Monday, December 11, 2006

Gettin' Back on the Wagon

After the partying this weekend, I managed to get quite a bit of work done. Unfortunately, it wasn't the kind of work I wanted to be doing. Instead of writing, I was cleaning the kitchen and cooking and wrapping and cleaning... You get the idea.

I ended Sunday with a sense of accomplishment, because I did get a lot done, but I also went to bed with a familiar sense of disappointment and guilt. While other writers can make the excuse that the holidays are too busy to focus entirely on writing, I know the holidays aren't my only problem.

Lately, I've been trying to get my house on the market, keep up with kids, work, and do for family and friends. So I get caught up in whatever the project of the moment is and forget about most everything else. Well, not entirely. Everything else that needs to be accomplished mocks me from the far corners of my mind, reminding about priorities and being true to myself. Sometimes, it is easy to push that voice aside and focus on the task at hand. Other times it isn't.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I know the holidays aren't the only thing keeping me from my writing. Since about July I've let external forces propel me in other directions, putting my writing on the backburner. I haven't neglected it entirely, but it hasn't occupied the place of honor I would like it to on my To Do List. And I'm not really sure why. I'm in the rewrite phase of this book and that's usually the phase I enjoy the most.

But what can I do about it? How can I get back into the writing flow I enjoyed earlier this year? Once again experience that burst of energy focused on my story? I looked back through some writing handouts I had to refresh my memory. You can also find some helpful hints in my article Writing Smarts for This Holiday Season in the Writing Playground School archives (see, just because I write it, doesn't mean I always live it).

1. Find a buddy.
This could be a critique partner, fellow author or chapter member, online contact, or mentor. Give this person your goal (make it reasonable for this time of year!!!), and ask them to help you stick to it. Not just accept your excuses when you don't meet it, but gently nudge you in the right direction when you backslide.

2. Keep track of your progress on a calendar.
I keep a calendar right next to my desk and record daily writing accomplishments on it. That way I can look back and see my progress. Unfortunately, I've had more blank days than I'm proud of in the last few months. But it feels really great when I do get to jot something down at the end of the day.

3. Just write.
When you are writing with a goal of publication, you can't sit around and wait for the muse to strike. Well, you can, but unless your muse is a very busy sort, you'll get nowhere fast. So sit down and work on something, anything, even if it is just a page each day. Eventually the fire will relight itself.

4. Oil the gears.
Sometimes I'm just not able to write, but I can prewrite all day long. Prewriting includes brainstorming your plotline, thinking about your characters and how they would react to different situations, concentrating on a particular scene and trying out various ending scenarios until you find one that fits... you get the idea. I love to prewrite and it will get me in the writing mood faster than just about anything. Plus, I'm actually accomplishing something toward finishing my book. Mondays are pretty much a non-writing day for me, because they are just too full. But if I take notes and THINK about my characters and plot while I'm running around, then by Tuesday I'm ready to go.

Okay, this all sounds great, but what am I REALLY going to do about getting back on the writing wagon? Well, I think I'll employ a couple of the above techniques and ask my fellow Playfriends to keep me accountable. I want to write SOMETHING, ANYTHING on my book five out of seven weekdays throughout December. May just be one page, maybe five, but at least turn on the Alphasmart and do something. What do you say? Are you with me?



Linda Winstead Jones said...

I have to admit, I get very little done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. With everything going on, it's just impossible. Trying to do it all gets frustrating, and then nothing at all happens.

I'm very big on the butt-in-chair philosophy (as y'all well know :-)) but I also know from experience that sometimes life gets in the way and all we can do is roll with it.

If you want to get back to your project before the holidays are over, set goals and use your tools, but don't push yourself too hard. Don't push the joy out of the work. January will be here before we know it. :-)


Smarty Pants said...

Normally I would sign up, but I think I'm just going to let it go and enjoy myself for the last few weeks of the year. If the mood and the time happen to coincide, I may write, but if not, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I need to do some more prewriting anyway. I'm not sure what happens in the next four chapters. Hmm...


Problem Child said...

I'm with you Angel. Everyone knows I'm really bad about letting the world take over and getting caught up in the details of life.

I have company in town today, but wanna start tomorrow? We can agree that we'll both write SOMETHING each weekday, even if it's just a paragraph?

Angel said...

The universe must be expecting me to put my words into actions. I went to clean my sisters house today and found myself unexpectedly locked out. So now I'm back home trying to figure out the new schedule for today. :)


Kathy said...

At this point, I'm afriad to commit to anything. I have been sitting here, looking at the calendar. Yikes! Four more days until the price of shipping goes up and I've still got to wrap all the presents and package them. There is another deadline approaching. I'm getting christmas cards already and I haven't even started on mine. The house is a mess and I don't know what I'm baking this year. None of my presents for that matter are wrapped and my #2 child is calling because she is experiencing a major catastrophy at school. Yada. Yada. Yada. I'm spent.


Rhonda said...

I second what LJ said. Sometimes you've just got to give your muse a little break. I'm working until the kids get out of school, then beyond that, I'm putting everything aside until they go back to school. I won't get anything done with them here, anyway, so beating myself up over it isn't going to help. :-)

You're not a slacker, Angel!

Pat said...

With all the holiday prep, cant imagine anyone trying to get some chapters written.

Angel said...

Well, not too bad. I spent 30 minutes revising 2 pages, then went on to mail packages, clean up, schedule client appts, and lunch etc.

I don't want to bust out the whole book this month, but I do want to start building momentum. I think this is going to help.

Rhonda, I think you are right. It is so hard to work with the kids home. But I'm used to one running around all the time anyway. Luckily, by the time Nicole is out of school, Christmas will be here. And there are days when I won't be able to do things, like the day she has her school party (I'll be helping 17 children make reindeer food! Where was my brain when I signed up for that one?).

Playground Monitor said...

Holidays just aren't designed for getting much else done, especially when you're the decorator/shopper/baker/wrapper/mailer/card writer & addresser/everything elser.

I was excited to just jot down ideas for 3 possible short stories last night.

Don't be too hard on yourself. You accomplish so much anyway, maybe just not writing, but if you look at the overall picture you'll see that lots gets done on your watch.


Lois said...

OH, I'm all for doing something, but I oh so rarely do that. Maybe I will right now! LOL :)

Lois, who was purposely trying to not make much sense. ;)

Instigator said...

I'm with you, Angel. I have so much going on right now *Instigator hangs her head in anticipation of the NO lecture yet again* But if I don't set myself those goals and stick to them I won't get any of the to do list done.

But I agree with everyone else, this time of year goes by so quickly anyway with parties, shopping, wrapping, if we try and add too much more it all flies by in a blurr.