Wednesday, November 14, 2012

what dieting and writing have in common

I was having a conversation with my editor the other day, and she expressed surprise that I'd written 50 pages in the month or so since we'd talked. She asked when I write during the school year, and I told her that I'm doing NaNoWriMo with my creative writing kids so that's forty-five minutes right there. Add in another forty-five minutes or so before I pick up my kids from daycare, and that's ninety minutes I was able to carve out of my day for writing. Not a TON of time, but it adds up.

Then I made some comparison between writing and dieting. I'm not sure I articulated it well then, but I'll try to do so here:

It's all about numbers adding up over time.

I've lost fifty pounds in the last six months. A pound is made up of roughly 3,500 calories of energy. So I've burned 175,000 more calories than I've taken in during that time. If you figure a month is about thirty days, then six months would be about 180 days. So I've burned, on average, just under 1000 calories more than I take in per day. That's about an hour of exercise (500 calories) and not drinking a McDonalds mocha frappe (probably about 500 calories) every day. Now, I've simplified what is a very complicated process for the purposes of my comparison. But you can see, those small changes really do add up over time.

The same concept applies with writing. I may only have ninety minutes a day to write, but if I'm able to turn out 1000 words during that time, I could write a 60,000 word novel in two months. And that's kind of what I'm going for right now. (FYI, I've fallen sooo behind in NaNo, so I'm extending into the month of December with my WIP rough draft.)

I think there's also something to be said for momentum and seeing those numbers add up. If I miss a few days on my diet and see the number on the scale go up, I'm so not excited about doing the work to lose that pound AGAIN. I think that's what happened to me last week when I revised my rough draft and lost several thousand words. Guess that's why they tell you NOT TO REVISE during NaNoWriMo. Just get the words down. Then you have the clay to sculpt when you start the revision process. Lesson learned.

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