Friday, May 8, 2009

Blocks of Time

Here's a typical day in my life:

8:00 AM: "I am so excited to have four entire hours today to work on my novel. I plan on working on it from 11 to 3. Yippee!"

11:00 AM: "I just have to finish this article and then I'll work on my novel. I'll still get three hours in."

12:00 noon: "Ugh. This article is taking me longer than I thought and I am starving. I'll finish this, eat lunch, throw in a load of laundry and work on my novel from 1 to 3. I can still get a thousand words or so written in two hours."

1:00: "Oh, I really want to take care of these emails a minute. There are only five I need to respond to. It shouldn't take me long."

2:00: (Whining) "Now I only have one hour. Why even bother working on my novel at all? By the time I get started, it will be time to go pick up my kids from school. Might as well clean the bathroom instead. And go eat chocolate."

Sound familiar? Please say yes.

On my First Things First blog post, Dave Wagner left a comment that perfectly described me. That feeling of needing to dive in for big chunks of time to accomplish anything. Maybe it's that I don't want to invest the energy I know it will take for only a piddly amount of progress. Maybe it's that I feel like I have to focus on projects that might make me some immediate money (like articles and freelance work). Maybe it's simply that I don't have a clear direction of where my novel is going so I'm not all that excited to get to work on it. Or maybe it's that I know I need to do a ton of editing and I'm not in "editing mode", I'm in "creative mode."

Whatever the reason, I've come to a shocking realization: My novel WILL NOT get done if I don't work on it.

Told you it was shocking.

There's that big D word again - DISCIPLINE. Of which I seem to have none. Yes, I did finish one novel but it took me for-ever to do it. If I hope to land a contract, I can't continue at this turle-pace. It just aint gonna cut it.

So...I need to take on the mindset that I do not need big blocks of time to write. And that every 500 words I add to my story puts me that much closer to the end.

Here's a question for you. What do you do to make progress on your novel? Do you have a schedule? How do you balance your life or your "other" work with finishing your novel? Are you disciplined?

Here's your chance to kick me in the pants and offer your wise and enlightening advice on how you manage your blocks of time, whether large or small.

Speaking of blocks, I did manage to enter my poem, "Oh, the Blockage", an ode to writer's block, in Chip MacGregor's annual Bad Poetry Contest. Last year, I took the Worst Image Award for my entry, Snot Bubbles and Tears. This year, I doubt I'll take home anything but it was fun to enter anyway. And yet another thing to take me away from my novel (insert eye roll here).

Anyway, leave me your advice on scheduling and managing time to write. I desperately need it!


Karen said...

Your are sooooo me! I can't wait to see how others tackle this. I have taken a few things off of my plate (I'm learning to be a "no" person... occasionally)which has helped, but not cured this problem.

Pamela Cade said...

I'm in the same boat as you are. The reason I haven't written much lately, is because I don't know what to write. I'm thinking about getting the storyweaver software. Maybe that will help me? I love to write... when I know what to write.
Love your posts, Lynda.

sherrinda said...

Oh my goodness! You described me perfectly! I mean, seriously! I have been thinking alot about my quest for long stretches of time to write and how it is destroying my progress. I need to just grab the 1/2 hour...the hour...and write!!! Little by little we can get it done.

Joanne Sher said...

Lyn - pretty sure I've shared with you before, but when I was working on my draft, I COMMITTED myself to writing 325 words minimum a day. (That comes to approximately 10k a month most months, by the way) If I was motivated and had time, I'd write more, but ALWAYS 325. I always did it as the FIRST THING I did when I turned on my computer after I put the kids down. NO email. No blogs. NO internet. NO nothing! First thing I did was open my document. And it worked--for me, anyway!

Pamela Cade said...

I like what Joanne said. Those words do add up. Good pointer :)

Dara said...

You and I are in the same boat, sister.

I try to get something written every day, but most of the time that doesn't happen...if I'm lucky I'll get 500-1000 done and that's maybe once a week--twice if it's been a good week.

The only way I've been able to consistently write is having a looming deadline; self-imposed ones do not work. For example, during NaNo I'm able to crank out the words every day because of the goal at the end of the month.

I'm also able to write when I know a chapter of mine is up for critique in my group (although even then I end up waiting until the last minute...).

I don't know what advice to give really since I'm struggling with the same thing. I just need someone to impose a deadline on me for some reason; that seems to be the only way I thrive and write on a consistent basis.