I often need pressure to write. I don't respond at all to cheerleading and 'motivating' comments from others. I don't respond to nagging. I don't respond to all that NaNoWriMo 'hey guys, let's all write together!' crap. But, good press officer / copywriter that I am by day, you can bet your sweet bippy that I respond to a deadline. And it has to be a serious deadline, too. Not an 'entries are due by 31 August' type deadline. More like a 'submit your piece by midnight or you will lose your job / fail your expensive creative writing course / be forced to give your first-born son to Rumpelstiltskin' deadline.
Which means that OneWord, recommended to me by RS Bohn, has been great for me this week while I've had time on my hands. Every day, a different word is generated, and you are given a single minute to write what you can. There's a counter that runs down before your very eyes. When your time's up, a fabulously sonorous death toll sounds.
Well, that's the kind of pressure I need! So far, I've written on 'moon', 'overjoyed', 'rustling' and 'blast', and the feedback (well, people clicking 'like', anyway) has been positive. Great fun and a great way of breaking writer's block, especially if, like me, you enjoy writing ultra-short flash-fiction.
I've also recently discovered Write or Die. It's a little piece of software - you can use it for free online or download an expanded desktop version for about £6.60 (depending on the USD/sterling exchange rate). The principle behind it is simple. You enter in a time limit and a word count target, and you write. Hard. If you don't, it will begin to flash in disturbing, stressful colours. It will make horrible noises at you. And if you select the 'kamikaze' option, if you stop writing for too long, it will start to delete what you have already written.
I realise this sweat-breakingly stressful mode of writing isn't for everyone, and of course, everything you write with this tool is supposed to be something you'll go back and edit, probably heavily. The idea isn't to encourage a 'quantity over quality' approach at all (quantity over quality is yet another thing I hate about NaNoWriMo). The idea is to force you to get down a first draft, or at least those first few horribly difficult paragraphs. And for me, it really worked.
But then, I'm a bit weird like that. When I was a student, I actively enjoyed my English exams. I did a degree which included 9 modules, and only two of them were assessed on coursework - one of which was a dissertation and the other of which took the form of two extended essays. The other seven were all timed exams, three hours apiece. Actually hearing the clock ticking away the seconds and knowing that each tick was another small step towards me throwing away my future and humiliating myself if I didn't write something pretty damn brilliant RIGHT NOW was easily the best form of motivation I've ever had.
So much so that I took almost the same approach with my dissertation. If I recall correctly, I had two terms to research and write it. Instead, I did the whole thing in, I think, four days. Research, writing, editing, everything. I handed it in five minutes before the deadline with the ink still warm.
If you think this was a foolhardy approach, then yes, it probably was in the sense that it knocked about two years off my life expectancy, but academically it must have been sound, because I got a 1st class degree and won a prize for my dissertation.
I took great pleasure in pointing that out, quite forcefully, to a friend - well, now ex-friend, rather unsurprisingly - who used to lecture me in a patronising manner about time management and pacing oneself and how my approach was all wrong. I asked her how well this approach served her when she did her degree. Turns out she got a 2.2.
Sometimes, I really do take pleasure in being an immensely horrible person. Although in my defence, this horribleness is at least mostly driven by a fondness for pricking pomposity when I think it's really necessary. There are some people, I think, who genuinely need to be taken down a peg or two to prevent them, for their own good, from becoming utterly insufferable for the rest of their natural lives. The person in this case was undoubtedly one of them. ;-)
My favourite question today from the Books & Authors section of Yahoo Answers:
Harlem witchcraft trial books...?
i am very interested in this subject.. i would likee a book not a history book about the harlem witch triels... and it doesnt have to be a triel itself but just the whole time or a person.. thanks