Last Friday morning I headed up to my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains west of Canon City. It’s a long drive on dirt roads, and with much of the land belonging to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) it can be a bit of an obstacle course with the free-range cows.
My goal was to spend three days by myself getting some solid writing done on my current mystery novel, Paint It Red.
It was also a bit of an experiment.
I’ve never had that much time on my hands to just write. Alone. No kids. Not even my dog for company (no dogs allowed at the Mehring cabin — and I’m not about to break the rules when I get to stay there for free!).
I had no idea how much writing I’d actually be able to get done.
Now, for context, I’ve been averaging 4,000 words per week writing at night after the kids go to bed. Not shabby, but also not going to get me to my production goal.
Friday afternoon and evening, I busted out about 2,000 words. Pretty good.
Saturday I slept in a little bit, then figured I had all day, so I took my time getting going in the morning. Midway through the morning, I got a text from my father-in-law that he needed to stop by to fix a window really quickly — no big deal, I expected it, that wouldn’t derail me.
I walked down the road to the gate to unlock it so he could drive up to the cabin.
And that’s when I ran into the neighbor.
Neighbor J is a nice guy. Super friendly, full of great stories about life in rural Colorado — chasing off bears (!) and poachers (!). He was concerned that I didn’t have a pistol on me. I assured him I was okay, and if a bear tried to break into the cabin, I’d clang pots and pans together to scare it off. After all, I’ve seen more bears in my neighborhood in Colorado Springs than I’ve ever seen out in the wild.
In general, bears don’t scare me.
Yet … walking back to the cabin that day, I was on high alert for both bears and those evil poachers who don’t have brains in their heads and might shoot me because I’m moving.
When I got back to the cabin, I did a bit more writing until my in-laws arrived. They were only there for about 10 minutes, and when they left I decided it was lunchtime.
I brought a lot of junkfood with me on this trip. (I’m a healthier human being when I’m home, apparently.) So after lunch, of course I needed a nap.
After a nap, I wrote more until dinner time.
All in all, when I went to bed at 10:30 Saturday night, I’d gotten 5,000 words written.
I was devastated.
Was I really that lazy? Could I even do this novelist thing if I couldn’t write more when I had long stretches of uninterrupted time? Did I have to have the distraction of daily life with my family to make myself write? WHO WAS I???
Sunday morning, I decided to find out.
I got up early, ate a healthy breakfast, and sat in front of my laptop at the kitchen table.
In the few hours I had on Sunday before I had to head back to “real life,” I wrote another 5,000 words.
Total for the weekend: 10,000 brand-spanking-new words.
I have somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 words left to write before the first draft of this novel is DONE.
I won’t hit my stretch goal of finishing the first draft by my birthday (just a few days away), but I will definitely have it done by the end of Sept. And that puts me one huge step closer to my bigger goal of a clean second draft to send to my beta readers by Halloween.