I wrote 4377 words yesterday. How the heck did I do that? And 1300 the day before! And even after I deleted 743 words I still brought my word count up to almost 60k on Misplaced Affection. This is amazing! One of the hardest things writers face is "Writer's block" and how we get it differs from person to person but it is there, looming in the darkness just beyond our imagination waiting to strike. Some say their "muse left them" or "I lost my voice", but essentially it is the same thing. Something inside STOPS and you can't write. I have experienced this often.
In January I wrote almost every single day and I was so excited about this. It was a goal to write every day and I nearly did it. Then February rolled around and NOTHING! It was like the characters all died and there was nothing to write about. I wanted to write, I had goals in mind, but nothing came. I have written here and there over the last few months, but not nearly enough since I wanted this WIP to be done by now. I have other writing goals to achieve!
For me, I see myself sitting on a pendulum that swings between two worlds--the writing world and the home-life world. I went through spells of being on one extreme or the other. In 2006 ALL I did was write. It consumed me. I did not write well, I use passive voice way too much, but I wrote all the time. I did nothing else. Then years later I found myself on the other side of the spectrum were I wrote nothing. I spent all my time and energy on my family and strove to be a good wife and mother. I still did not have a clean house all the time so I'm not sure what I actually did! I find now that the pendulum does';t swing as wildly as it used to. I think part of that is having support at home to do my actual writing. There was a time I can remember when I hid my computer and did NOTHING while people were home. I wasn't supposed to be writing and it pained me to hide. I am not there any longer. I write while people talk to me at the dining room table if I have a thought. Being about to write and feel proud about it helps me to balance myself.
Which brings me to an article I read in the newest edition of RWA magazine. The title is "Seven Habits of Effective Writers" and reading it reenforced some things I have heard writers say. (I am not going to quote the article, I am going to list things I gained from it.)
1. Write! It is important to write every day and establish a time to do that. If you are a night person, then write at night. A day person? Then write in the morning. We can not be writers if we do not exercise our gifts. It needs to be treated like a job, not a hobby. Jobs have set hours, writing can have set hours too. For me, in the morning works best, but AFTER the kids are in school!
2. Playing off of #1, writers need to structure themselves and allow "down time". Yesterday was the most productive I have been, but I did not sit here at the table the entire time. I got up and walked outside. I pet my dog. I ate lunch. I wrote a scene and then walked around the yard talking to myself to toss around scenarios of the next part. I was focused on my characters, but I walked away from the computer several times. If my time to write is best between 9am- 3:30pm, then I need to take advantage of the quiet and write! Those are "banker hours" and I need to make them work.
3. I have to know myself and the danger zones! I am on a computer. I have Wi-Fi. I can connect to Facebook any time of the day. Warning: Facebook and Twitter are huge TIME SUCKAGE blackholes. Yes, they are great, but if you are not aware of how much time you are on there the day can disappear before the writing gets started. Be aware of your weaknesses and do not wander around the internet for hours. OR, if you like to, write first, play second!
4. Balance yourself. My writing life and personal life need to work together. I HAVE TO network and get on Facebook, but I do not have to do that to the expense of everyone around me. I am trying to mess around online between 9-3, but I also write in those hours. I can get online before 9, but I also have lunches to make and breakfast for my son to prepare. I have things to do and I need to figure out the best way to juggle them. Like laundry. I CAN throw in a load and then write, get up and throw it in the dryer and then write more. Same with dishes and food shopping. But leaving the house ALSO takes up much of my day so I need to learn how to write before I leave, or split the word count so I can manage writing before and after I leave. Because…. I also have friends and I normally see them during the day. I can not write all day like yesterday EVERY DAY. I wish!
5. Pay attention to how much time marketing and technical web-stuff takes! This should also be worked into the schedule. Updating a website might seem like no big deal to some, but to others it can take up your whole day! Update the website more often, or set aside one day a week to make sure it has what you want on it. I know I have dropped the ball on my "Current news" section of my web page. I think I listed something months ago. Why? I have blogged more often maybe? I also have the Wade Brigade FB page and I'm posting news there for my fans. Marketing and networking is important, but always remember that the marketing does nothing if you have nothing to sell. WRITE FIRST!!!
6. The article also mentions "support systems" like in AA meetings where you have a sponsor or something. People you can talk to and commiserate with. I think I have that. I haven't really thought about it that way. I think it happened by accident while I was simply making friends with writers. Greg Payne is a great motivator. And if I ever need something breezed over I could probably ask Jeff or Will. Knowing who will read an excerpt and who likes to read an ENTIRE MS is also go information. Some people just don't want a snippit. Know your friends! It took years for me to even consider a beta reader because I was afraid people would just hate my writing and tell me I suck. I am JUST starting to open up and ask people. But if you find people you can write with at Starbucks or something, having a buddy is good.
7. I think I read online a thing that said "Writing is your job, treat it like one!" Well, in some ways that is true. You have to see writing as a job because it NEEDS marketing and research and networking tools and those things take time. If you don't invest time to sell yourself, then the writing sits there. People / readers like to know who you are. So, talk to them! Go to conventions, talk online, e-mail people. It makes you real. BUt, that said, don't forget to pull away sometimes and take time to decompress. Being ON all the time at a Con is exhausting. I am a people person, but I need down time. In order for this to be a job I love, it has to remain fun, engaging, and new. Dragging myself to the computer to write is not always fun. We want to have FUN jobs, right? Find out what makes it fun, and then hold on to that!
Yesterday was FUN! I wrote! A lot!!!! I still doubt myself often, but I am so energized sometimes by things I write and how people respond. I WANT to make a difference in people's lives and I can only do that by writing and using my gift.
Thank you to all those out there who believe in me and support me! I need you.
Part of my schedule is to blog at least twice a week. Sometimes I miss a post, but I am trying!
What else to say??? Um. Join the Wade Brigade. Or subscribe to my blog via e-mail. Or e-mail me personally. Find me on Facebook or Twitter.
And stop by Matt and Brad at 2 Boys in Love and say hi. They have insightful things to say! ;)
And remember, this is PRIDE MONTH! UNITE FOR HUMANITY. We are all people in the pursuit of love and happiness. (I hope.)