In the past I was always super squeamish about sharing my writing process. Questions swirled around in my head. Am I doing this wrong? What will people think? Am I amateur hour?
Now I realize there is no right or wrong way, just “your” way. You have to do what works for you. What works for me seems to be always evolving in an effort to keep up with a busy life that doesn’t always follow a strict schedule. I have a tiny writing office, but it’s in a location that isn’t conducive to hearing the baby when he’s sleeping…so I write wherever I can. Desktop in the kitchen, laptop at the table, etc. I dream of returning to my little office. I dream of the day when I’ll be able to escape to the local coffee shop to get a couple hours of uninterrupted writing done. For now, I enjoy cuddling with my newborn and writing when I can. I think having flexibility to make things work is the most important gift you can give yourself. Instead of “I can’t,” it’s a lot more productive to think about “how can I?”
Solutions. “Plan B,” as I teach my son. Can’t do it one way? What is our plan B?
Sometimes I don’t always get time to write. I make it a rule to write everyday unless the universe conspires against me and circumstances prevent it. That happens sometimes. Otherwise I write every day. I do try to stay on a schedule. Recently I re-wrote my goals for the novel I’m working on and it’s great for keeping me on track, eyes on the prize.
I can’t work with nebulous ideas of what I’m supposed to be doing. I need specific, concrete targets to aim for. Today, I revised chapter 24. I’m one chapter behind, but I’m catching up.
I’m busy revising chapters for one novel, writing the first draft for another, and working on the outline for the third. In the past I focused on one project at a time. I’m trying something different. I hate when I feel “forced” to revise or “forced” to meet a word count quota. Sometimes my brain feels clogged and it helps to work on another project to get the flow moving again. I like juggling. I like having three balls up in the air, giving my brain something to chew on at any given moment.
I also like to keep notes. My brain is always thinking of new points, ideas, conclusions, etc. I write them down before I forget. There’s a lot of forgetting that can happen with three children and other non-writing work to be done in the world. I don’t like forgetting.
Google Docs are fantastic too. I can leave myself comments on a document I’m working on. No forgetting this way.
The worst part about not having a lot of writing time is the stop-and-go nature of what I’m doing. I get on a roll, and my kids wake up. I get on a roll, and the baby cries. I get on a roll, and my husband wakes up early and starts talking my ear off. I feel like I never get enough time. I feel like I’m always under-performing. A lot of times my goals feel so, so far away.
I have to take a deep breath and re-focus. Sometimes I slip into that pit of despair, and it takes all day to get out of my funk. Change of scenery usually works. Reminding myself to “fake it ’til I make it” helps.
I’m a strong advocate for balance. I find that when I feel inadequate in my writing, having specific goals to meet (that are reasonably attainable) helps me feel like I’m doing enough given my current circumstances. If I feel like I’m doing my personal best, I’m happy. And you know what?
I’m writing a heck of a lot more right now with three small children than I ever did as a single woman living alone. Seriously.
I can do hard things.
This is my mantra. I think about it when I’m running. I think about it whenever I’m doing things I don’t want to do but know I should do. I think about it when I feel like everything I write sucks. I think about it when my eyeballs pop out at the thought of 13 more chapters to revise.
I also think about the fact that I want to do this for the rest of my life even if I’m the only one reading my work. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. I’m doing what I love.