It used to be the bane of my existence as a writer. If I wrote five hundred words in a day, I was ecstatic. The first day I did a thousand, I vaguely remember being ridiculously pleased with myself. Only in the last few month did Scrivener and I crack the 5,000 words a day barrier. Last week there was a 6,000 word day. Paint me tickled pink.
Why am I thinking about this now?
Because a few hours ago I got a call back from a job interview and they gave me a verbal offer. Full time employment. With a daily commute totally three hours.
You might think after job searching for months and being in limbo for the past month since I landed in San Diego that I’d be kicking up my heels and rubbing my hands together at the idea of being gainfully employed again. Believe me, the idea of not living off the kindness of my grandmother without her really being comfortable with me contributing to household expenses is really, really good. Having health insurance after a trial period and other amenities, that is also on the side of good.
And I think I’ll like the people I’m working along side. Thank you to everyone who’s commented and encouraged me here, especially the one post where I discussed that horrible job interview!
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to loose any ground that I’ve made in the last four months as a writer, blogger and general contributor to this web of positive connections and thoughtful folks. I’d miss you guys, honestly.
So how am I going to do it?
First off, some of that new paycheck is going towards an editor. Seriously! Skere would have been out months ago if I could have paid someone else to catch typos. Knyght and I will talk. We’ll find a way. Anyone want the job? I have two books due out this summer.
Second, I’m commuting on a train, so hello baby, my laptop is coming along for the ride.
Third, weekends! Man, I love those two days at the end of the week. Everyone here, you’re very important to me and I’ll will be reaching for my keyboard to answer you each and every weekend at the very least! