Bless me writers, for I have sinned. It’s been over two weeks since my last check in. How is that even possible? I feel like I blinked and suddenly February is almost over.
The good news is that while I’ve been gone, I got some writing done. I’m a few thousand words into Drawn Together and I am having fun. I’m also writing a TON for work, so it has been hard to turn it back on once I’m home and relaxing. One small drawback of a writing-intensive day job—you aren’t always jazzed about spending your free time trying to make the muses behave.
This week, however, I will be kicking it into high gear. Drawn is pretty perfect for an anthology call that’s been pointed out to me, which means I have to finish a draft pretty darn soon in order to have it edited, critiqued, and edited some more in time for the submission date. I may not make that, but I’d like to try. Eeek! My goals just get loftier. You’d think I would learn.
Outside of writing, we are just getting more and more ready to move. I can’t wait to be out of our apartment and into our house…especially because of the sweet writer’s den/craft room I’ll have! Do you have a special writing room or area? It will be so fun to set mine up.
So, here are this week’s goals:
- Write at least 1,000 words a day on Drawn. More on Tuesday for sure at my writer hangout.
- Set a plan to meet for writing and editing Drawn for the submission call.
I also want to do at least one chore a day that gets me inching closer to being packed and moved! What are your goals (writing and non-writing) for the week?
One of the most dangerous things about being a writer is dealing with ideas that strike like lightning. You’re focused on one project, and all of a sudden all you can think of is the shiny new plot that has forced itself to the forefront of your mind.
I had a bit of idea lightning hit me last night while watching television and doing some copyediting. It’s funny how something completely innocuous can trigger the weird plotting thought process, but before I knew it I had a text file with over 500 words of plot outline in it.
It would be fun to work on right now, even though my current writing plan involves focusing on my YA novel–a project that, quite frankly, I am having trouble with. The more I write, the more the key themes and ideas mirror those in a popular, already-published book (even though I started working on the idea long before that book came out, all that matters is that it came out first), and the twist is giving me fits. I really need to strip it back to basics and rework it so it no longer bears resemblance to another (fantastic) book, which fills me with dread but needs to happen before I can really take this thing to the finish line.
It is tempting to focus on this new, shiny idea and just let myself write. I need a project that isn’t so complex, that I can finish and feel good about, that is fun and easy to write. A writer friend of mine has a short story idea that she doesn’t even want to write down because she has so many other projects to work on. What do you do when a shiny new idea distracts you from your current project ? Do you shelve it, forget it, or do you let it carry you away, at least for a little while?
I can’t believe December is almost here. This year has flown by, and the past month has been strange. My goals for November caved under the news that I was losing my job. I’ve never been laid off before and it has been a very difficult and emotional experience. I was lucky to have some freelance work right away as I looked for a new position, and I’ve had some very promising interviews that I hope will blossom into good news this week. I have been trying to stay as positive as possible, but it is harder than I thought it would be to keep the cheerful face on all the time.
Despite quite a bit more time to myself than I planned, I havent’t been able to concentrate on writing unless it was for my freelance work or a part of my job interviews. I had to accept the fact that with all I have on my mind, National Novel Writing Month simply wasn’t going to happen for me. I have never been so stressed I couldn’t write. I’ve been so busy I couldn’t write, but this has been an entirely new range of emotions. Every time I have sat down to work on my young adult WIP, I haven’t tapped out more than a few lines at a time. I managed to choke out almost 8,000 words of my novel before acknowledging that my hard work was likely needed elsewhere, such as looking for jobs or preparing for interviews. It makes me feel like even more of a failure than the lay off did.
Thankfully, this time of year is about fresh starts. Looking back, October and November have been when I have sunk the lowest…and December and January are when amazing new opportunities have always surfaced. I am going to face 2012 knowing that it holds all the promise in the world and set my goals accordingly.
I am lucky to have some amazing writer friends who not only are awesome and fun ladies, but keep me going when I feel like I can’t do this writing thing. They have their own goals and I love seeing them accomplish new things, like book contracts (!!!!) and new drafts finished. This year we are starting a goals group to keep ourselves accountable and encouraged. I have been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in the coming year, and the job loss has actually helped me.
I feel like I’ve started fighting for what I really want again. I have been complacent in the last year professionally, assuring myself that things would get better if I just gave them time. Being laid off has been awful, but it helped me realize that I wasn’t happy. I don’t think I was being utilized as fully as I could have been, and I only have myself to blame for that. I made it clear that I could do things, but I didn’t push for them. That isn’t me…I am pretty confident and I make things happen. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t making things happen, and now that I have some distance from it all, I think it is because I wasn’t in the right place.
Fighting to find (and get!) the right kind of job has also helped me realize that I haven’t been fighting hard enough for my own dreams outside the workplace. There is always the idea in my mind that I can do things later, that I need to see my husband because our schedules are so opposite one another, that I need to have a social life, that I need to relax. Those things are all important, but they don’t fight for my dreams at all. They sometimes hinder moving forward on them, in fact. I need to start fighting myself for the time to make dreams come true.
I know that it won’t be easy…one of the things that was great about my old job is that I could leave work at work most days, and I had a great work-life balance. Doing what I really want to do professionally may mean that I have less of that balance than I have enjoyed the past year, and that means that I need to be even more deliberate about working the dream and goal time into the free time. I will have to make some sacrifices on occasion. But that is okay, because I am coming out of this corner fighting again, and I am willing to do the hard stuff.
