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Behavior Modification

When my new novella characters popped into my head last weekend, I set a rule: Must finish daily wad on Hunted in Shadow before sitting down to plot.  Okay, fine.  Did that.  Finished the plot in 3 or 4 days.

Then I wanted to start writing it because I’ve got that giddy, going out on a date with somebody really awesome feeling about it–otherwise known as Sexy Next Book (or Novella in this case).  So that I don’t just abandon HiS and have an affair with this new story, same rule applies.  I must get my daily minimum done on HiS (500 words) before moving on to play.

And I did that.  And the first scene of the novella is done (1370 something words in 2 days, along with knocking out my weekly goal on HiS).  And it’s good.  Oh I’m sure there’s something that can be improved upon, but it’s the first first draft of something I’ve written in almost a year that I felt good about as a writer.  Unlike HiS, when I sat down to write this novella, I had my voice immediately.  I had the tone of the story.  And I managed to convey it on the first attempt.

Let me tell you, I’ve been seriously needing an injection of confidence.  My method has been so different on HiS that, despite my deep faith in the solidity of the story itself, I have been mired in suckitude for a few months about the prose itself.  Oh, it can certainly be polished and fixed in revisions, and that’s part of my grand Take Myself And My Writing Seriously As A Career Plan wherein I used traditional behavior modification techniques to establish good writing habits.  That was always the plan, since I’ve been on a crusade to change my habit of polishing as I go in order to actually force myself to FINISH something again.  To push myself to slog through the middle on to the end.  Which I’ve been doing.  I filled in 3 of those middle holes just this week.  I only have one left and then I’ll be forced to move forward (Pot hypothesizes I’ve got some kind of phobia about it or somthing).

But this new novella inserts something into the equation that hasn’t been there in a while.  Positive reinforcement.  It’s like saying to a kid “you can have chocolate chip cookies if you clean your room.”  You rush through the sucky chore to get to the cookies.  Which is not to say that HiS is a chore, but I’ve had more of those days than not lately, and it’s been forcing me to drag my feet a bit.  By making the rule that I can’t work on the shiny new novella that I AM excited about until I finish 500 words on HiS, I am positively reinforcing myself for doing the work (not to mention that seeing the word count on both of them rise is very reinforcing).

Now, I’m sure that this new novella and I will exit the Pre-Fault Period of our relationship eventually (I can’t imagine that it will stay easy the whole way through), but for now, I’m going to sail on that ship as far as it will take me.

In the meantime, I am headed to Tupelo to hang with my mom for a few hours before trucking it on over to Oxford for Melissa Francis‘ booksigning at Square Books a 6 this afternoon!

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