Good afternoon, writers. Today has been… well, a day. Nothing happened to make it “a day,” I’ve just been so supremely lazy. Mondays, right? Maybe the time change has me in a funk, maybe I’m just in a rut, but here I am, typing this up while on break at work, because I couldn’t drag myself to my laptop to write it earlier.
Ironically, the topic of today’s post is the five things I want to do less often, in terms of furthering (or in this case, not furthering) my writing career. We all have those demons, those habits that plague our days, keeping us from achieving our dreams. The first step, though, is identifying the problems, because only then can we know what there is to fight.
So, here are the demons I need to fight:
- Pressing Snooze. I could have had a full writing morning today. My boyfriend stayed the night, and since he’s a teacher and not a nightside digital reporter like me, he was up early getting ready. I got up with him, fed my pets, even walked him downstairs and kissed him goodbye. Then what? Well, I went back upstairs, walked right by my laptop on my desk, and fell back into bed. I set an alarm for thirty minutes, thinking I’d just grab a bit more time under the covers. Two hours later, I woke to streaming light and a million things to do that weren’t writing related. I’ve said time and time again that I have to make my own time to write, but that time is significantly cut short when I spend it asleep.
- Changing My Mind About Projects. This is a problem if I ever knew one. I started this year with one novel idea in mind. Two weeks later, I scrapped it in favor of a memoir. I decided against that a few days into drafting an outline. A mystery series sprung to mind, one I was really excited about, but, alas, that fell in favor of a story inspired by a recent week at work. That’s where I’m at now, and I’m 10,000 words into the first draft, wondering if I’m doing the right thing. But, as I’ve said before, that’s the devil talking, and right now it’s more important for me to finish SOMETHING, and assess its worth when I can look at it as a complete work.
- Writing By A Routine. Last year, I wrote about how I work best in coffee shops. However, lately I’ve fallen out of that. Whenever I’m sitting in the cafe with my laptop and drink and snack, I find myself spending more time staring into space and listening to the music and voices around me. I tried starting another routine, by which I’d write at my desk and light candles and eat a piece of chocolate every 200 words. But that fizzled out too, and I’m realizing that maybe it’s me. I’ve never been a “routine” type of person. I’ve only recently started using planners and schedules, and that’s helpful, but I don’t seem to like having to rely on a structure. I can’t say, “Well, I can’t write today because I don’t have time to go to Starbucks” or “I can’t write because my desk is a mess.” Sometimes I just need to grab an hour of writing whenever I can. Like now, in the conference room at a news station before I have to get back to work.
- Checking My Phone. I’m really struggling with this one right now, to be honest, because I hear my phone buzzing a few inches away from me, but I am REFUSING to answer it until I finish this post. This one is difficult to follow, because I might reach a thousand words and decide I deserve a break, but then I fall down the rabbit hole of Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. Before I know it, half an hour has passed, and I’m hungry, and I’ve wasted time fooling around when I could have knocked out another thousand words before lunch. I’m afraid to leave my phone in another room (because what if someone REALLY needs to reach me??) but I do have a smart watch now, so that’s been a good tool to avoid getting on social media, but still answer texts and calls as they come in. Still, any time I get a Snapchat I run back over to that phone to check it, and somehow it makes its way back in my pocket…
- Overthinking. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stopped in the middle of writing, confused, because I’m writing about something I don’t know anything about. That leads to Google searching, pages of notes, and hours lost. That’s all well and good, but since I’m writing a first draft, it kills time that could be spent progressing the story. It doesn’t matter, in my opinion, if there are some blank spots in a first draft. Those can be filled in later. What needs to be filled in in that first draft is the story. Characters. Setting. Plot. Not whether our first memories are remembered at three or four. I hate the research stage of writing, so I’ve found myself doing less of it in preparation for a book, but I can’t supplement that time by interrupting the first draft. Honestly, it can wait.
I’ve done two of these things today and two others in the last week, and really I’m just out of control. But instead of giving in to these five pitfalls, I am going to try harder to resist and beat the bad habits, making my writing life flourish the way I know it can.
On Wednesday, I’ll talk about the five things I want to do MORE often, which will be a decidedly more cheery post 🙂