Fear & Self-Loathing in Las Veg- Er, the Midwest

Fear & Self-Loathing in Las Veg- Er, the Midwest

Week one of keeping a progress journal and, of course, I’m a little late with my entry. But here it is, it exists! PROGRESS.

It’s almost amazing how, the more I want to write, the more difficult it seems to be to find the time, energy, and motivation to actually do it. Yes, they appear to be directly proportional. (I’ve found it’s an often bemoaned reality in the writing community, so at least I’m not alone on this)
So it goes, I get myself all hyped up to work on my book. I’ll set aside time, make a schedule, set some goals and then, when it finally comes time to put pen to paper, I find an excuse to do something else. Anything else. It’s madness.

And yet, I find myself doing the same thing when it comes to practicing on my motorcycle. I’ll tell myself tonight, after work, I’m going on a nice long ride- really push the boundaries on my comfort zone. But then there’s laundry, and dishes, and boy golly the shower could use a scrub, and gosh, look at the time! No motorcycles tonight!

And I know why I’m doing it- I’m still a bit afraid of the bike. I still don’t have a lot of trust in my fledgling abilities- even though I know the only cure for that is, duh, MORE PRACTICE. But fear is a powerful distraction. And so, it’s easy to extrapolate, to assume fear plays a large part in my procrastination with my writing. But it’s more subtle, less sensible. My fear of practicing on the bike makes perfect sense- it’s bloody dangerous! But writing? What exactly am I afraid of? Fear of failure, of confirming my own mediocrity? Something like that.

But the solution is just as straightforward. Get your butt on the bike and ride, dammit! Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I’ve been reading a lot more lately as a compromise for when I can’t bring myself to write, and I’m finding it really helps. The more I read, the more I really, REALLY want to write, and it starts to tip the scales, my excitement beginning to outweigh the fear. My productivity is on the rise!

Now, if only I could find a similar strategy for the bike…

I’mmm baaaaaack! 

I’mmm baaaaaack! 

Ooooh boy- If this was a physical journal, the dust on it would be three inches thick. To be honest, I kind of forgot this thing existed. But I’m trying to get myself reorganized and I want to get back into blogging, if not only to strengthen my writing habits. And I haven’t stopped writing. Progress on my rough draft has been crawling along. It hasn’t come quickly, but at least it hasn’t stalled. 

 I think I’ll try to start penning little weekly updates, just to keep myself accountable as I try to finish my editing. Writing for a blog that no one really reads feels a little like screaming into the void, but even that has its purpose, I think. I’d like to kick my editing into overdrive and get the lion’s share finished before November. That’ll free me up to participate in NaNoWriMo again.

 That’s the plan anyway. I just need to become a little more disciplined.

Finding Time to Write (And Failing)

Finding Time to Write (And Failing)

Well, February has come and gone and I’ve fallen miserably short of my lofty 20,000 word goal, rounding out the month with a measly 8k. It probably goes without saying but I’m incredibly disappointed with myself.

I know dwelling and stressing won’t help, and with the start of a new month, I have another chance to live up to my own expectations. And I know I’m capable! The problem is frustratingly simple: I don’t write every day. If I did, I would hit my goal with ease.

For example, I’m aiming to hit 15k by the end of March which, when broken down into little bite-sized chunks, means I’m only writing around 500 words a day. Super manageable. Very doable. Until I start missing days. Then those bite-sized chunks turn into choking hazards. I reach the end of a long work day and I don’t feel like writing; I promise myself I’ll do double tomorrow to make up for it. Then tomorrow’s work day is longer and I’m daunted by the larger word count so I avoid it another day. And that’s how I end up with a freakin’ 8k total when it should be 20!

Exasperated, I vented about this toxic cycle to a non-writer friend and they seemed confused. “I thought you loved writing? Why are you always avoiding it?” It’s hard to explain, because it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I do love writing! I’m also terrified of it. There’s nothing scarier than an empty page. I just want what’s in my head to magically appear on the lines before me and I know that’s not how it works. I’m going to write a mountain of crap that will have to be pared, plucked, and polished before it comes even close to resembling what I set out to create. And that’s how it’s supposed to work! But when you’re a perfectionist with a crippling fear of failure (and in my experience, most writers are) some days it feels easier to just flip on the TV, surf the web, or even stare at the wall than face that fear and get that crappy first draft on paper.

The solution? Self-discipline. And let me tell you, I don’t have much. With only personal deadlines to meet and only myself to disappoint, it’s far too easy to blow off a writing session in favor of something more relaxing.

That’s where accountability comes in. I need to rely on my friends and family to get on my case and start checking up on me. If they see me with 3DS in hand, nose in a comic, or hiding behind a laptop (one that’s emitting decidedly non-writing noises) they need to ask me, “Hey! Did you write today?” And the answer better be yes! And, when they’re not watching, I need to start asking myself that question. And answering it, honestly. Otherwise, I’m only bound for more failure.

Here’s the Plan

Here’s the Plan

So let’s start with a plan, shall we? I love making lists and plans; just like I love buying office supplies. It’s the illusion of productivity. It feels like I’ve already accomplished something! But in all seriousness, it’s generally a lot easier to hit a goal if you actually set one. And the clearer the parameters, the harder it is for me to justify NOT accomplishing it. So without further ado, my writing goals for 2016!

WRITE A NOVEL!

This is a multifaceted goal made up of smaller milestone markers.

Step 1: Finish on my rough draft. This means pure writing and absolutely no editing. Learning to resist the urge to go back and read what I’ve written and start tinkering has been an incredibly freeing experience. If I had to give one single piece of advice to struggling writers like myself, that would be it. KEEP WRITING AND DON’T LOOK BACK. It’s the easiest way to make consistent progress. Editing is an entirely different step and I’ll get there when the draft is done and not before. (or there probably won’t be a draft!)

For the month of February I wanted to hit 20,000 words but with only a few days left,  I’ll be lucky to hit 10K. There were too many days where I couldn’t seem to find time to sit down and write (this is my biggest problem and I haven’t found a good solution, but more on that later) and some days where I spent my writing time working on background, world-building, and additional plot work instead. However, since I have this Monday off, I’m going to channel my inner English student and write as much as I can before the ‘due date’ and we’ll see just how close to that lofty 20k I can get.

The plan is to finish the rough draft by the end of March. I don’t know exactly how long it will be till I’m finished, but I’m aiming for that typical 50k mark. That means I’ll probably have another 15k or so to write by month’s end.

After that it’s a marathon of editing and rewriting till I’m satisfied! Having never had to edit a piece this large, I’m not sure of how much time to budget, but my gut is to assume a month. That would put me at May with a finished, polished piece.

After that? It’s hard to say, exactly. The site Inkshares has caught my eye. It’s a crowdfunding site for publishing. (think a kickstarter for books) And the preorder goals to get published seem pretty reasonable. If I’m happy with how the novel turns out, that’s probably where I’ll take it. But there’s still a lot to do before I reach that point.

Well, let’s get to it!

Have any suggestions, advice, words of encouragement? Feel free to lay it on me!