Monday, May 08, 2006

Professional Schedule?

There's something that's been bothering me for quite a while. When I first decided I would pursue a writing career, I read somewhere that in order to attain that goal I had to behave like a professional. Show up at the computer and write every day, even if it was just a little bit. No slacking or I'd never see the fulfillment of my dream.

Being the perfectionist that I am, this became the vision for my writing path. I purchased a calendar and proceeded to log in every time I did something writing-related. I was never so proud as when I had a whole week with something listed for each day. That stretched into a month, then two. Finally I had several months under my belt with most days filled with little notes. This is it, I thought. I've finally established a writing schedule.

Then the unexpected happened: I became pregnant. I didn't know at the time that the baby was a boy, but I should have considering my mind turned to mush before I even found out. There's something about those male hormones. My brain hasn't been the same since. What I did know was that I was terrified. Having been through three previous miscarriages, that first trimester becomes a pregnant woman's worst nightmare. Every cramp and ache saw me running to the bathroom, fearful I'd find evidence that I was miscarrying.

As you can imagine, all this drama had a negative impact on my writing schedule. I spent a great deal of time in doctor's offices; the rest of the time I tried to hold and console my daughter. At three, she didn't understand why Mommy couldn't pick her up or do a lot of our normal activities together. Then there was that mush factor again: I couldn't string two words together to save my life! This continued throughout the pregnancy, compounded by stories from acquaintances who always had a tale about so-and-so who quit writing the minute she had a baby. I feared my dream of publishing a book wouldn't survive the pressures of "newborn baby land".

I've since learned this isn't true. Life does go on. My urge to write returned about six weeks after the birth of Little Man, though I didn't have much time to indulge. Instigator and I were pregnant at the same time, so we reassured each other a lot and encouraged each other to continue writing when we had the chance.

Though I'm slowly learning that my writing schedule must change according to my life circumstances, I still struggle with the notion that in order to truly succeed I must work on my book every day. That if I don't, I'm a failure in some way. That I'll never be a true professional. Probably that perfectionist side of me again. Now I look at my calendar and see many blank days. Some because I just couldn't find the time to write or didn't make the time. Others because I was in such a hurry that I got the writing done, but forgot to write it down. :)

Do you feel pressure as an unpublished writer to produce at a certain rate? If you're published, how did you handle this before you got The Call? What kind of writing schedule works for you?



Smarty Pants said...

This weekend at our luncheon, Stephanie Bond confessed to being a deadline junkie and took us through her 90 day countdown to her deadline. I was amazed - not only because she could finish a book in 90 days, but that she spent more than half of the time procrastinating. Now, she is a full time writer with no children at home, but still I wonder. Could I write a full book in 90 days if I sat down and just did it? If I sat down at my computer every day and produced something, even if it was junk I could revise? (We will ignore the fact that she did not factor in any time for revising.) I'm afraid to seriously ask myself if I could.

Instigator said...

Writing schedule? You do know who you're asking right? I just fit it in whenever I can. At car line, in the parking lot as gymnastics, at midnight so I can have silent bliss to create. There are days when the fact that I have to carve minutes out of my hectic day to write catches up with me and I simply can't function when I do have that time. And that's okay. I get done what I need to get done. Probably not as quickly as I'd like. But then I know my youngest will be in school full time in a couple years and I'll get back more hours in my day. Until then, I say sleep is overrated. :-)


Playground Monitor said...

Instigator wrote: But then I know my youngest will be in school full time in a couple years and I'll get back more hours in my day.

Excuse me while I laugh.

I thought that when I quit work 10 years ago. I thought that when #1 son left for college. I thought it again when #2 son left for college. I still think occasionally that I'll get back more hours in my day yet something or someone always interferes. Of course sometimes I let them interfere; sometimes I have no choice.

But I've been making a real attempt at writing something each day. It may be slop or it may be just a paragraph, but it's something. Just don't ask about this past weekend -- I wrote nothing except a really nice entry in the bed and breakfast's guest book.

Kathy said...

I was amazed by Stephanie's 90 day book schedule, too! Stephen King seems to agree with Stephanie's work ethic in, On Writing. According to Stephen King, if you take longer than 90 days, you lose the passion and vision for a book and it's characters.

I only wish I could write at that pace. I know that if I set guidelines for myself, as Danniele suggested with her daily routine, I would achieve a more concrete goal. The point is, if I sit in front of my computer and write, I know I'll get things done. But how do you ignore the voice crying out from the dark recesses of the brain before you get there? "There is laundry to be done, gardening to do, cleaning that's been neglected, errands to run, more things to volunteer to do, a deadine here and a deadline there, etc, etc..." A person could go nuts just thinking about all the things that are being neglected while she empties her mind onto paper!

Once again the luncheon was great inspiration. Being surrounded by authors who've found their magical rhythm is a humbling experience, proof that we have an attainable goal, and encouragement to all.

Should we all take Danniele's calendar challenge?

Oh yeah, welcome back, Danniele and congrates on your award!

The Wager Witch said...

I stumbled onto your blog looking for other gamers.

Uhm I know a few writers as well...

I can give you some links for serious writers:

All of these places have more links than I know what to do with and the first two are agents who have lots of information about the publishing industry.

As far as to whether I have time to write and how I find it? I just do it. I wait for everyone else to go to sleep and I give myself 2 hours a night. And I sleep a little less or a little later than everyone else. I drink a lot more tea and coffee. You can write a book in 90 days. Nanowrimo is a place that does just that.

Get yourself informed and much good luck to you.

From the Wager Witch