After only getting in about 9000 words during the first half of November (way off the 25K needed to stay on track for NaNoWriMo), I decided to reevaluate my writing habits. The check phase of my own personal Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle for continuous improvement.
Sure, I have excuses. I scheduled too many things, got thrown off—and helped—by the Michael Hauge workshop, was struggling with my storyline, couldn’t deal with the early mornings forced by my kids’ swim schedule.
But in the end, regardless of all my reasons, I wasn’t putting in the required amount of time needed to get down the words.
So what was really getting in my way? The usual suspects: email, Facebook, blog reading, Twitter.
I have this desire to start my day by clearing my Inbox and getting all distractions “out of the way”. But you know what happens when I do that? By the time I’m done—often hours later, despite thinking it’ll be much less—I don’t have the productive energy left to write.
After spending half the morning online, I’ve used up all my mental enthusiasm on activities that don’t produce words.
This wasn’t really news to me. Or probably to you for that matter. I reassess every few months, and it’s always the same thing. The hard part is getting over that feeling that I need to respond to emails right away. That blog comments should be acknowledged as soon as I see them. That if I don’t answer Twitter mentions or respond to Facebook comments someone will actually care.
But, wow, I’m just not that important in the scheme of other people’s lives. That’s not a statement of low self-esteem, it’s an affirmation that my priorities should come first.
So, this week I changed things. I now start the morning with writing.
I let my gym membership expire since I have equipment at home, so now while my boys swim, I write. I can get in 600-1000 words before 6:15 in the morning! That’s a good feeling, and gets me in the mood to keep going.
Then I keep writing through the morning until I meet my word count goal. If I hit lunch before my word count, I let myself take a break, just like I did when I worked full time. Eat, read a good book, maybe watch a quick TV show, but most important, stay off the computer.
And then, go back to work.
Only when I’ve met my goal do I get online, write my blog, or work on other responsibilities. Just like if I were still working outside the house. I need to remember that paid or not, writing is now my job. I have to treat it as such. Only I can make it happen.
Simple, but not always easy.
So, is it working?
On Tuesday I wrote for almost five hours and got in 3500 words. Yesterday in just over three hours I did about 2700. Hard to argue with numbers like that.
Will it work every day? Probably not, but it’s a good start.
How about you? How are you doing with your goals?