Welcome back. If you are reading this blog, it means that you and I are probably in similar places in our journeys as writers – that is, the starting line. Like me, you probably place your in-progress project or your notebook of ideas on one side of the scale, and your job and family obligations and want to shake your head and stick that notebook on the shelf until your life changes. I know that I have spent many years dabbling in different creative hobbies, waiting for the next big event or transition when I’ll surely have more time than I do now.
Friend, we both have to stop it.
I think we both know that the period of calmness and perfect flexibility never comes. The time to make a change is now.
In January of 2018, I had The Idea. I was struck hard with a concept for a novel that I was excited about. I filled up half a standard school notebook with timelines, notes, and characters. I hammered out the first act, approximately 30K words, in about four months. Then, The Event happened. We bought our first home. From shopping, to closing, to moving in, to a myriad of home-improvement projects that ate up most of our time for six months. I don’t regret any of that. It was a joyous time, and I understandably devoted less time to The Novel.
I do regret that I continued to make very little progress in 2019, with no real excuse. The Idea that I was so excited about sat unexplored, stalled out in the middle of the road.
Through intentional effort, I picked the book up again in January of 2020. It was very difficult to get back into the habit of writing. I resisted the urge to re-read the entire thing repeatedly. I kept the review to a quick once-over. The story structure probably suffered for that decision, and I know a lot of editing is in my future, but personally, it felt more important to make progress than to have everything perfect from the start.
Perfection can be the enemy of progress, if D.i.s.c. type C’s like myself (sorry, my corporate culture is showing) allow it’s pursuit to paralyze our forward momentum.
Even so, I can look back at my history of backups and see a roller-coaster pattern to my writing times when I try to fit it in whenever I have time and I feel like it. Schedules vary. Feelings wane and wax. For five days running as of this writing, I have set my alarm for the unconscionable hour of 5am to make time for The Novel itself and for this blog. I know. Simple, right? Most observations or advice sound simple when you see them on paper, but I don’t want to gloss over the hidden steps behind this change:
- Find your motivation
- Make a plan. Literally write it down
- Identify actions to take based on that plan
- Follow through on your commitment to yourself
Next week, we’ll talk about that first point, finding positive motivation.
What challenges have you overcome finding time to write or pursue other artistic passions? If you have ever needed to restart a project, how did you handle that transition? Let us know in the comments.