Then I take a good look at what's on my "To Do" list. A business meeting for my day job. An evening volunteer meeting at church. Time to exercise. Phone calls and cards due to family to arrange upcoming visits for the weekend and to send birthday wishes. Inventory and monthly accounting due for my contracting work. Figuring out what to take to a potluck dinner set for tomorrow night with friends. And a sinus headache throbbing insistently right under my cheek bone.
Now I'm whining. Why? Because my expectations of what I can accomplish in 16 waking hours far exceeds reality. Because I haven't put my fiction writing at the top of my priorities. Because I haven't yet figured out what I'm giving up to grant fiction writing the time and space I'd like it to have. And because my face hurts.
What's the point?
Among working fiction writers, only a small percentage count monies from writing as their sole source of income on tax returns. For the majority of us, fiction writing is a second income stream, not the primary one, not the one that pays the bills. For unpublished writers, there's only income potential. So for the majority of us fiction writers, we are constantly juggling roles and responsibilities, pushing less important activities aside, making value judgments on a daily basis to wedge open writing time. We face writer's frustration.
Well. I can push and juggle some of the To Do's around. But my original writing plan for 3 uninterrupted hours is shot. I need Plan B. I'm falling back on a short article written by Bill O'Hanlon for Writer's Digest in February 2008 entitled "Baby Steps". He says:
- Focus on the smallest piece of the task; work on a piece
- Spend 15 minutes writing one page, 5 times a week
- Divide the project up into bite-sized chunks; tackle a chunk
The proposal will not get done today, but in 30 minutes I can rewrite the prologue from notes I took last week. One chunk done.
Baby Steps, my friends. Baby Steps.