breaks.  Sometimes your brain needs to zone out and relax.  Beating it with a stick isn’t going to get the words on the page any faster.
5) Goals can change and that’s OK.  You may find as you work on your project–be it NaNoWriMo or something else–that your goals may shift.  That’s perfectly OK and it’s important allow yourself the flexibility to change directions if need be.

Here are some happy writing vibes to all you awesome writers, especially those doing NaNoWriMo.  Hope your project goes well!


Comments on this post

  1. Dawn Embers says:

    Great post. Also, it helps to use showering as a way to get unstuck from a plot because it takes care of two things at the same time. *is a fan of showers*

    1. salarsenッ says:

      Yeah, I've had an eye bleed or two. I really like #5. Setting goals is so important, but reminding ourselves–giving ourselves permission–to alter those goals is a good exercise. If we don't (like me so often) we end up feeling disappointed in ourselves. (Ps: I attended MuseCon and used mind mapping. How cool!)

      1. KarenG says:

        Binge writing is what I do. I've tried the "2 hours a day rain or shine" philosophy but just can't stomach it. I'm a binge writer and 30 days is about right.

        1. Najela says:

          I have a question. I'm starting my undergrad thesis next quarter and I was wondering for your thesis did you write one really good excerpt of a novel or a collection of stories.

          1. gabi says:

            Great comments!

            Dawn – I'm definitely a fan of showers too and it's a great place to think when I hit the wall in my writing.

            SA Larsen – That's so cool that you used mind-mapping! What's MuseCon, btw? I'd love to hear more about it.

            Karen – I can be like that too. My hubby calls it "feast or famine."

            Najela – For my MFA thesis I did the first 5 chapters of the novel I'm currently finishing. My undergrad thesis was in psychology so it was a totally different format. I think it depends on what your goal is for the thesis. Some people in my program used the thesis to finish a full draft, others polished up an excerpt, others did stories or a collection of picture books. My own goal was to lay a strong foundation for this novel by working out the kinks in the beginning, so that when I finished the thesis and no longer had the safety net of school, I would know where to go with it.

            1. Wannabe Writer says:

              It's my first year attempting NaNo, and I'm doing it to help my "post-binge" habits. I've heard that if you do something for three weeks, it becomes habit. So for me, NaNo is the sprint at the start of a marathon. I'm hoping to get in the habit of writing everyday, even if it's just a few words (or, even better, if it's 1,667)!

              1. melissa says:

                great advice! I think setting very small goals helps me keep writing and the rest of my life on track. I've been doing a lot of "Okay, I'll write 250 words and then sweep or read or something else not to do with writing" Then I go back and do it again. It makes everything much more manageable.

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