Day 4 – The writing continues, but no routine

Day 4 of My 365 Day Writing Project

Time: 1 hr 15 min

Words: 1,350

I’m feeling good about the writing I’m doing, which at 1,000-2,000 words per day isn’t all that much. But for me, someone with a full-time job and a family, it is pretty damn good. Believe me, if I could quit my job and write for a living, spending my entire day in creative story-telling mode, I’d do it. In a heartbeat. But I’m neither delusional nor a romantic. I don’t envision myself sitting on a balcony over the canals, sipping cappuccino and listening to Bach concertos while I work on the manuscript of a future classic novel. I have bills to pay and a family to support. Most importantly, I have three little ones who need their mama. Writing doesn’t come first. But it is a priority for me, and I’m trying to ensure that it has a consistent place in my daily life.

The main goal for me is simple: to write. I intentionally have not set any parameters or saddled myself with any requirements for this project. To do so would invite immediate failure. No minimums, no set number of words or hours in a day. Just write. If that means 5 minutes and two sentences, I’ve succeeded in my goal. If that means eight hours or 8,000 words, I’m golden.

My ultimate hope is to make writing a part of my daily routine so I don’t have to think about it or “make” time. I’m just not sure how that is going to happen. So far when I make time to write it has been during inconsistent times of the day. Today, like yesterday, I stole a few minutes here and there. I had one stretch of about 40 minutes and the rest was sporadic, interrupted, short spans of time. I don’t especially care for this method. Luckily, I am finding that I am still productive and my creativity is not hindered too much. That’s surprising to me. But it makes me wonder how much I could accomplish if I had a couple of hours of uninterrupted writing time each day. It’s ambitious to think it is possible, knowing what an average day is like for me. But maybe…

I know that many writers use the early morning as their time for uninterrupted writing. This strikes me as a real go-getter method because I’m not exactly a morning person. Maybe I would be if the only thing I need to do when I wake is write. This means getting up very early before the kids. Difficult, but not impossible. Night can be a good time because I enjoy staying up late after everyone is nestled in their beds. Unfortunately, I sometimes find that I’m just too exhausted to stay up late. Like last night when I was falling asleep at my computer.

Expecting a daily routine at this early stage in my 365 Day Writing Project is not realistic. I know that. What I’m wondering is whether I’ll ever fall into a consistent routine, and if so, when and how is it going to happen when my daily life is already packed full?

I’m curious to know what other writers with day jobs and/or families do. When do you find the time to write? When do you feel the most fresh and productive? Do you designate the same time every day, or does it change day to day? How much time do you set aside for yourself? And lastly, is there hope for me to get into a consistent daily routine?

C’mon fellow writers…please tell me there is hope and do share any tips you may have. Thank you kindly.

 

Day 3 of My 365 Day Writing Project

Day three.

Words: 1,750

Time: 1.5 hrs

I’m happy to report that I was able to pick up where I left off.

While I was writing last night I anticipated going in a certain direction with a particular chapter. I stopped in the middle of a pretty intense part because I needed to get to bed at a decent hour. Today, I picked up where I left off and ended up going in a different direction that would not have happened had I kept writing last night. I think the story is better for it, so I don’t regret the decision to quit when I did. This could be an interesting lesson in the importance of letting a story evolve organically. At least that is how I’m choosing to look at it.

As for today, I found sporadic moments of time to write. A little here, a little there and finally a last chunk tonight. The bummer about my writing time tonight was that I was so tired I kept falling asleep with my hands on the keyboard. I’ll be damned if I didn’t type a few sentences in a dream-like state. I read them after I awoke and found them to be utter nonsense. And hilarious. It reminded me of taking notes in class when I was in high school, falling asleep during a history lecture and finding in my notes later that I wrote that a certain Civil War battle started because, “people like to look nice in magazines.” Classic.

Despite breaking up my writing time throughout the day, it was still productive to chip away little bits at a time. I’m looking forward to tomorrow but for now, off to bed. And no more writing in my sleep.

Day 2 of My 365 Day Writing Project

Day two.

Time: 2 1/2  hours

Words: approximately 1,400

It feels good to get words on the page, even if it is late and I just want to go to bed. I feel like I could keep writing but I need to get to sleep if I am going to make it through my busy day tomorrow. So, I stopped. I had to. I stopped right in the middle of a fairly intense part that I didn’t know was going to happen when it did. The story went there, I went with it for a glorious couple of hours, but then I stopped before I could finish. I hope I don’t regret it when I try to pick up where I left off tomorrow. Is this where the discipline part comes in?

Today was an interesting day in which to find time for writing. I did steal about 30 minutes while on a break at work, which was disjointed but still productive. I took the kids to a volunteer event after dinner tonight, so by the time my husband and I got them to bed and I sat down to write, it was approaching 10:00 pm. This is not ideal for a working mom. Getting up early to get the kids to soccer camp and daycare in the morning, as well as taking on a busy day at the office sounds nightmarish at the moment. I’m so tired and wired right now. I probably won’t be able to fall asleep until close to 1:00 am.

