By Cindy Jones
My Revised New Year’s Resolution: to finish my new novel NEXT WEEK!
Six weeks into 2011 and I’m already revising my goals for the year. When My Jane Austen Summer was sold, eighteen months ago, I set a goal: To Sell My Second Book Before The First Book Was Published. I had a first chapter and enough ideas to forge ahead. And I imagined I would forge ahead as soon as things settled down from the sale of my first novel. But even when I wasn’t responding to agent and editor, revising, copyediting, and meeting deadlines, I was cultivating Facebook, launching a blog, and learning to tweet. There was no settling down. Absolutely everything was a learning curve. And learning curves eat time.
My new novel was scheduled for completion last summer. But summer passed, and the completion date was moved to the fall. And then year-end. But there was no time for a new novel. Months flew by when I did not even open my new novel file at all. At one point, I completely forgot the name of the protagonist and had to search the manuscript to find it.
I once wondered why authors sequester themselves in remote cabins to finish a novel. Now I know. The only time I actually made progress on my new novel was when I was away from home. We have no internet access where I go in the summer, and without the lure of the web, I was able to immerse myself in my new novel and make progress. When I am in the noise and chaos of a ski lodge, I can concentrate just fine. I can work on an airplane. And I discovered that writing the second novel doesn’t take as long since I don’t have to repeat the trial and error of lessons learned the first time around. I could finish another novel if I could just leave home long enough to do it.
So, I’m leaving home.
I will be retreating to a place where six days of utter isolation and lack of demands will allow me to devote all of my energies to my new novel. I don’t know how long I can sit at a computer without getting stale but I intend to find out. And I will report back. I will eat, sleep, walk the beach, and write. No blogs, no status updates, no brainstorming, and absolutely no twittering. I won’t go to the grocery store or carpool line. No girls’ lunch or coffee for a whole week. Yikes! And if I don't make progress I'll give up the retreat and go home early.
But my official goal is to finish my new novel NEXT WEEK.
If you have gone on a solo writing retreat please tell me what worked for you. Warn me of the pitfalls and tell me what to pack.