Posted on May 15, 2004 Posted by John Scalzi
Anyone who thinks writing a blog or journal is like feeding an ever-gaping mouth should try writing a book on a very short deadline. The Book of the Dumb 2 is on just such a deadline — it’s due in a couple of months — and so that means that that in order to finish it, one must be both relentless and methodical. Relentless in the sense that each day and every day, I need to crank out five entries (which is 2,000 words, more or less).
Methodical in that the schedule needs to be adhered to; excepting an official holiday like my birthday, any day I write fewer than five entires, those entries need to be picked up on another day. Thursday I didn’t write any entries — I had errands to run and it’s Krissy’s school night, so I had to keep Athena amused — and yesterday (Friday) I only did five (although I finished up the last two after midnight), so I need to pick up the other five over the weekend, probably by doing seven entries one day and eight the next. The good news, as I noted before, is that 2004 appears to be a bumper crop year for stupidity, so I’m not lacking in topics.
The issue is not one of creativity, it’s one of mechanics. I’m having fun with the book — it’s hard not to, given the subject — but no matter how you slice it, 2,000 words a day is a grind. I enjoy writing the entries once I begin, but I procrastinate something fierce before I start. This is why the last two Friday pieces actually got written after midnight on Saturday.
What’s the upside? Well, in two weeks I’ve written 60 entries, and 22,000 words. Another 60 in the next two weeks (which is actually less than five entries a day, but never mind that for the moment) with a similar word count and then suddenly half the book is done. Another month of that, and then I’ll still have a month to do tweaking of content and some special targeted entries. And still be able to take a week off to depressurize (which will be important, believe me). It’s doable, and it’s not too hard from the creative writing standpoint. But it means sticking to a schedule.
And after that? Well, then right off to other projects (although I will probably take an additional few days off at the very end to sleep). In addition to the gaping maw of this book, there’s the gaping maw of life, which must be fed. That’s my job around here: Feeding the maws. Most of the time, there are worse gigs.
Whatever Everyone Else is Saying