*deep calming breath* Really, I feel like I’m treading through molasses and not getting anywhere … fast! I know I’m not any different than every other writer out there trying to balance their real life with the world their building in their books. But sometimes life stuff just tumbles on top of itself and I get rolled up in the whole big mess.
I’ve not hidden the fact that the last 5 1/2 years have been a total clusterf**k for Mr. Nina and I. We moved from northern Maine where’d been living for over 20 years … which I was quite happy to do … to Rhode Island when Mr. Nina lost his job in hospital administration. Little did we realize what a rollercoaster we’d climbed up on! Well, 4 moves and 6 jobs later–we’re still trying to find our footing. Writing has taken a backseat to all of the turmoil. But even when I do have the mindset to sit down and start pounding out words, there seems to be other pressing issues.
I’m talking time management. This is as much for me as it is for those of you out in cyberland thinking you’ll never have time to finish that novel or short story you’ve promised yourself you’ll get to.
Oh, I know how it happens. You finally decide this is it … I’m going to do it! I’m going to take that wonderful idea and turn it into a book someone will drool over and publish. You get out your shiny new pens and dust off that legal pad (because ideas come at all different times), set your alarm for some time in the middle of the night so you can get an hour or so in before work. You jump out of bed excited to do this. You sit down at the computer and the words just flow! To hell with the laundry, the kids have clean underwear, the freezer and fridge are stocked and you dusted last week … all is good.
You plow through several scenes and drag yourself away to get the kids off to school and make it to work before you’re considered obnoxiously late. DH is so proud of you that he offers to bring home take out and let you keep plugging away after dinner. After all, his wife is going to be the next Nola Robbin … or whoever the heck that famous author is. He even shushes the kids and does the bedtime rituals. All the while your muse is frolicking in the land of fantasy and your fingers are on fire! You hate to shut down when the words are coming so you stay up too late, but it’s not a problem. Five hours of sleep is plenty. You’re a budding NY Times Best Seller.
The alarm goes off, it’s dark and cold and … you can get your writing in at your lunch break. Besides, your heroine stormed off in the last chapter and the hero really didn’t give a flying monkey’s butt anyway and how the heck will you get them talking again? So you roll over to think about it some more and promise to work it out tonight at the latest when the kid’s are in bed.
The day flies by and you squeak out a few minutes writing, hiding in the back corner of the supply closet because you haven’t told your co-workers that strangers talk to you in the middle of the night and beg you to tell the world their story and give them that happy-ever-after they’ve been craving. (Oh, I digress.) But you manage to get the hero and heroine back in the same room even if they are ignoring each other.
When you get home, the solution to the heroine’s dilema has worked itself out and you’re ready to go … but your youngest throws up at the dinner table. DH turns green (because he doesn’t do puke) and you spend the night taking temps and comforting the little one. So much for writing … but there’s always tomorrow.
The next morning DH groans when the alarm goes off, mumbling something about clean shirts and you drag yourself to laundry room sputtering about his inability to work the appliances, throw a load of laundry in while the computer is booting up. When you sit down your muse laughs at you, says something about a vacation and skips off to Bora-Bora to have some play time with a cabana boy. The cursor blinks and taunts you, but you manage to squeak out some words before the kids drag down the stairs for breakfast … oh, and did you forget there’s a band concert tonight?
By the time you’re a month down the road, that novel is looking pretty intimidating. Your muse checks in every once in awhile, but most of what you’ve written looks like drivel penned by a high schooler. The laundry now fills several hampers and a corner of your son’s room, there’s no milk left, so you eat your granola crumbs dry, and the dust bunnies have morphed into small woodland creatures. Your confidence wanes. DH thinks your new little adventure is cutting into his “me” time and did you happen to get the email he sent about the dinner with his brother and his new fiance?
It seems between your diminishing enthusiasm, your muse’s temper tantrums and the lack of support of those around you, that the shiny new idea that looked so beautiful and ready to tour New York last month has now tarnished into an ugly brass trinket not fit for a garage sale.
You’re not alone.
Writing is a difficult journey. It’s so easy to let things just slow us down or block us completely. The secret is to set manageable goals that won’t trip you up. Instead of stating your goal in one huge lump … like you’ll finish your novel before the kids get out school in June. Try breaking it down in smaller chunks. Like … I’m going to write 1000 words a week. Or even smaller with … I’m going to write 100 words a day. Then stick to it.
I’m writing all of this down now because *cough* *cough* I’m working to get back to basics myself and remind myself–it’s the habit of writing every day that successful authors develop.
Now here we are into the second week of January and I have yet to take my own advice. I’ve let everything else come before my word count. Christmas decorations not packed? Let me get on that. Vacuuming needs to be done? Well, just a couple of minutes won’t hurt. The trash? STOP! It can go on and on. Just do it Nina! Just open that book you started and begin typing. 100 words. Baby steps. There will always be things in my way. The trick is to step over them. I’ve decided not to let anything get in my way this week. Around everything else, I will make my goal.
It’s baby-steps that get a book written. 100 words in a paragraph, paragraphs adding up to pages, pages to chapters and chapters to a complete manuscript. Then voila … you’re sending a finished story to an editor!
Don’t make your goal so huge that you choke on it and give up. Take it in small, manageable bites that won’t give you indigestion. Remember, slow and steady wins the race every time! (Did I stick enough cliches in there?)