Though it can be a pain, the review process is a good opportunity to look at what was planned, what happened, and what did and did not work. After finishing the reviews at work, I thought it would be a good exercise to repeat the process for my writing.
It did not go well.
When we started blogging here almost 2 ½ years ago, I think it’s fair to say we all had high hopes that we would finish the book we were working on before too long and move on to the next phase in our writing. I for one did not expect to still be trying to completely finish that first book.
I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but . . . .
“97% Of Writers Don’t Finish Their Book” ~ random fact from the internet
I want to be part of the 3%, but I am a master at getting things “almost” done.
I put hardwood floors in my house years ago. They’re 99.9% done and have been since I ran out of glue just before the last row of boards in one of the bedrooms. One distraction led to another and now, years later, those remaining boards are still sitting out there in the garage, waiting to be cut and put into place; mocking me when I pass them by.
It’s a family disorder. My dad was a master at using duct tape to hold things together “temporarily” until projects could be finished. For my mother, unfinished quilting projects were left pinned together, awaiting their edging or some final embellishment.
There is actually a theory about why people don’t finish things (besides, I got lazy / tired / disinterested and didn’t want to). According to therapist friend of mine, it’s a way to keep people from criticizing your work. Your work can hardly be “wrong” if it’s “not finished yet.”
Interesting idea, but . . .
I have a pretty good draft of my book The Traitor just waiting to be finished and sent out into the world, sitting on the corner of the desk, going nowhere fast. I have a fairly decent 50,000 word start on my contemporary story “Second Chances” keeping it company.
I have the time to write.
I have minimal other commitments
I have supportive family and friends
So, what’s getting in the way?
Yep, instead of maintaining a consistent writing process, I get distracted and wander off and do other things. I get lost in the wilds of the internet and put off writing until “tomorrow” or “the weekend.”
When Random Word Improv rolls around on Friday however, I have no trouble whipping out several hundred words in pretty short order. If I can do it for those stories, then there is no reason why I can’t do it for the other stories I have in progress, if I’m really serious about writing.
In my post a few weeks ago, I asked “where does writing fit in your life?” It’s pretty clear to me that I’ve been treating my writing as a hobby in recent months rather than giving it the career focus I started out with.
So, it’s time for a writer reboot.
How do I do that? Three things:
- Small deadlines
One reason that my NaNo experience was successful last November (besides the fact that I had a story I was really enthused about) was that I posted my progress publicly every day. There was no way I wanted a string of “didn’t meet my goal again” posts. Wanting to be able to say that I had met my daily goal kept me focused on what I was doing and kept me from giving up and moving on to the next new shiny idea. So, this month I’m hoping you’ll help keep me accountable. I’ll be documenting my progress at the bottom of my posts here every Wednesday.
Experience has shown that writing every day is the best way for me to stay on track. The 1,667 words a day for NaNo was okay in the short-term, but not sustainable in conjunction with the demands of the day job, so I’m going to set my daily goal at 500 words. I’ve had no trouble hitting that target for the Friday Improv entries, so I should be able to hit it for my WIP. By the end of the month, that will give me 14,000 that I didn’t have before. The long range goal is to completely finish the book, but I’m going to focus on the smaller daily word goal so I don’t wind up feeling overwhelmed by Finish the Book.
The only thing missing now is a little fun. The Friday Improv stories have been fun, and they definitely leave me feeling more creative. So, part of my writing reboot includes doing something writing-related but fun at least once a week. This week that involves mocking up a pretend cover for my recent improv story and brainstorming log-lines/back-cover-copy. I’ll share some of the results on Friday.
So, how is your own writing going? Have you found a process that works for you or are you in need of your own reboot?