So, it’s been three weeks since I left my job at Patch, and I wanted to share an update.
Of course life’s been paradise, that goes without saying. Time is precious again, in a good way. It means something more than please-God-hurry-up-and-let-it-be-over between Fridays. But this post is about remembering the lessons I have learned, and not letting them go to waste as one day melts into another.
I never want to fool myself again that time is something I will always have, like an immortal vampire.
This post is a reminder to myself to keep to the same rigorous standards I have kept to while working at Patch. I have more reason to do so. Now I am working for myself.
Granted, it’s the middle of summer, with kids here, always here, and as amazing as my kids are for this writing mama, it isn’t always easy. When I keep letting them interrupt my writing thread, I start and stop like a stalling locomotive. If I say “please not now,” I feel like a rotten parent right away.
On the days when I wake up at 5 a.m, I need a nap at 3 p.m., all my thoughts “gone fishin’.”
Even in paradise, things sometimes need improvement
I am not making excuses. All in all, I have been doing okay. I’ve been racing at highway speed, actually, compared to the way I was moving forward when I was working for someone else.
I finished analyzing a fat bestseller I admire for scene construction and maneuvering multiple plotlines and characters through the story. I have applied to a writing MFA program of my dreams. And I have been making steady progress on my work-in-progress.
But I want to do even better. I need to remember Patch. I need to be stronger.
So, I’m not going to wait for New Year’s: I am going to make some summertime writing resolutions now. Or maybe I should say, I am going to “renew” my writing “vows.” A lot of this I am already doing. I just have to keep going. Some of it, I need to do more.
If any of the below applies to any of you, fellow writers, feel free to join me.
1. Write every day of my life, for as long as I live, even on vacation, even if it’s fifteen minutes a day. (But more than that — waay more, when not on vacation, or in the midst of an incredibly busy weekend).
2. Make meaningful time for at least one of my kids each day, preferably both, (and bedtime reading doesn’t count, dinner conversation and small talk between writing and chores doesn’t count). This can only be flexible if and whenI find myself on an extremely tight publisher deadline, but even with that, at least fifteen minutes of doing something special — something different with kids each day shouldn’t really be that hard to come by.
3. Wake up at 5 a.m. (at least on weekdays), and learn not to be tired, either. Worst case: take a 15 to 20-minute nap in the middle of the day. I can do it!
4. Oh, and here is a biggie. Facebook — comments, other blogs, links, etc? I need to save that for evening, just after dinnertime. This one is maybe the toughest on my list, as crazy as that sounds.
5. Quit trying to chase myself with unreasonable deadlines of three chapters a day, or even one chapter a day. When this happens on its own, I will treat it like a present, not a requirement that my muse must keep to just because it can. As long as I keep going, that’s what counts, not chapters per day.
6. Keep writing into my “writing process” notebook as I continuously learn things about my own process: the things I have tried, the things that have worked for me and those that seem great but turn out counter-productive.
7. Keep adding to a notebook where I note all sorts of quirks I notice around me. Or crazy thoughts of my own. Observations, too, things like, a squirrel running an obstacle course over the top of my fence outside my window. Or the way I feel about a hole made by a moth in my cashmere sweater.
I know this list may not be for everyone. A lot of other writers aren’t doing this, or don’t want to. But I also know that if I can keep to these self-imposed rules, it will do wonders for my productivity.
Have you any writing vows you occasionally need to renew?
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