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Once upon a time, there was an author who (mistakenly) thought she’d have an abundance of chunks of creative time this summer to spend toward massive word counts. That ideas would fly and chapters would add up as her fingers danced over the keyboard for hours on end.
Reality? Plenty of other responsibilities and time demands still exist during the summer. And they are compounded with multiple distractions as family and kids are constantly in, out, and around the house. Not to mention a few of them would like Mom to take them to the pool or out for ice cream or want to watch a movie together. Rather than romp and skip toward the finish line of my current manuscript, I’m finding myself stuck in a slow, plodding pace at best. Hmm. That reminds me of a tale about the tortoise and the hare who set out to race. And turtle power won.
Over the past few weeks and through several podcasts that I listen to, I’ve been reminded over and over that writers write. That they dedicate time to get down at least 500 words a day. That they exercise and use their creative muscles regularly. That slow and steady habits are more successful for the long haul career than waiting for the muse to strike in a creative sprint. (And I’ll admit to more than a good share of guilt over my lack of writing dedication and an increasing sense that something has to change…now!)
So, here’s to turtle power and a more disciplined approach. I used to try to clear up (or at least put a visible dent in) several tasks from my long list of family/business/day job to-dos before sitting down to write guilt-free. But inevitably I’d find my energy drained and the window of available time whittled away to nothing, so I’d put the writing goal off until tomorrow and a “better” time. But now, I’m resolved to put first things first. To get the writing goal done first … then play catch-up on the rest of life later, because most of those tasks take less mental energy.
I’ve got four weeks until I want the current work-in-progress’s first draft done. Thanks to my lack of progress so far this summer (Ugh!), that leaves about half a chapter to write per day. My plan is to go to bed on time, dream the next scene, get up early, and get those words down fast. I might even find that the story calls me back during the rest of the day and soon I’ll have that finish line in sight. Then, hopefully, I’ll also have a new habit in place where I can continue to daily exercise that creativity muscle with at least 500 words on something new.
Here’s to turtle power saving the day and getting my writing deadline back on track.
What about you? Do you have a big task you’ve been putting off for a day when you have more time? Could you tackle it in smaller chunks? How do you put the first things first?