Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Time Management Tuesday: Another Year, Another May Days Set-Aside Time

Last year, I took part in The May Days, a Facebook group in which members encouraged each other to write two pages a day. On May 8th, 2012, I explained why writers might actually need a push to get them writing--a lot of the work writers do isn't actually writing. After I finished my month, I decided I liked what I called this set-aside time for specific projects, or binge writing.

What I liked about The May Days was the way it appealed to my own joy in obsessing on a project or topic. I don't have the endurance to obsess indefinitely, but a set-aside time--Oh, I'm there. Seriously, I once did one of those week-with-no-TV things. I made two kids do it with me. I love this stuff.

Since last May, though, I've been reading The Willpower Instinct  by Kelly McConigal. She talks about willpower (and lack thereof) spreading through groups. I'll do more on that next week  In the meantime, I will just say that there appears to be some support for group writing initiatives like The May Days helping writers stay disciplined.

Well, tomorrow is May 1st, and our group is starting another May Days project or binge. Last year I didn't even hear about this until the day before, so I had done no preparation at all. This year as part of my New Year's planning I actually had a May Days goal and objectives:

"Goal 6. Work on an outline for "mummy book" during May Days (I wasn't prepared for May Days last year. I hope to be this year.)

  1. Finish reading Wired for Story because I think we organic writers often don't know what our story is prior to writing, which makes plotting difficult.
  2. At least skim The Plot Whisperer for same reason
  3. Go over old research for this project and continue with more."
I did finish Wired for Story, though I've only read a few pages of The Plot Whisperer. (This is not a comment on the quality of the book. I just haven't been able to get to it.) I didn't go over the old research I've collected over the years that I've been thinking about this book. What I did do:
  1. Visit UVM's Fleming Museum, because right now a college museum figures into the setting/story
  2. Read half of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking for character development research
  3. Register for a 3-hour plot workshop this Sunday at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference
  4. Realize I can use the find-the-story posts from OC's Weekend Writer series to help with early find-the-story work
  5. Make a few journal notes over the past year for this project
While it can be argued that I am better prepared for May Days this year than last, I am still not in great shape. For one thing, I'm going to have a lot of trouble writing on May 2 through 4 because of family and conference commitments. That's really early on in the project to be veering from the program. The plotting workshop on May 5 seems like a great idea, particularly since it comes early in the set-aside period. However, the workshop description asks participants to bring a work-in-progress to which they can apply the information we'll be taking in. I am going to be scrambling the rest of today and in whatever time I can find tomorrow to scratch up enough material to be able to say I have a work-in-progress.

Hey, a work-in-progress is in the eye of the beholder, n'est-ce pas?

Stay tuned to learn what Gail has to show for her May Days experience at the end of the month.

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