Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How A Small Writing Goal Is Changing Everything

The past year and a half has been crazy for me. I found out I had diabetes and I got married. I've struggled with pain from migraines and my teeth. I've had mild surgery and almost had to have a second mild surgery because of a weird cyst thing that I had in my mouth. (Most of my health problems, I haven't shared on social media.) My rottweilers have been sick a lot. Izzy had pancreatitis and I was taking Mika to the vet every week because it turns out that he has Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, which is a dog's version of Crohn's Disease.

I've honestly been overwhelmed with all the changes and struggles in my life lately. I've had a lot to adjust to and work past and my writing hasn't been as quick as I would have liked.

I used to spend all day writing. I remember once writing seventy thousand words in a week. They all had to be edited, but I was happy with it.

But lately, I've sat down, been trying to force myself to write at least ten thousand words because I've been writing infrequently and wanting to catch up. Instead, I've been staring at my novels and getting overwhelmed and my mind has been going blank on a lot of days. Even when it doesn't and I write two thousand words, instead of feeling proud of it, I've felt disgusted with myself, saying things in my head like,"This isn't the way to write three or four books a year and you can't be a successful writer unless you write three or four books a year!"

Then my friend on facebook suggested making a New Years Resolution of writing only one hundred words every day. I liked this idea. It was very doable, even on days where my life was insane. I was tired of going days or sometimes weeks without progress when things got to hectic.

And because of it, I've been writing every day! Not only that, but I feel really good about myself and my novels. It's so easy to meet the goal of one hundred words every day and now I say,"As long as I write one hundred, I wasn't a failure today" even if all I write is one hundred. I've found myself writing much more than one hundred words a day and enjoying every bit of it. Where before I was criticizing myself because I still hadn't met my goal, now I am congratulating myself daily for the progress.

I think it's hard for writers not to get into this psychological head trip where we are critizing ourselves and what we write and how fast constantly. It's a muse killer. I was writing still, but it felt mechanical rather than inspired. This has breathed life back into the whole thing. Because I'm writing those extra words because I want to, not because I feel like I need to meet some impossible goal.

I'm so happy.

So if you're a writer like me and you're frustrated with yourself, cut yourself some slack and you might be surprised by how much you can achieve. I'm achieving more now without the pressure than I was before.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Writing Goals

This month, I decided to participate in a challenge that my friend gave everyone, to write at least a hundred words every day. It's not that I wasn't writing already, but I was doing it in infrequent sprints, so I wanted to get back in the habit of making sure I write every single day, so I took on the challenge.

At first, I panicked because I got a horrible migraine on the first of this month and couldn't write a word for two days (or even have the light on without wincing), but then after I recovered, I've successfully written at least a hundred words every day. (So if you already messed up your New Years goals like I did immediately that doesn't mean you can't start again now! Go for it!) Most days I write much more than one hundred, about a thousand words or so, but its good for the spirit. The goal I have to meet every day is so small that I feel accomplished pretty quickly and don't feel as much pressure. Any words I write beyond the first one hundred are basically bonus words that I wrote that day. It's a psychological trip, where instead of beating yourself up because you wanted to write five thousand words and failed to do so, you are patting yourself on the back and getting more excited about writing.

I think my writing spirit was a bit crushed lately.

Although I am not writing at super speed with a super high word count right now, I am writing more quickly than I was writing before (and with more excitement about the whole thing!)

Also, I've been working on finishing two books at once. Yes, that is twice the work, but I feel like somehow it is actually ten times the work. I think in the future, I should work on publishing just one book at a time. It's just that I wanted to make the first book free and the second book concludes the first book, so I thought it would be better to publish them both at once. But then my books come out so slowly and I'd rather get more of my books out quickly.

I say this now, but I actually have a trilogy (that I've already written the first draft of the first book for) that I don't feel comfortable publishing until I am done with all three. So we will see what I actually wind up doing in the future.

I've also been spending more time away from social media. I'd still like to keep logging onto it. I learn a lot from talking to other authors from it. But I've also been getting more writing done without it, so I'm kind of conflicted there.

Anyway, how are all of you? What are your writing goals for this upcoming year?