Midway through last year, I scribbled down a few rules for myself. They’ve been on my desk ever since and seem to be working, last year was one of my best for total output.
As it’s time for resolutions, I’m sharing them in case they prove helpful to anyone else:
1. Don’t check e-mail or start surfing anywhere
In other words, remove all distractions. Implied in this is setting up a regular time to write. I had done a good job of the first, but my focus was never there. Recently I took this rule one step further and removed the internet connection from the computer where I write. After sitting and staring at the ceiling for a while, I get bored… so I write.
2. Get up earlier, which means go to bed earlier
I used to be able to sleep four hours, then get up and write. No more, now if I want to get up at 6 a.m. and spend a couple of hours writing anything coherent, I need to be in bed by 10 p.m.
3. Don’t stay so late at work
I have a day job, and I’m both good at it and get a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment from it. But that doesn’t mean I need to be my overachiever self and the last person out of there each night.
4. Get a dishwasher, yard service, and house cleaning service
Aside from the dishwasher, this one hasn’t happened yet. But the point is still there. If writing is the priority, then the house and yard can wait.
5. Go food shopping no more than once per week
Basically I’m trying to take less time on all the “life maintenance” stuff. I’m thinking about revising this one and shifting my food shopping online.
6. Friday night is another school night
If Saturday morning is some of my best time available for writing then Friday night is another work night. Celebrating the end of the week with everyone else needs to wait one more night.
7. Delete solitaire
I posted about this before, but yup, nuff said.
8. Write 100 words before you get your first cup of coffee
This one was also touched on in my earlier post. It’s a bit too draconian for me right now, but good to use as a threat if the words stop flowing.
9. Always leave off at a place where it’s easy to start the next day
This is a great tip that I picked up from a writer–whose name I can’t recall–far more wise and experienced than I am. If I’m a few lines off from finishing a scene I leave it, then it’s easy to come back in and get the story rolling. Inertia can work in favor of as well as against writing.
10. Join a critique group
I haven’t done this one yet either, but do have a group of writer friends whose feedback on my work is invaluable. I’m fortunate to have found some stellar first readers.
When I’m sitting there in the morning telling myself that I’m wasting my time, no one will ever care about what I’m scribbling, none of it matters, another voice now comes into my overcrowded brain and tells that first voice to shut up. Deep breath… believe.