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?