Have you ever been through a hard time like this as a writer? What are you doing to realize your dreams in the middle of the rest of your life?
It’s October. The air is getting crisper (and for Dallas, that means under 90), the leaves are turning (and for Dallas, that means dying and falling off the trees), and it’s time to prepare like crazy for writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
NaNoWriMo (otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month) is the 30 days out of the year that I go momentarily insane and decide that even though it’s the start of what always turns out to be the busiest time of year, both personally and professionally, it’s a GREAT idea to write at least 1,667 words per day. This year it’s going to be compounded by the fact that my husband and I are moving into a house in January and we have a LOT of wallpaper stripping and painting to do (and an estate sale to have) as well as an entire apartment to pack. Crazy? Yeah, that’s me.
Writing on a novel can be really hard for me to do every day because, well, I do it every day. A large part of my job involves writing and being creative. I have been feeling creatively numb the last few months and not inspired. I have to be rigid about making myself write regularly and, quite frankly, I have failed miserably.
All this makes it sound like NaNo is a terrible idea for me, but it is actually great. NaNo holds me accountable and makes me re-form my habits of writing every day OUTSIDE the office. NaNo pushes me and challenges me. It can be a chore sometimes, but if I am unmotivated it completely reinvigorates my creativity and my writing. I am looking forward to that.
I am trying to write on an idea that I have been messing with since 2005. Its current incarnation is a YA fantasy. I’ve tried more than once to write it for NaNo and failed–both at getting to 50K and at completing the story. This year will be the year I tackle it head on and make it work. I am really excited about the plot right now because I feel like I have worked out some of the issues that made it not work before.
Another reason I really enjoy NaNo is that it gives me the perfect excuse to hang out with the friends I made LAST NaNo. My husband has a crazy school and work schedule that keeps him out until around 11 every night now, so I need something to do to keep me occupied other than packing and stripping floral wallpaper off my future library room walls.
I will be spending the next 20 days fleshing out the main plot points of my novel and working on an outline. I am not a pantster, though sometimes I play one at work. I write best and easiest when I have a plan in front of me (or at least really, really good notes). I wouldn’t have gotten to 50K the last couple of years without my super detailed outlines. If I discover anything as I write, it is the characters and their personalities. The plot has to be planned out pretty well for me to churn through the required wordcount. I want to be ready to start pounding out words on November 1.
Who else is doing NaNoWriMo? Are you getting ready?
I follow a blog called Sustainably Creative by Michael Nobbs. It’s not specifically about writing, but more about the push to be creative and how hard that can be. Michael suffers from Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which can leave him with very low energy levels. That makes it very hard to keep up with a creative career, but Michael manages and that is quite an inspiration to me.
Over the past three years, I have struggled with health problems that left me exhausted, dispirited and uninspired. Things are exponentially better for me now that I know what is wrong with me and how to treat it. I’m back to my old self, feeling great 99% of the time and more creative than ever, but there was a point where I didn’t have the energy to be creative at all. I barely had the energy or to get out of bed and go to work, and even then I didn’t always make it. I was in pain all the time and it wore on me mentally and physically.
Michael posted a blog entry today that I wish I had read when I was feeling bad all the time. I have always been a creative person, and feeling so sick that I didn’t want to write, craft or learn new things was a foreign concept to me. But Michael has a great approach to this that we can all learn from, whether you’re too sick to write or just feeling completely overwhelmed with your project or your life.
Little and often. If you write a little on your WIP every day, you’ll be that much closer to writing “The End” on a future day. If you research a little every day, you’ll be that much closer to being ready to write your historical novel or your sci-fi novella. If you read about the craft of writing a little every day, you’ll be that much more informed and you’ll slowly but surely become a better writer for it.
That has been my mindset for this month of the ROW80 challenge, as well as just rebooting my writing habits in general. I typically thrive under challenges and deadlines, but they can also overwhelm me at times until I power through. This isn’t such an issue now that I have a much better work-life balance than I did before, but it can still happen when a week stacks up just right. But the “little and often” approach makes things so much easier. If I just do a little—a little writing or planning for my blogs, a little plotting on my current WIP, a little freewriting for one of my characters—it’s better than wasting my time bemoaning the fact that I don’t have time to write or I don’t feel like writing. I can always find a few minutes.
Last night I was tired from too little sleep the night before, full from a really great dinner, and all I felt like doing was watching some Netflix and going to bed early. I did those things, but I also did a little plotting on my novel. I didn’t even MEAN to work on it, but before I realized it I had my Scrivener file open and I was working on the story arc. I didn’t do much, but I felt better having done just a little to add to my progress.
Typically during my work day I will take a break for lunch, and then another 15 or 20 minute mind rest later in the afternoon. During these times I try to do something like work on a blog post, write a snippet of dialog, or read a chapter of a book on craft or a novel in my genres. When I get home at night, I will usually relax a little, eat dinner, spend some time with my husband and then work a little more on blogging, plotting or writing. Sometimes I will stop and start that process so I can do things like laundry or cooking. But I try to accomplish something by at least doing a little bit as often as I can.
Remember, if you’re having a crazy day, week or month, you can always make progress. It might not be 2,000 words a day or 50,000 words a month, but moving forward is moving forward. You can sustain your creativity a little at a time, as often as possible.