Justine: Reconnecting with Writing

writing, editing, writer, justine covington, eight ladies writingIf you follow the blog regularly, you know that since RWA last summer, I haven’t done much work on Three Proposals, despite back-to-back Immersions in November and January. I’ve been spending a lot of time at my kids’ school since August as the Parent Service Organization (PSO) Vice President, having run a very successful Read-a-Thon last fall and having helped with a well-attended Daddy-Daughter Dance this past weekend. I’ve told the school that there’s no way I’m going to serve on the board next year. It’s time-consuming and while I love doing stuff for my kids, I do surprisingly little in my childs’ classrooms. Frankly, that’s where I’d rather be.

As a part of future planning with the PSO, I’ve been thinking about the trajectory of my career (or lack thereof). I’m not reading blogs as much as I used to, I’m not digging into aspects of craft, and I’m certainly not putting words on the page. I’ve had requests for fulls from agents and editors who judged the few contests I’ve won. And I have this book, Three Proposals, hanging around my neck like a pigeon (it’s not albatross-worthy, but it’s still annoying and I feel like I keep getting shit on).

My conclusion? It’s time for that to change.

I’ve started prioritizing writing into my life again. Hard to go cold turkey and clear my entire schedule for nothing but writing, but a key thing I’ve done is made a regular meeting time with my CPs and commit to giving them something of mine every week (in addition to reading their stuff) — even if it’s just work on my outline for the new contemporary story I started. It’s making me keep my head in my story (and in theirs).

I also started the James Patterson Master Class (I think regular commenter Penny had taken it and I was intrigued). The one thing James mentions in his first lesson is that he woke at 5 a.m. to make time for writing. He had a day job and I don’t, so I’m not waking at 5 a.m. (I’m really not a morning person, anyway). But I have started putting my foot down as to what I will and won’t work on each day.

For example, today was a story day. I did have a few “housekeeping” things to take care of after I got the kiddos off to school, but once that was accomplished, I spent the better part of the morning working on my outline, brainstorming over the phone with one of my CPs, and catching up on a few blogs. The amazing part? It felt so GOOD to get back into writing again.

My son asked me today why I quit taking tae kwon do lessons. I told him it was because I discovered writing and I liked writing more than I did TKD. What I’ve forgotten over the last 7 months was how MUCH I like writing. Discovering new stories, new characters, and new ways to make their lives difficult (but their stories interesting).

Touching back to Nancy’s post yesterday about joie d’ecriture, my goals for February are to keep providing feedback for my CPs, finish the course with James Patterson, and have a good, strong outline of my contemporary story completed.

How have you prioritized writing in your life lately?

9 thoughts on “Justine: Reconnecting with Writing

  1. Since January or so, I’ve been trying to cut down on the internet. That plan isn’t always working very well, but I do go for one or two days a week without getting on the internet at all. I’d like to up that to three or four days a week, maybe, but I have some commitments I need to wind up first.

    If I could wean myself, it would certainly free up a lot of time!

    • My boys don’t understand why I want them to stay off the computer/iPad. It IS an addiction! My husband can’t get in the car (in the passenger seat anyway) without flipping on his phone and seeing what’s going on. Drives me NUTS!

      Good luck with the computer. Perhaps set a timer or limit yourself to 3 links?

      • I’ve been thinking a lot about addiction for some reason lately. Nancy read that great book about cocaine and heroin addiction (An Anatomy of Addiction — about Freud and Halsted researching the new medicines and getting hooked; at one point, they thought heroin was a good way to cure cocaine addiction O.o). Then, well, David Bowie, and various retrospectives of his early years. I wondered last week if the next generation is going to have a serious drug problem? Will they get enough “hits” from video games and the internet that drugs will just seem too dangerous and messy? I think we’ll see a lot of problems from Screen Addiction, too, in the future — messing up relationships, work not getting done, etc.

        Someone like David Bowie had a huge amount of talent and ambition, though, and could still produce great works even when he was in a very altered state.

        I don’t know if I have enough ambition. I love the “easy” hits I get from commenting on stuff. I do know it’s easier to say no to turning on the internet router than it is to say no to the internet after three “little links” — at least for me.

