Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Writer's Frustration

I woke this morning with great plans. I would write this blog, then dive into a fiction proposal that was requested by an editor. I'm all excited.

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 For unpublished writers, there's only income potential.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.


Sandy Cody said...

Thank you, thank you, LaVerne! Your babysteps advice is exactly what I needed right now. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

Zelda Benjamin said...

I agree with Sandy. I need a constant reminder to focus and take baby steps when I'm not moving in the direction I'd like to.

Elisabeth Rose said...

So true, Laverne.
I haven't written more than about 300 words on my wip in the last few days but I have been thinking about my characters and where I've left them stranded--at a party.

And I have organised my tax (ugggh) ready to see my accountant next Monday, kept my teaching schedule going, sent off 2 agent queries, met a friend for coffee and sold some of my books to her :), organised the final production and delivery of a short story anthology for RWAust to be launched at our conference this weekend. Plus played tennis, shopped for groceries, washed, dusted, vacuumed, changed bedlinen,
prepared meals, supported my husband through a torrid time at work which has now been very happily resolved, and went to a subscription concert.

Gee!!! I must be superwoman LOL We ALL are.

Kathye Quick said...

I needed that poke and advice. I'm stuck on a chapter for my next book to Chlsea. Now if I can't do 3 pages a daym, I'll try to do at least one when I'm blocked.


LaVerne St. George said...

My motto is to keep moving forward, even if progress slow. Making progress on a piece of writing or in your life's most important goals is a good thing. Superwoman, Elizabeth?! Ha! That's what we TRY to be. Maybe we should get over the "super" complex and get better at setting boundaries for ourselves.

Advice from "Finding Nemo": Keep on swimming. Keep on swimming. Swimming, swimming. I'll add: swim in the right direction and eventually, you'll get there.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Your life sounds like mine. I go to bed with a well-laid plan for the next day's schedule, but life manages to get in the way. Aaah, the life of a writer. Great post!!

Tessa McDermid said...

The baby steps idea helps. I've always worked hard at treating my writing as if it were my 'day job.' That is, if I were asked by any of my former bosses to find two hours for a meeting, what would I do? I'd find the hours. So, I'm trying to do that more with my writing.

I color-code my date book with red (for my passion!) around the times that I'll write each week and that's that. Of course, family may impede progress here and there but mostly, they know Mom's writing time is Mom's writing time. The bigger challenge is that I have to then sit down in the chair and write during those times! Not let other things get in my way.

Edna said...

When I was young and the children was at home I did not have enought hours in the day to get everything done, now I am 66 all the children are gone, grandkids are in college and I can't find anything to do. I get do borned, as I am not able to walk a lot because of back, legs and feet, so I like to do things with my hands or on the embroidery machine, but no one wants what I make so what is the reason to do this, so here I sit borded to dealth, I read a lot of blogs and hurt book contest to enter.

May God Bless