Sunday, November 26, 2006

Afterburners

As we're in the last days of NaNoWriMo, and Bryon has pulled into the lead in his manuscript race against Dave, and I'm about 72 hours away from finishing my last book of the year, I think we should share whatever we do or use that helps us make it to the finish line.

My never-fail five:

1. Nice big reward: When I finish this book, I get to take off an entire month to enjoy my family and the holidays. There's not a better form of motivation than pending vacation.

2. Daily motivators: If I make my target quota for the day, I'm allowed an hour of reading for pleasure or a long hot bubble bath. If I surpass my daily quota, I get the bath or the book plus my guy gives me a back rub (his way of helping out.)

3. Serious breaktime: The pace of working during a deadline week is relentless and grinding; the last couple of days are spent in different levels of hell. I always work eighteen hour days, but I combat exhaustion by actually working only twelve of those hours, and breaking them up into three sessions of four hours on, two hours off.

4. Nutrition: I live on salads, fresh fruit and whole-grain English muffins, in small portions, for the duration of deadline week. I stay away from sugar, caffeine and meat. So far I've already killed two half-gallons of orange juice and God knows how much chilled water. I never eat before I work, only after when I take a break (also a nice side motivator to get me through a session.)

5. Well Refills: I listen to a lot of music during deadline week, usually in the car as I'm making school rounds but I also have my CD player close at hand. This book has me listening to a lot of Shelley Phillips, Branford Marsalis and Bach's Masses and Magnificats.

So what do you guys do to make it through crunch time? Tell us in comments to this post by midnight EST on Thursday, 11/30/06. I'll draw ten names from everyone who participates, and send the winners a signed copy of the mass market edition of Afterburn. Giveaway open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

26 comments:

  1. I buy myself a motivational "end of project" gift or treat. In October when I finished a novel that had been bothering me for quite some time, I treated myself to dinner at a steakhouse. When I finished my NaNoWriMo novel (a week early!), I bought a new video game.

    When the end is in sight, it's much easier for me to convince myself to hang in there. Tonight I finished a short story that I kept trying to put off but when I saw that I was almost through, I stopped long enough to dither about and clear my head before setting down to finish up.

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  2. I absolutely have to have an end of first draft routine. It takes so much to get started on a novel that finishing one leaves your brain running beyond the end of the story.

    So when it's done, I do a shot of Jameson, go outside and have a cigar, and, if Diane's willing... Well, let's just call that the victory dance.

    Then I take two days where I absolutely avoid anyhing that looks like a word processor. Even Excel, at my spreadsheet-addicted day job, gets the hairy eyeball from me.

    So far, I haven't gotten sick at the end of a project or depressed. (That's what the publishing industry is for.)

    And sometimes, it doesn't hurt to do something healthy, like go get lost in the woods for a couple of hours.

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  3. A huge mocha, a closed door, electronic or classical music, and lots of back rubs from my hubby.

    If Sun-Thurs goes well word-count-wise, I take Friday off to be with my kids and watch Dr. Who and BSG.

    I also take one day off before the last week to just pour over my notes, re-read sections, and *think*. I look for course corrections - or give new ideas room to play. That MO worked very well for NaNo last year - and so it's working for this year, too.

    Also - I plan to attend a "Whew, It's Over" party on December 2nd.

    I'm thinking about big rewards for getting the NaNo novel edited, but I have to chose a deadline first. Suggestions for the prize are welcome. ;-)

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  4. I have an unopened copy of Microsoft Flight Sim X sitting on my desk as my NanoWrimo prize.

    I also blogged about my Nano motivations in slightly more detail recently.

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  5. Oh, and my family's reward when Nano is over? I get to do 6 months of house maintenance over the next 4 weeks. Hmm.

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  6. My reward will be the Japanese anime movies that are on their way - squee! - (still looking for the postman) and a weekend of wallowing.

    I also have a tbr pile so high, Edmund Hillary would baulk at it - choices, choices...