At some point I will think about whether morning sessions will work better, but for now, I’ll let my day unfold and steal time as I find it. If that means it isn’t until the day is done and I have to stay up late, so be it. If I must cut myself off while “in the zone,” even mid-sentence, to make sure I get a decent night’s sleep, so be it. It is all about maintaining a balance in all facets of my life, while still finding time to write. Every day.

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if I was able to pick up where I left off. Fingers crossed.

Day 1 of My 365 Day Writing Project

Day one.

Time: 110 minutes

Words: approx. 1,000 plus a bunch of editing

The first day is supposed to be the easiest, right? Or maybe it’s the hardest. I’ll just say that it doesn’t matter. I DID IT. I woke up this morning without a plan of when or how long I was going to write today. All I knew was that I was going to write. And I did. I didn’t jam out thousands of words and I didn’t spend hours and hours, but I did write enough to feel pretty damn good about it. Yay, me!

I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, either. My day was busy from the moment I got up this morning and finding a time to write during the day was impossible. As the day wore on I knew my options were dwindling and it was looking like I wasn’t going to get time to myself to write until after the kids went to bed. Which is exactly what happened. With my husband on bedtime duty with our two year-old and me on duty with the eight and six year-olds, I didn’t get to sit down at my computer until 8:45pm. That didn’t seem too bad, actually. But I did get interrupted a few times (kids giggling in their rooms when they were supposed to be asleep, husband coming in to talk to me, a delectable honey/chocolate-dipped macaroon calling me from the kitchen, etc.)

Luckily, the time in-between these distractions was enough to allow me to get lost for a while. And that is the whole purpose. To get lost in the story I am writing. And I did.

I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

My 365 Day Writing Project

To begin with, you need to write. This seems axiomatic because it is. The only way to amass a pile of words into a book is to shovel some every single day. No days off. You have to form this habit; without it you are screwed. I’m going to assume everyone who keeps reading already has this down. If you don’t — you won’t make it. My best advice on how to form this habit is twofold: Get comfortable staring at a blank screen and not writing. This is a skill. If you can not write and avoid filling that time with distractions, you’ll get to the point where you start writing. Open your manuscript and just be with it.

–  Hugh Howey

It is time for me to have some accountability. I am taking on a 365 day writing project for two distinct reasons: 1) my own happiness; and 2) to accomplish my life-goal of writing and publishing at least one novel.

One of my biggest downfalls as an aspiring writer is finding, or rather, making, time to write. And I’m not just talking about sitting down at my computer and getting words out. I mean pure, self-consumed, mind-blowing creative flow sticking to the page. I used to tell myself that inspiration will find me; it can’t be forced. Because sometimes it does find me, unabashedly. So I wait. And wait. Until something eventually strikes me – inspiration! – and I feel so compelled to write I just have to sit down and do it. Those moments are bliss. But they are too few and far between.

Passively driving this creative roller coaster gets me nowhere, and quite simply, makes me moody. I am a happier, lighter person after I have spilled my guts into words. Writing, for me, is essential for happiness. Which is why I decided to embark on this project.

I started studying how other successful writers have managed, manipulated and even forced their own creativity into a steady discipline. The common thread in many writers’ creative process is to write daily.  Hugh Howey is right. If I don’t form the habit of writing every day, I am screwed. I must make writing a part of my daily routine, as simple as taking time every day to brush my teeth, no matter what. No days off. Every. Single. Day.

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure I can do this. Regardless of my need to write, first I am a mother of three. I’m also a wife and a full-time working lawyer. My everyday life is demanding on many levels. But for my own happiness and the pursuit of fulfilling my goal, I have to try.

I will be blogging my journey for the next 365 days. I may not check in every day but when I do I will be sure to report whether I have continued to write every day and what that has done, or not done, for me. Hopefully I will have good things to report about my writing, and above all, my happiness because of it.

 

Breakthrough

I enjoy writing but I am terribly critical of my own work. I often read something I wrote months or years before and think, “meh” or “total crap.” I will edit and edit again and edit some more and still feel like I haven’t gotten it right. My over-critical reading and editing process distracts me from the content, which can leave me convinced that I will never accomplish writing a story worth reading.

For the first time ever, I read a chapter I wrote several months ago and got lost in the story as I read it. I enjoyed it, like I do when I read a good book written by someone else. And when I came to the end of the chapter, I wanted to turn the page and keep reading. Then I remembered, “Hey, I wrote this.” I didn’t feel like I wanted to edit it. I didn’t feel like it was total crap. For the first time ever, I wasn’t distracted by my own writing. I was involved in the characters and the plot and had no awareness of the words, sentence structure and flow. I wanted to read more. For the first time ever, I felt like I was the author of a story worth reading.

Breakthrough.