Since the big quitting, I find I don’t quite know what to do with myself.
In the morning, I sit down to write, as usual. That habit has been trained over three years and it’s the most familiar thing in the world.
After a couple pages of editing Tales, I take the dog for a walk. So far, so good. It always feels good to do something active in the morning. If I don’t do any other exercise for the rest of the day, at least I did that.
And when I get back home, my body tenses, ready now for the flood of communications that normally come roaring in. I’m ready, I brace myself, I open my email…and this morning it didn’t come.
Of course this is still the holiday break for many people. I’d forgotten that! And most of my clients and coworkers are on vacation, so it’s kind of quiet on that front.
But for the past several years that has been my routine. Writing and walking in the morning, and spending the rest of the day at the day job and reacting to all the other projects I had going on in 2016.
Since the big quitting, there’s this hole in my day. And I have to figure out the best way to fill it with productive writing.
But I find myself doing these other things instead, and they’re worth listing out so that I can pin and then exorcise them like demons:
- Check Facebook. And Twitter.
- Check WordPress.com stats. Sigh.
- Check book sales. No.
- Check email.
God damnit. The worst part is that now I have all this time to write, but my body and mind aren’t trained to do the work yet.
My body and mind are trained to check email, prepare for the next meeting, respond to messages from the night before.
And the absolute worst part is that on days like this, when there are so few emails and notifications, I actually feel bored.
How can I be bored when I have 62% of a novel remaining to edit by mid-January?
How can I be bored when I have Translocator 2 and 3 to plan and write?
How can I be bored when I have a short story to finish and dozens more to write?
How indeed. And yet…
Now that I’ve made the time, I’ve got to learn to fill it productively. I’ve got to learn to associate the hits of adrenaline with productive work instead of spending the remainder of my day reacting or checking my phone.
Time to rewire my brain to get the same high and satisfaction out of writing that I usually get out of reacting to emails.
So how do I do this? The same way I kickstart any habit.
- Make a detailed calendar with deadlines
- Create an accountability system
- Reward myself when I hit my goals
- Forgive myself when I don’t
• • •
Focusing on the things I can control—words complete—I mapped out the percentage to complete I need to hit to get Tales of the Republic in to the copyeditor by January 15th. That’s about 10% progress every 3 days, or roughly 2-3 scenes per day.
That’s my primary focus right now, but if I get bored, then I can switch to the current short story, or the nonfiction project I’ve been noodling with.
If I’m not feeling the fiction, I can also use the blog as a warmup, like I did with this post today.
And at the end of the day I can read in my genre. I’ve got several short stories queued up on my Kindle.
• • •
I wrote the above blog post as a warmup this morning and came back tonight to fill out my progress. After my slow morning, I got things moving and started making progress.
I edited 4,000 words fiction (adding 937 to manuscript of Tales)
I wrote 1,350 words nonfiction —this blog and the outline/intro of the new nonfiction book for writers.
A good day. And I’ve made HUGE progress on Tales since the last update. I jumped up 13% since the last update 5 days ago! Best progress I’ve made in months.
No changes in short stories since the last update, however. That’s okay with me 🙂
Tales of the Republic … Status: Revising … Second draft, 43% complete
(34,368 words revised / 80,000 estimated total words)
“The Door Below the Comic Store” … 6,000 words … Status: Post-production
“Wendigo” … 12,000 words … Status: Queued for post-production
“A Body of Work” … Status: Writing (2,694 words written / 6,000 estimated total words)
“Centurion” … 3,000 words … Status: Out for submission
“Earworm” … 3,000 words … Status: Out for submission
Work-in-progress for writers … 500 words