Support and Routine

Do you have tough writing days? Maybe the page blankly stares back at you, or you’re just not in the mood and don’t try? I certainly have those days. My friend Jessica does not have many. Here’s what I have learned from her: She maintains a schedule amidst family distractions. She starts her day reading responses to her blogs and twitter accounts. Then she answers and writes new ones for that day. She has more than one project in the works, even if the second one is not a priority. She says that writing first thing in the morning “primes the pump,“ so to speak. I resist the scheduling and know it would be the best habit to make. Okay, so what’s the matter, missy?

A couple of years ago I wrote during the NaNoWriMo and did discipline myself to write 1600 words daily. If I had a day planned that didn’t allow for writing for one reason or another, I wrote more words prior to that date. Truly, not every page was a keeper, but just writing consistently produced my muse. When I reread those pages, I am surprised how my voice emerged. Why am I resisting now?

I finished a researched true story of my grandmother’s courage during the 1918 Cloquet-Moose Lake fire in northeastern Minnesota. After discovering that most of my cousins and their children had never heard about how she had saved herself and 3 young daughters, I was compelled to write and share it with family. The research slowed me down, but after finding a wonderful resource, I was on my way. The narrative nonfiction was mailed on Monday. Hurray, now back to overcoming resistance.

My project of several years is a novel based on a true story. (Don’t ask me the difference between that and narrative nonfiction. Since the agents I met at a conference last August disagreed in equal proportion, I’m not going there. I don’t know.) But what slowed me down has been the myriad searches about WWII, Lipizzan horses, the countryside of Hungary, and Hungary’s history. Blah Blah Blah. I have most of what I need to go on. My husband and I visited Hungary last spring. But I write inconsistently and not as a job or passion. The “stuck” days are about the things Jessica does that I am NOT doing.

I will be more successful if I adopt her habits. But the biggest gift Jessica has taught me is that she will be there for me. Not only is she modeling good practice, but she props me up when I am down and encourages me at every turn. After reading something I have written and shared with her, she applauds as well as critiques. I hope you have someone like her to aid your journey.

I would love to hear about your process.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Sandi

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10 thoughts on “Support and Routine

  1. It is good to see you have a good friend to provide support and necessary critique to keep you headed in the right direction. I look forward to reading more!

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  2. For me, learning to say no helped a lot. Even when I had to say no to things I wanted to do, like go sea kayaking, I figured out if I wanted to write a novel, I had to carve out time. Also, telling my friends I was serious about writing helped them understand why I was saying no to some really fun things.

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    1. OH, so true. I am missing some Zumba classes, inland kayaking and coffee dates, but “No” shows others I am serious (which they probably doubt occasionally.) Kristina, good for you! Don’t hesitate to blast encouragement, HA, when you have time.

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  3. You know I’m in the same boat as Jessica, I have kids and sometimes writing is nearly impossible. But lately I’ve been on a writing binge (except yesterday due to some emotional drama) but for the past 2 weeks I’ve written 1000 words a day! I think making writing a habit, sometimes I do flash fiction or blog and I count those as writing. They say 30 days makes something a habit, so maybe if you force yourself you’ll eventually be unable to function without it. 🙂 Good luck!

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  4. Ah, yes. As writers, we’re also really creative at procrastination and avoidance. I dislike schedules and time slots, so I trick myself by setting deadlines. It works — sometimes. I think it’s great that you have someone to keep you accountable. I’m going to put that on my wish list.

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  5. I am much like you … I can write every day when it comes to social media and blogging and promoting other authors, but my own creative writing sits on the back burner. I’ve always been like this – the Queen of Procrastination! What has helped me over the years though is entering contests (NaNoWrimo 3 times; 3-Day Novel 3 times; numerous short story contests), taking writing courses and workshops, and writing a story to a deadline for a specific anthology. Without really realizing that I’d written them I now have all kinds of manuscripts to work with. The hard part I’ve found is buckling down to the rewriting and editing of those manuscripts. I’m still finding excuses not to get back to work on Chapter 9 of my next novel. I do however have a cover designed for it already, so I comfort myself knowing that I’m moving somewhat in the right direction. It is frustrating not to have that discipline of sitting down every day with the sole purpose of pounding out the words. And frustrating for my champion who is losing patience with all my constant excuses.

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