Writing Problem du jour by J Vincent

My writing problem du jour or rather de l'année is simply writing. The actual physical task of pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. I struggle with how to get myself back on track to daily meaningful—let’s even skip meaningful— to writing. To be a writer one must write. Now running through my mind is the caution that one must not have word repetition. Are five forms of “write” too much repetition? Ahh, distraction.

Distracted writers do not write. Distracted writers cook, clean, sew, quilt, babysit, do laundry, organize anything and everything etc. etc. We make lists on things to do and even on how to get back to writing. There are many legitimate distractions. Emergencies happen, circumstances change in a flash and schedules only seem made to be disrupted. For me it is truly an ongoing struggle to find time to write. No, I need to be honest since the first step in recovery is to admit the truth. I do have time to write. The problem is I do not when I choose to do something else. It was such a struggle that I did have the internal debate about giving up writing. But I blog here because it makes me write. I post a monthly “Coze” on my website because it ensures more writing. I’m never truly happy not writing so it isn’t time to give it up.

Then how can I make sure I do it? Better stated, how DO I make sure I do it? What I should do is set an image of a leprechaun—a leprechaun with a really big gavel in hand, on the top shelf above my computer. She should bear a striking resemblance to a very successful author who happens to be our intrepid leader. Every time I am tempted to drift away from my writing task she whacks the shelf and shouts “Set and KEEP Goals!” Seriously, this is an excellent if not THE point.

Setting goals is key to keeping on track and gaining writing success. Every time I’ve been prodded into doing so I have accomplished something. So I’ve been setting very small goals and reaching them for the most part. Large goals overwhelm. I am easily drawn into my “impossible” mode with large goals these days. So my goals are writing for an hour; planning a specific scene; writing that scene; editing; and then continuing to the next part of the book. It’s like stacking toy blocks into a building, except I get pages filled with sentences and paragraphs. Which lead to more pages. Which leads to goals met. Achieving goals breeds and feeds success. Following my goals, which are progressive, leads me to a completed book. This blog post proves goals work—due to setting a goal it was written a full two weeks before I had to have it up—not the day before like sometimes happens.

No plan is fail safe. I love, no I need, back up plans. Please share how you get edge or better yet, blast your way through the temptation to not write.


Penny Rader said...

Cute leprechaun with a mighty gavel, Joan.

What does de l'année mean?

Raising my hand as one guilty of allowing myself to be distracted and choosing to spend time doing things other than writing.

My new solution? 10 minutes a day of writing something, anything (and gradually increasing the amount of writing time once I consistently meet that goal). And I must confess sometimes it's just writing the same line of crap to fill the 10 minutes...but every once in a while something new breaks through.

2nd confession -- I did not write yesterday 'cause I was mightily distracted: 1st by the dentist appointment awaitng me and 2nd by the pain from having a wisdom tooth yanked. Hoping the pain dwindles today so I can think about something else. Should've at least written down the scary thoughts and feelings for future reference. That would've exceeded 10 minutes.

I guess my version of the gavel-wielding leprechaun is one of Starla's collectibles lined up with lighthouses on top of my desk at work. It's a pirate (or maybe a crusty sailor) who stares down at me. When I look up, he scowls at me as if to say, "Argh. Written anything today?"

Joan Vincent said...

Penny, de l'année means "of the year." Ouch with the dentist. I hate going to the dentist due to childhood nightmare times in the dentist's chair but that's another story.

Distractions abound like stones on a path to trip us up. You've made a good beginning with the 10 minute plan. The only thing we can do is keep trying and trying and trying. Persistence is 90% of success.

Tell that pirate you did write something today!

Melissa Robbins said...

I stop writing in the middle of a chapter or scene, so when I come back the next day, I have something to start with.

Rox Delaney said...

I've been struggling with doing revisions requested by my editor on two proposals. Even after brainstorming with the 2Ks twice, I couldn't make myself move forward and get it done.

On Thursday morning, a very dear friend lost her second battle with cancer. Denise would never let me get away with my latest stretch of procrastination if she'd known. And maybe she did, because later that morning, I swear she told me to get my butt in gear.

I'll have this done before the end of next week.

BTW, this isn't something I would want to happen for any reason.

As another dear friend said, Heaven has a new angel.

Thanks, D. :)

Joan Vincent said...

Melissa, that's a very good idea. when I'm in full writing mode I edit a chapter or scene from the day before and then write the next. Having something going does make it easier to continue.

Joan Vincent said...

Rox, my condolences on the loss of your friend. That is so hard--I also lost a long time friend to cancer this year. But she's still a friend as shown by prompting you to take action. Good luck on the revisions though you don't really need luck with such a friend backing you.

Penny Rader said...

{{{{{{Hugs}}}}}}}, Rox.

Reese Mobley said...

Joan, procrastination seems to be a recurring problem with a lot of us. If only there was a one cure fits all. Thanks for the a peek into your writing life.

Rox Delaney said...

Thanks, Joan and Penny.

As far as procrastination goes, it's a mind game, often caused by low self-esteem or lack in our own abilities. For some, it's a fear of, not failure, but success. We have to find a way to get past that. In Do the Work Steven Pressfield says, Don't think. Act. That's what we all need to chant to ourselves until it becomes a part of it. As writers--aka artists--we tend to overthink things.

Joan Vincent said...

Over thinking is, indeed, a danger. When we do it we can convince ourselves we don't have enough talent, or enough research or enough whatever to write. This paralyzes. So yes, my new mantra will be "Don't think. Act!"

Frances Louis said...

Thanks for the wonderful post, Joan. All too often I come up with things to do other than writing, and shove it aside. With school starting, I have a set time in the afternoon, free of children and additional dsitractions in which I hope to devote, NO...I WILL devote solely to writing.

I have to remember to keep goals small and to congradulate myself when I reach them!

Starla Kaye said...

I produce a lot...but I struggle, too, with getting distracted. There are so many interesting new marketing ideas passing around the links now and I love to read about them, and try them.

I get distracted by hosting guest authors on my website and being fascinated by what they share with me.

I get distracted by...well, everything. Somehow I do rein myself in from time to time in order to meet one deadline or another.

Uh-oh, I need to pull away from these blogs right now. I have a big deadline this week.