        Yet here I am.

        And running through my brain right now is the earworm, “My mother said, ‘To get things done, you better not mess with Major Tom.'” Maybe I’ll just back away slowly from the computer now . . . .

  2. I cut my work week back from 40 hours to 28. Now I don’t go in until ten, giving me two or three hours to write in the mornings. It seems to be helping–or would be if I could get the damned plot to cooperate.

    Can’t wait to see some pages from your contemporary!

    • Good for you for getting the extra time to write, plot wrangles aside. If your plot is giving you fits, you should consider signing up for Story Structure Safari (it’s offered through Margie Lawson’s site). I did it in September and I’m using it to plot out my contemporary before writing it. IMMENSELY helpful! I used it for Tradwick and Catie’s story back in September and it helped me discover some really interesting things that I think will make the story pop.

  3. The internet. I spend all day on it at work and then… I believe it is the black hole of time, energy, and writing. Every class wants you in and online group and they want you to participate… Oooh excuse to be on FB…. Arghhhhh! I keep looking for excuses to not be on the internet and everytime I try to cut out fb crap another class wants you on there. I want to participate. I want to be a good community member, but it is sucking the life out of me and my writing….i don’t even get on there to post all the time, i originally got on there to stay connect to family & I have less than a 100 people on my account, but you get on and you can’t get off. It’s like some freaky addiction, and you keep staring until your eyes bleed. I found yesterday on FB that you can control your feed… You can “unfollow” people, but still be their friends & as FB tells you “they won’t know”. I “unfollowed” a ton of stuff yesterday, I think I’ll go back and cut it to the bare, family bones. I figure that lets me control when I get “group” info… I can still go look, myself. With a couple of classes I was suddenly being swamped by a continuous feed of messages… It was overwhelming. My twitter isn’t to bad & that’s easier to ignore… That leaves IG – i have a lot of puppy friends, and even winnowing those down leaves a lot. But puppies make you happy, so maybe I’ll have to keep it up, but find more ways to limit it.

    Justine… I need to get in and finish up the last Patterson lessons, but that is more “finishing” stuff and I wasn’t up to that point yet… So, back to work.

    • I can be exhausted…completely wiped…but if the computer is on, I suddenly have energy. Of course, that bites me in the butt later.

      You should have been there when we were in the McDaniel program! There were only a handful of us, but we’d write a TON every day! Some of the girls who worked all day would come home to hundreds of posts. Quite overwhelming.

      Please share how to turn off those FB feeds! I get updates from people I I’m not close to (and ironically, I don’t get updates from my besties), or updates from a neighborhood group I belong to. I don’t care if someone is selling six pairs of boys’ size 10 jeans. Forget the class-type stuff!

      I’ve been on the second lesson for a week now. My kid is having outpatient surgery today (really minor — he’s getting his ear tubes out), so I’m bringing my headphones to try and get through the rest of that lesson while he’s in there. I hope it works well on an iPhone!

      • Justine- top right on your page – go to the drop down (by the lock), scroll down to News Feed Preferences, and click on Unfollow People to Hide Their Posts. (You can see that you can “re-connect” with people here as well.) You go in and click on those you want to cull from your feed. Your “groups” are also in this list – so I iced my big feed hogs. I can go look at them from my groups list when I want to. I haven’t done it, but you will also see a button for “feed prioritization” too. Good luck. 😀

  4. Congratulations on getting back to writing more! That takes a big shift in priorities—not easy, I know, when so many things pull at you. One thing I wondered: couldn’t Three Proposals just be done? I see you’re excited about other stuff, so that can be a good direction to go in. And you describe Three Proposals as a weight. Sometimes, no matter how often we revisit a manuscript, it never lives up to its potential, and you just have to throw in the towel and accept it for the imperfect child that it is. A long time ago I read somewhere that writers never “finish” a book, they just type “The End.” Maybe you can help cement your new enthusiasm by moving on?

    But whatever you decide to do, it’s great to hear that you’re having fun with the writerly things you’re doing.

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