Saturday, January 10, 2015

Training Myself to Write, Part Two

Typewriter Letters by Lainey Powell

It has been one month since I decided to train myself to be a writer. You may recall I was inspired by the output of other writers. I just didn’t compare well to their prolificness. I had all these great ideas covered in cobwebs in my head because I didn’t write fast enough. I wanted to take my writing to the next level and worried about all my downtime. Yes, yes, I am disabled and sick all the time. However, if I wanted to make a living as a writer there had to be some changes. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized there wasn’t much I could do about that downtime. It was due to disability, right? But there was a ton I could do about my uptime. How did I spend it? How focused was I? Was I watching too much TV? Playing too many games? Heck, did I want this book finished by my birthday or not‽ So I made some goals to start my days off right and got busy.

A little over a week later I came across a blog post by Dave Farland on being prolific. This was one of those serendipitous moments where you come across something exactly when you needed it. I definitely recommend you read his article because he shares interesting insights into his work ethic as well as gives good tips, but I’ll quote the part that struck me the hardest:

A few years ago, I was in a car with Kevin J. Anderson, a writer who is more prolific than I am, and we passed a corner where literally hundreds of young people were loitering. They weren’t going anywhere. It was merely thousands of young people just watching cars cruise the strip. We looked at one another, and Kevin was the first to break. “How can they waste their lives like this?”

No idea. But I do know that many people who want to be writers spend too much time watching old television episodes or movies that they’ve seen ten times before. They waste hours on Facebook, or play videogames. They sit around talking. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for enjoying life, but for me a big part of that joy comes from my art.

If I had read that a few weeks earlier, I would have hated myself having just marathoned Intruders, but I had been actively working on my daily morning goals and took the article as validation of my new focus. In fact, I worked on my goals all the way through December into January where I finally finished that book the other day. I missed my birthday goal, but getting strep throat and a respiratory virus didn’t help out much with that. I mean, I thought I was sick in the week of Thanksgiving. This made that cold look like the sniffles. I’m still coughing so hard that I get light-headed and lose my vision & balance a little bit, but I still made better use of my uptime. All that focus paid off.

Committing to twenty-five words per day was never about being happy at the twenty-fifth word. It was about training myself to make time for book writing beyond my other assignments. I have now been writing 100 words per day for the past nine days. Of course, I never stop at 100. Tomorrow I step up to 250 words per day. Each new stage scares me at first because of the commitment, but that's what this exercise is all about. Facing my fear and training myself to accept more writing. I'll watch less TV. Play less games. Read less news. And write more. After all, 250 words per day is a paltry sum of words, too.

You can still join me over on Lift (Now called It’s a free app, and a great way of keeping track of your goals. (Available for Android & iPhone)

My daily morning goals now look like this:

  1. Scriptures
  2. Prayer
  3. Distracted Writers Club - 250 words per day
  4. Secret drawing project

After I catch up on my freelance work, I’ll be undertaking a new goal for the year. I think I’m ready for fiction again. I just need to decide if I’m revamping something old or beginning with something new. Wish me luck.

Do you have any goals that you need refocusing on? This isn’t a Happy New Year’s thing. This is us not letting ADHD, Depression, nor anything else define our lives for us. Speak up in the comments and make a goal for yourself. I’ll try to post updates on my progress once a month. You can update us in the comments, too.

Oh, wait. Did I mention that I FINISHED MY BOOK‽ Didn’t think so.