Monday, March 5, 2012

Writing When The World Conspires Against You - Inching Toward Success

I'd wanted to do a post on Orson Scott Card's M.I.C.E quotient and finish the last installment of a short story series (Apollo Rising) this week. But, alas, things didn't work out. The M.I.C.E post has been delayed, and I'm still about 3,000 words from the story's end. Why? I needed to invest a few hours in both activities, and between child transportation issues, an increase in activity in the day job, and electrical outages at the house, my writing time trickled away.
As part of The Fictorians, I state weekly goals, and my fellow writers hold me accountable for them. My goals use to be fairly lofty - you know 1,000 words or 2 hours of writing a night, submit three stories for publication. Well, I wasn't making those goals. Every night after the kids went to bed, I fought with myself. I knew I needed to put my butt in the seat (B.I.S.) and write. After all, if I didn't write, how was I going to finish my works in progress, much less get them published?
I needed to take a realistic look at my goals, time, and productivity and figure out how to fix the disconnect. The Get-It-Done Guy did a great podcast on avoiding procrastination. He recommends breaking large, daunting tasks down into 15 minute intervals of work a day, and if you miss a day, let it go. A few months ago, one of my fellow Fictorians took a similar approach to writing. Her writing goal was 250 words, about a page a day (1,750 words a week). I adopted this goal about two months ago. Two hundred and fifty words takes me about 15 minutes to write when the story and I aren't fighting.
Adopting this approach surprised me. I became more productive. Even dead exhausted, I could work on those 250 words. After all, it wouldn't take much time. What I found out was even when I struggled to get the first 100 done, the words came easier by the 200th. Most nights I average 750 words. I'll miss a few nights a week, but I'm still writing close to 3,000 words a week. I didn't dread writing or feel like I'd let myself down on those nights when I just couldn't write.
While 250 words a day doesn't sound like a lot, it's over 90,000 words, or roughly one novel, a year. Not shabby results for 15 minutes a day.
If you can't commit the time you want to writing, dedicate what you can. There's nothing wrong with inching toward success.

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