    After the word count is done though, I'll probably stare at the screen and think 'whoa, that was really over the top', set the whole lot aside and not look a the computer for a while.

    The muse will be glad of the holiday, I think!

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  7. Oh, I forgot: the very first reward will be reading Midnight Blues and catching up with the rest of the challenge pieces. Yay!

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  8. For this NaNo, I get to... uh... start at a new job. Joy. But it also means money, something lacking recently.

    I've picked up heaps of new books lately, so my reward is to be able to sit down and read them all without feeling guilty that I should be writing. Also taking photos.


    Wolverine.

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  9. When I wrote some stuff online a few years ago, whenever I felt like slacking off I went there to read through the comments people have left for me. Works wonder. :)

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  10. This is my first Nano and I really surprised myself by how fast and easy it was. I finished my novel a week early without actually spending any time in the evenings writing! When I was nearing the end I took three days off - a little taste of what it will feel like to finish, then I slowly crept up to the finish line, mainly only typing while on the train to work, driving other commuters mad with my tap tap tapping.
    At home I had a large bottle of Southern Comfort out waiting for me, and I wasn't allowed to touch it until crossing the 50k mark. I got lovely and drunk Friday night. And I have also taken off the last few days from blogging (although I should probably hurry up and document my 50k win!).
    It feels a little bit of an empty victory though because the book is far too short to be properly considered finished. Every chapter needs reworking and needs depth and intrigue added. It also needs a good spell check done because I successfully banned the editor in me this month.
    So, December will be NaNoEdMo for me. My reward for finishing my second draft (hopefully at around 80k+) will be a relaxing and book-writing-free Christmas. I know I'm getting three books for Christmas which I am absolutely dying to read, so having those will be a magnificent treat, and I'm sooo looking forward to it that I'm going to start editing even before November is over.
    Next Nano - I'm aiming for 100k double or nothing!

    I love your blog PBW, by the way!!

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  11. VACATION!!!!!

    I told myself that when I met my deadline, I'd take some time off to read, relax and enjoy the holidays with my family.

    A daily one~well, if I do really well on my word count, I don't have a set quota, but if I do well, I can watch law and order without hearing that ugly little voice in my head, the one that says I should get back to work!

    Plus... well, this is a sucky motivator, but hey, it definitely did the trick. had to have surgery a week ago and I told myself I HAD to be done with everything, including edits from all my various pubs, before i had the carpal tunnel surgery. Not the most fun thing in the world, although surgery drugs are excellent. It did work, though.

    Now I get to enjoy the holidays with my family before I get back on the deadline horse again in January.

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  12. Sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.

    I can't sleep when deadlining. I rest. I close my eyes, but I can't sleep. Maybe I'll snatch 20 minutes 5 times during the night, but that's it. This happens usually for the whole last two weeks, the last being the worst.

    And then after I sleep, I read. I finished a manuscript on the 17th of this month, and I've been sleeping so much I'm only on my 2nd book!

    Oh, and clean. That doesn't sound like a rewarding thing, but it is. SO rewarding. It's putting order to things that have gone unordered for way too long, and it's hugely satisfying.

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  13. So far, I haven't gotten sick at the end of a project or depressed.

    Oh, I just went back and read the other comments and saw that Jim said the above.

    I've always wondered if my sleeping is partly depression, because finishing a book leaves me in the doldrums for weeks. My husband even commented on it yesterday as I was moping about, too blah to even read. It's got to be a post-partum thing, yes? Living and breathing and creating for months, and then in such intensive labor for the two weeks before finishing. Ugh. I hate that part!

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  14. What helps me make it to the finish line? I love to track word counts. I have some WordPress plugins I developed which let me track my progress and daily word counts. The plugins also post my progress on my blog. It helps me stay focused being able to look at my stats. Lately I've been trying to increase my daily average.

    I don't have any particular awards I give myself but it does make it easier to relax and do other activities knowing I've met my goals.

    I planned from the beginning that my NaNoWriMo projects would be a marketable length so I'll still be writing next month. Even so the 50k line is a nice milestone to reach.

