I know I’ve been quiet lately. At least blog quiet. I’ve taken a long break from the submission process for Cheater, but plan to start up again this month. And the most important thing is this: I have been writing. A lot. I’ve found a great rhythm and balance between working part time and writing part time, and have been happily delving into a YA novel I wrote as a 13 year old. It needs a lot of work – but the bones are good. It’s been fun (yet angst inducing) to return to the teenage world. Mostly fun. And I have to say, I love the voice I’ve found, and it is so easy, scarily easy, to slip into my inner teenager. This character is flowing over with potential, and I can see myself writing many, many stories with her. Changing my focus from searching for an agent back to craft has been rejuvenating. Just what I needed to do some revising on Cheater and jump back into the toil of the querying process!
Quiet but Working September 3, 2009
My Writing Schedule March 30, 2009
For my “real” job, I’m a physical therapist. I work part time at the clinic, which I realize is incredibly lucky. So, on my days off from physical therapy, I write, with every intention of making this time worth it.
Here’s the writing schedule I aspire to:
5:45 The alarm goes off. I bounce out of bed, well-rested and eager to begin a brand new day.
6:00 I’m in the “gym” we’ve set up in our garage, where I get a killer work out.
7:00 I shower and get ready for the day, just as I would if I were going to work. I fix my hair, put on makeup, and wear shoes. This is a great psychological method for improving motivation and productivity.
7:45 I eat breakfast and get caught up on the major news, because it’s important to be a good, well informed citizen of the world.
8:15 I meditate to quiet my mind and allow calm and positive thoughts to center me.
8:30 I arrive at my desk and do a writing warm up exercise.
9:00 I work with enthusiasm and energy on my current project.
12:30 I suddenly realize I’m a bit hungry. I’ve been so absorbed in my writing that I don’t even realize it’s lunch time. Lunch is a random assortment of tasteless and uninspired fuel, but that’s okay, because my mind is lost in the world I’ve created, and words are flowing quicker than I can get them all down.
12:37 I’m back to writing.
2:00 I take a walk at this time to stretch my legs and neck, get some fresh air and sun, and give my mind a bit of time to ponder some things. I take a 1 ½ mile loop around our neighborhood, admiring the brightly colored flowers, enjoying the scent of orange blossoms, and feeling a general satisfaction with the writer I am becoming.
2:30 I’m back to writing. I might check some of my favorite industry blogs, or check in with Absolute Write. But mostly, I just write inspired stories of beauty and depth.
6:00 I’ve had a wonderful day and am satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. I pour myself a glass of wine and begin to make dinner. I have a relaxing evening with my husband.
Here’s what a typical day looks like lately:
5:45 The alarm goes off. I reach over to hit the snooze button, and in doing so, knock my watch onto the ground. It breaks. I hit snooze for an hour or so.
7:00 I finally drag myself out of bed and put on my work out clothes. On the way to the garage, I stop in the office to get my laptop so I can watch The Daily Show while I’m on the elliptical. As I sign on, I see that I have email, and realize that another minute cannot go by without me checking to see who has written to me and why. I check my messages. Some of them are notifications from Facebook, so I go to Facebook and end up reading everyone’s updates, seeing who has thrown what animal at me, taking a test to find out what mythical creature I am. Eventually I find myself looking at pictures of people I don’t even know. It’s 8:30.
8:30 I do my workout while watching the Daily Show. When that’s over, I surf the internet between biceps curls and squats.
9:30 I’m frakking starving, so I sit down to eat and read the paper. I get annoyed with the news and turn to Dear Abby and Ask Carolyn. I become saddened by the state of our world. I read Dilbert and get a little laugh. Then I pull out a novel to read while I finish my cereal.
10:15 The morning is half way over and I’ve accomplished nothing. I berate myself and rush to the shower.
10:45 I slip into yoga pants, an old T-shirt, and slippers. My hair begins to dry into a frizzy mess of a mane that would barely be fashionable in 1973.
11:00 I sit down at my desk and realize it’s an absolute disaster zone. I clean my desk. Which means rearranging all the piles into differently sorted piles. I sort my pen container.
11:30 It’s almost lunch time, so I might as well go online and check the industry blogs. I go online and check my email. Then I go to Facebook. Then all the world fades away and I am sucked into an internet vortex of information, bright colors, videos of kittens playing and fat men dancing, advice on the best toenail polish for your skin tone. I come to and realize I’m reading about how Paris Hilton chose the name for her dog. What’s happening to me? Where am I? It’s 1:00.
1:00 I eat quickly, because now I’m really behind. The crap food I eat instantly gives me heartburn.
1:30 I stare at either my computer screen or a blank page for 20 minutes. Then I remember that the ridges on the doorframes have not been dusted in I don’t know how long. It’s horrifyingly unclean, and I must clean them today. I do this.
2:00 I briefly consider going for a walk, but instead I take a nap on the couch.
