Blog,  Useful Tips,  Writing Progress

Keeping my writing alive, even though I’m busy!

*collapses* SO! I didn’t expect our kitten Moss to have surgery last week. He seems to be recovering fine, but he requires a lot of watching at the moment. I worked my cashier shifts pretty much all last week too. And on top of that–and driving all over the place–there’s stuff to do around the house. Multiply that by procrastination and trying to regain my sanity after long, full days…

…Yeah. That little editing progress counter in the sidebar hasn’t moved in a while.

This is a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a few years, back when I had a full time job. And I’m still not sure how to go about it, to be honest. If I hadn’t just made an editing schedule with my friend Y.I. Washington on Monday, I might be postponing this entry yet again!

I’m gonna be honest, maintaining my writing projects when I’m busy, or even when I’m not busy, has always been a challenge. No matter if I have a little or a lot of time, I need to make up my mind–often the day before–that I’m going to write, then cut out all distractions, and just work.

It’s not easy. It’s hard to get into a writing groove and stay there. So here’s how I’m going to try to do it! And I’m going to write it using the instructional “you” to make it more applicable to people other than myself. Okay, let’s go!

One of my favorite motivational writing graphics.
One of my favorite motivational writing graphics.

1. Stay inspired.

This is the easiest part. You just have to live your life with a mind open for ideas. I like to call it “gathering nuts.” Do things you already love, read and watch new things in your genre or areas of interest. Go to a museum, learn a new skill. Stop to smell the metaphorical roses, and just take in everything around you. If you find yourself thinking, “Hey, that’s a cool idea. I could use that somewhere,” then write it down! No idea is a bad one at this stage!

2. Make a game plan with deadlines.

As for the projects you’re currently working on, or you know you want to start writing, make a list of what you need to get done, and in what time frame you want to get it done. There’s nothing more helpful to urge me along than setting a due date. This also applies to blogging and vlogging.

Doing NaNoWriMo is a great way to add structure to your writing, especially if you’re trying to knock out a first draft. You start Nov. 1, and if you keep up the 1667 word minimum every day, you know you’ll have a 50,000+ word novel Dec. 1! It will need editing, but that’s another thing to schedule.

My friend Y.I. Washington helped me set my newest editing goals, and though I don’t have a due date for them yet, but I posting them here to keep me accountable. Here’s the plan:

  1. Update my novel with a new plot thread I’m starting in the beginning, and make sure it reflects throughout the story
  2. Give everything a thorough read-through and make notes on what I need to fix. She suggested printing it out, numbering mistakes and writing more details in a corresponding notebook. I’ll be paying particular attention to run-on sentences and passive voice, as well as constructing my sentences to start with the cause and end with the effect, as I tend to do that backwards.
  3. Once I go back and make corrections, I’ll leave it alone for a few weeks.
  4. After that, she suggested I run it through with a free trial, and make the changes they recommend.
  5. Next, I find 3 beta readers who can take the time to thoroughly read my book and tell me what they like and don’t like, and give me comprehensive notes.
  6. Once I’m done with their corrections, I should fork over the money for a professional editor.
  7. Presumably I can start pitching again with newfound vigor and confidence.

*gulp* I’m not sure how long that will take, but it’s a lot of work I’m both looking forward to and kinda dreading. Which leads to the next step…

3. Stick to it.

This is probably the hardest part. I could put off everything I mentioned above until the end of time, so I need to hold myself to my goals. And pray for motivation, because most days I’d rather lay on the couch, watch Youtube and crochet.

But incentives help. Reward yourself for reaching different goals, or even parts of a goal. This year I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again, and they’re very good with incentives. I could buy myself a t-shirt or a mug from their site if I win, and they give coupons and discounts on editing software and other awesome writery things to winners, and even participants! (Which is how I was able to buy Scrivener!) Besides, just having a finished rough draft of a novel is a great reward! Even if you don’t want to do NaNo, I’m sure you can think of a way to reward yourself every time you work on your book, especially if it’s hard. But stick with it.

That’s it. It’s simple, but worth enforcing.

*covers face* God preserve us poor writers, for we have so much work to do and only half a brain to do it with. Motivate us and fill our minds with creative fire, so we can successfully finish what we’ve started. I, for one, feel so humbled and in need of your help. I’m so glad you’re better at handling this than I’ll ever be, and that you want to help this tired, hot mess succeed. Thank you, thank you, thank you. <3

And so, go forth and make goals and stick to them, my friends! I wish all of you the best of luck fighting off the invasion of the insidious Procrasti-Nation!

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