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  15. Sheer bloody-mindedness is what usually gets me to the end of a novel. I'm not sure where it comes from, but once I've started something, I have to finish it. That seems to be motivation enough.

    When I finished the last novel, back in October, my prize was to get to start on my current WIP, which had been a serious distraction from the work I was meant to be doing.

    As to daily rewards, since I mostly write into the wee small hours, once I've hit my daily target, there's not much else to do but take the dogs out for their evening constitutional and then fall into bed.

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  16. I fall back on sheer bloody mindedness (like JamesO) plus apples, green tea, and less sleep than usual. I sometimes lie awake for hours at night with the plot going 'round and 'round in my head.

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  17. Anonymous4:09 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  18. To finish... I pretend that I am making money at it and give myself an hourly wage. The wage I use for special things like books. Sometimes even that motivation doesn't work. Then I read a book. :-)

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  20. Bridget Medora8:49 PM

    I'm so run-of-the-mill -- my treats to myself are all food. Usually something sweet, since I watch my diet so carefully and almost never have sweets. It works great. ;-)

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  21. I just found your site. I'm looking forward to visiting again!

    Cheers.

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  22. I'll like the back rub idea. I'll have to write that one into my marital contract.

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  23. Basically, I just live in hell and hate everything outside the book (and sometimes what's inside the book). But I do get a once-a-week hour-and-a-half massages (the kind that hurt a bit, but afterward-great), which I look forward to every single week.

    I wish I could avoid caffeine and junk food during this time, but for some reason Fritos, Coke, coffee, tea, cookies, and all the bad stuff seem to migrate to my office during Hell Week.

    And Hell Week seems to last several months these days.

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  24. I set rewards for myself for finally finishing my projects, be they first drafts or rewrites. For my current project, Beloved, I will be treating myself to a trip to New York to see Beauty and the Beast when I finish the first draft (amazing how much money you can save when you're locked in a room for days on end).

    I will be spending next month completing my rewrite of What the Mind Sees, and I'm still trying to come up with a reward for that. Currently, it's sitting at, "Woo-hoo, I get to spend a month having someone ELSE read and mark this up!" When I finished the first draft, I allowed myself to buy a new book I'd been putting off.

    I try to match the reward, in some way, to the project, and I try to make it something I haven't had in a while. In Beloved's case, I haven't been to a show in a couple of years, and the novel is loosely based on the fairy tale - perfect match. *-* It's a little harder to come up with rewards for dealing with telepathic, vampiric kinkajous.

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  25. When I'm on deadline, to keep focused, I tend to break the task into the remaining bite-sized pieces (this works for writing, painting, many other things). That way it doesn't seem so insurmountable.
    That and music. I always work with music. No, I generally live with music, always having the CD player on. The closer to deadline I get, the harder the music gets, gravitating from a full mix when the deadline is distant, to Nickelback, Ministry and Only Living Witness when the real crunch is on.

    Once the project is done, I can get that book I've been eyeing. Keeps my book spending low, which is good. Otherwise I'd feed the addiction to the detriment of my accounts.
    I also allow myself to indulge in other hobbies afterwards (plus it's a brain break from writing). Right now, I've promised myself when I finish the outline fo the current WIP, I get to assemble and paint some warhammer models I've had loitering about for a while and haven't gotten to yet.

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  26. Small rewards and motivation throughout the day are a definite must, but everyone seems to agree on that.

    One thing that helps me is if I find that I can't concentrate and am tempted to, oh I don't know, browse writing blogs, I give myself permission to do so. Instead of feeling guilty about wasting time on blogs, I say, "You have ten minutes to check out some blogs." Then I actually have a boundary to how much time I spend and am able to get back to work after the allotted time. I'd probably be spending twice the time if I didn't just let it go. And I feel refreshed and ready to work instead of guilty and under more pressure.

    Most people probably just have the discipline to stick to the work. Good for them and they should keep it up.

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