2:30 I wake up. I decide I need a change of scenery. I walk to the coffee shop 50 yards from my front door. I ask for a mocha – not too chocolately, please! Only one little scoop! The barista glares at me and gives me an extra chocolately mocha. I sit down with my notebook and ponder whether perhaps he doesn’t like me because of my frizzy hair. I drink part of the mocha and throw the rest out. I go home and take a couple of Tums.
2:45 I examine my hair in the mirror. It’s embarrassingly frizzy. I try some product in it, then try pinning it up a few different ways. It ends up in a ponytail. I realize I’m avoiding writing.
3:00 I sit down with a blank notebook, thoroughly disgusted with myself. I manage to write half a page before I decide that my idea blows. I decide I must look up a better word for “strolled,” so I go online. I have more email. And someone on Facebook commented on someone else’s photo.
4:00 I extract myself from the internet and write another half a page, and it’s worse than pulling teeth. It’s pulling out my toenails with my teeth.
4:30 I spend a bit of time coming up with status updates for my Facebook page. I play with the wording a bit.
5:00 I consider quitting, because clearly the day is a bust. But then I decide I must write more. I stare at a blank page for thirty minutes.
5:30 I start on dinner and spend the evening irritable. I resolve to do better next time.
Goals 2009 January 16, 2009
Tis the season to set goals, and I have several for writing. I’m being general here, but my specific goals are S.M.A.R.T. – as discussed in a previous post – and pinned over my desk!
•My biggest goal is to find an agent for CHEATER. I love this book, and I really believe it has a good shot at finding a place in the market.
•I’m calling this the “year of rough drafts.” I have so many ideas floating around in my head. Some of them I like more than others, but many of them have potential. They are in different genres: Contemporary Fantasy, General Fiction, YA, YA Fantasy, and Travel Writing. Which doesn’t bode well for starting a career, I know. I’ll have to pick something and stick with it for a while if I really want to succeed in the published market. But I’m still, in some ways, finding myself as a writer. Aren’t we all, to some extent? I want to take time to experiment in different genres, different voices, different story lengths. I’ve set some specific goals for which ideas I want to make into rough drafts of both short and novel length stories. I write roughs pretty fast, so I think I can complete several this year.
•Enter some contests. There are some great ones out there. I’ve got my eye on the Golden Heart, and I’m researching some others.
•Blog 2-3 times a week.
•Continue to study the craft through books, classes, conferences, and continuing with my two critique groups.
Now they are out there. There’s no turning back!
Goals September 15, 2008
As a physical therapist, I’ve had to learn how to write goals to make sure health insurances cover my patients’ therapy. Saying: “Mrs. Smith will be able to walk better” just doesn’t cut it. Goals have to be specific, objective, measurable, realistic, and timely. An example that works would be: “In three weeks, Mrs. Smith will ambulate with minimal gait deviation using a single point cane and stand-by assist for 1000 feet.”
Now, before you all nod off, and believe me, I know that sounded excruciatingly boring, there is a point to this. Learning how to set goals can help writers. My long term goal is to be a published author and to write and publish throughout my life. (Yes to the smarty pants out there – I do realize I didn’t put a time frame on that one. Otherwise, it is a specific, objective, measurable, and realistic goal!) So, for me, simply saying, “I’m going to finish a novel someday” just doesn’t cut it.
There’s a system out there that is very similar to what we use as physical therapists: SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (Relevant), and Time-bound. Like the PT method, it works for setting writing goals: “I will write 25 rough-draft pages in my YA novel by this Saturday.”
When I first started writing, my approach was much more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants: “I think I’ll try to write some this week, if I feel inspired.” “I hope to finish a novel someday, maybe try to publish.” I found day after day passing me by, my pen untouched, my brain untapped. Not the best approach for one who really hopes to break into the writing business. I’d resisted setting goals, fearing it would squelch my creativity. In fact, I’ve found that making daily goals for my writing has been liberating rather than confining. Writing every day keeps the cogs of my mind lubed and moving, so that when I do sit down to write, things flow much more easily than they did when I randomly sat down to scribble something out, usually under the pressure that I needed to have something that night for my writers group. When I set a daily page goal for myself, I’m able to relax and write. Before, I would rush through a scene, trying to just get it done. Now, I’m able to relax and immerse myself into what I’m writing. I feel my characters out, dig deeper into their emotions, let things just flow, and then suddenly, I see the little star I drew at the bottom of page number X, and – I did it! I made the progress I’d hoped to make that day. It means a small victory every day, and I can leave the self flagellation (I really should be writing, I wasted all my time today, etc.) behind.
Though I’m yet unpublished, I treat my writing like it’s a job. Luckily, it’s a job for which I have endless passion and plenty of drive. I love hearing what published authors have to say on balancing the creative process with the more objective side of writing – understanding the business, finishing projects, knowing what you hope to accomplish. It takes strength in both to make it in this field.
By the way, one of my goals for today was to write a blog on writing goals. Done!