Writing Regimen: the Five-Two

The rhythm is familiar. Rhythm and familiarity make the work sublime. It can also be a grind but I’ll get to that.

I’ve got the bit in my mouth on my latest novel (I, Fisheye) for a little over a month now. December was the swirl of possibilities, the slow whittling or careful nurturing of the bombastic and the beautiful. January began scheduled writing in earnest. I’ve been here before, writing on regimen: three parts, 26 chapters, two chapters a week, each chapter about 1500 words.

By April Fool’s Day the first draft is done.

The rhythm is five-and-two: a chapter in five weeknights; a chapter in two weekend days; a chapter in five weeknights; and so on ’til April. No time to polish. Time now only to advance.

In April I tear the chapters up one part at a time, ten days for each part. When May rolls around I’ll have a respectable copy for the intrepid Beta reader.

Perhaps I should introduce my pre-Beta for I, Fisheye. Will ten-year-old Vikram, the inspiration and muse for my first effort in the mid-grade genre, enjoy these chapters as I write? I hope so. I hope that by having him by my side on the weekends I’ll be driven to produce a better-quality first draft. Did I mention that, like his brother before him, Vikram is tapped to illustrate the novel?

Then there’s the grind. At a certain point, week two or ten or twelve, I’ll wish it was all over. I’ll wish I could step off the five-two rhythm and write what I want. But I won’t. Because what happens if I do, and come July 22nd, when Mohan turns eight, all I have to offer is some half-baked first draft of a novel about finding that first perfect friend, staking a place in the world, and uncovering the mystery of what makes us laugh, cry, and believe in things like UFOs?

No, this piece is meant to remind me to stop writing pieces like this* rather than hit my five-two rhythm. The less you hear from me this month and next, the better. It means I’m writing.

*Forthcoming post: breadcrumbs and other techniques.

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