Editing takes time. It also eats into creative time that might be better spent. There needs to be a balance in my writing life that allows for me to explore both. Finding this is not easy.
I recently read a post about writing process by a writer I greatly admire for her verve and courage – given that she attempted, and succeeded, to write a novel a month in 2012. And it got me wondering about my own writing routine. Now, I’m lucky to only work part-time – but unlucky in that the reason for this is because I now have a disability called M.E. – but I get to spend some of my spare days writing.
In order to be productive I have had to get to know my routines. Thus, I know that trying to be creative in the afternoon will only lead to frustration with the inner critic because I’m tired and more likely to be suffering a post-lunch coma. I book-end my days with walking the dog – straight after breakfast and then again late afternoon – meaning I have at least two hours both in the AM and PM to spend on writerly pursuits.
Morning is my best time. Not the “can’t keep my eyes awake and want to smash the alarm” type of early: I really did try The Artist’s Way on that one but just ended up being exhausted. I prefer that late-morning glow having settled into my day after a walk in nature and having let my thoughts percolate for a while. Typically I can get a couple of hours of writing done any time between 10am and 1pm.
Afternoons…These I reserve for blog writing and editing. I’m much more critical once I have a post-lunch haze. All I really want to do is curl up on the sofa to nap, and woe betide any words that get in the way! Being accountable here online helps to motivate me in the blog post department. I encourage myself by promising I can have 15m of ‘down time’ (read: meditation) after I’m done writing said post.
This routine has served me pretty well over the last six months or so. Generally speaking, I tend to catch-up with my favourite blogs over breakfast, speed read through Twitter a couple of times a day and devour any interesting articles as a reward for my afternoon tasks.
However, I think I’ve become a little too comfortable. Things aren’t really getting done. I am not making progress the way I would like. Balancing the desire to improve my writing self along with life, a job, a dog, a partner (with kids) and my M.E. is challenging – mainly because of that last, tiny, little issue. If I ramp things up too fast, then I slow down. A lot.
I want to go all in. I want to throw myself into the possibility of writing. But I can’t. I have to take it slow. I have to have balance. I can’t suddenly decide to spend 8hrs on my days off solidly writing and editing with breaks only to walk the dog and eat a hurried lunch. This would result in catastrophe for me – a debilitating, painful kind of catastrophe. I have to be sensible – as should we all.
So, a shift in focus is what I’m putting in place:
Mornings will be spent being creative for competitions, submissions, possibilities for publication. I will dive in feet first and land, eventually (hopefully), standing tall.
Afternoons shall be reserved for blog posts and the editing of a chapter of the novel and/or a piece for submission. Nothing too taxing, lest I stumble and fall.
Short term goals and long term desires need to be spread evenly and equally. I don’t want to spend more than three ‘sessions’ on any one short piece for submission in case I get too bogged down in it. Hopefully this will work.
This will be the balance that will help me achieve all that I set out to do. Not all at once, not all together, not all in – but cautiously, patiently and diligently. I’m going to keep moving forward and hope my explorations yield results. *fingers crossed*