Friday, March 4, 2011

What Not to Do

Gee-eesh. February was a busy month. And by that, I mean it wasn't.

At least not from a fiction writing standpoint.

No, I'm sad to admit, I have not been following my own advice. I haven't been fitting time into my daily schedule to revise my manuscript. I haven't been fitting in time to blog. I haven't been fitting in time to organize my notes or think about my characters or create a plan of attack for all of the above.

And I certainly haven't met my self-imposed deadline for revisions.

In my defense, what's happened in the past month has been fairly unexpected. I didn't realize, when I made the switch from full-time interior design to full-time freelance writing, that I'd be flooded with work. (If I had, I might have done this quite some time ago. And trust me, I'm not complaining about it. A writer's gotta eat.)

But now that it's happened, I do need to figure out a way to juggle it all in a way that doesn't push out my time to revise. My time to blog. My time to contemplate my characters and hear their conversations and live inside their heads. It was a lot easier, I must say, to live and breathe writing in my spare time when I wasn't living and breathing writing in my work time. During the months that I spent churning out a 100,000-plus word draft, I got plenty of reprieve from the computer screen during my 9-to-5's at the design firm.

Of course, the only time I had to churn those words out was late, late, laaaaate at night. So it's all a give-and-take, really. I have more flexibility in my schedule now, but not as much variety. So when to write fiction? When to revise? I've found that I can't stare at the computer screen for hours each night when I've already stared at it for hours each day. I have, have, have to push fiction up on my priority list.

Because really, the whole reason I've chosen writing as a full-time gig is because I love it so much. And I've learned in the past two years that fiction is what I love most. It's kind of like giving all your best time to co-workers and strangers, then coming home at night and being bitchy to your spouse and kids. I'm giving my best hours to my less interesting, less passion-filled paid writing work and being bitchy to my WIP.

And I love my WIP. So all that said, here's my best go at a list of what NOT to do while working to become a published author, gleaned from my own hard-fought experience:
  • Don't expect the process to be quick or easy.
  • Don't set unrealistic expectations, goals, or in my case, deadlines.
  • Don't forget that real life comes first, fiction second. In other words:
  • Don't try to wait for that "perfect moment" to write, because it never comes.
  • Don't get discouraged. Even when you go two weeks without opening your WIP or posting to your blog, all isn't lost. Pick yourself up, figure out what needs to change and plunge ahead.

And that's what I'm doing. I'm back in the manuscript tonight, and it feels great. Like coming home after a long, exhausting business trip. This blog is about the whole of my writing process - the highs, the lows, the triumphs and the setbacks. I've had a good run lately with non-fiction, a disappointing stretch with fiction. So what? That just means I'm due for a good stretch of revisions.

I'm itching for it. Aching for it. Loving that I'm back. And I am back, baby.

Photo credit Abulic Monkey


  1. If you break the code for how to fit 48 hours into 24 let me know please LOL. Great blog!

  2. OMG, no kidding. I keep saying I wish I could find the pause button. :)