Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Excuses!

So I said my next post would be about critiques, and that one's coming, but today I have another topic on my mind: accountability. Recently I joined a local writers' group, and it's helped me in more ways than I can name. But one of the main ways is accountability.

I have people who care whether I do or don't write. People who want me to meet my goals and do well and stay motivated. Who want me to finish writing that section or revising that chapter or outlining that new idea. Who make me feel guilty when I don't.

And we all know guilt is a huge motivator.

At the group's latest meeting, we voted to implement a 30-day writing boot camp, a 50-word-a-day challenge for us each to strive for before we meet up again next month. I know, I know, you're thinking, "50 words? That's nothing." Yeah. Right. I've yet to meet that 50-word goal since the challenge began five days ago. And the guilt is positively EATING at me.

Our group has an online forum, a message board, and I've been watching other writers' word counts roll in daily. 771 words. 553 words. 210 words. I've been too ashamed to respond. Too ashamed to make the piddly excuses that have been rolling around in my head.... "But this is my busy week. I'm working 8-5 every day and still churning out freelance stories after-hours."

Blah, blah, blah. Excuses, excuses. I wrote most of my first draft in the post-bedtime hours while working full-time, and I could - and should - be doing the same thing now. I could - and should - have a draft ready for critique.

I could - and should - be writing 50 words a day on my WIP every day for the next 25 days. And I could - and will - use the guilt of this challenge to help me do better. Because I hate feeling guilty. I hate it, and yet I feel it a LOT.

Which just means I need to Stop Making Excuses and Write.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writer's Block

Wow. I'm so sorry about the unannounced 6-week break from This Writing Business! It was unplanned and unexpected, but it goes to show how taking a few days off can seriously derail a girl's writing routine.

As far as explanation is concerned, I've been wrapped up in a major freelance writing gig for a corporate client. For the last three and a half months, I've spent Tuesdays and Thursdays in The Land of Gray Walls & White Noise getting reacquainted with corporate life and writing communications materials. That, too, was unexpected - the result of a random phone call from years of inadvertent networking.

The new gig means I've had to cram my usual freelance writing work - newspaper and magazine stories on homes, design and the arts - into the other three days of the workweek along with mommying and revising my WIP. I haven't neglected my manuscript (or my child) in these busy few months, but I haven't had as much time for revisions as I'd like, to say the least. And blogging? Well, you can see how well that's worked out. I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, though. Just two weeks left of my four-month assignment, then my schedule should regain some level of normalcy.

Whatever that means for a freelance writer.

At any rate, I'm determined to stop neglecting my blog, and I have a lot I want to blog about. In the midst of the busy-ness, I've hit some writing milestones - like participating in my first critique session with an actual group of fiction writers (before, the only people who'd read my work were friends and family members). It was wonderful and awful all at the same time ... but both the wonderful and the awful parts were actually wonderful, if that makes sense. It doesn't? OK, put it this way: I learned a LOT from the criticism I received. And I'm hoping to build some relationships from it and gain at least one long-term critique partner.

So basically, hi! This Writing Business is back. I hope you're meeting your writing goals and maybe even learning a little bit from my scheduling missteps. ;-)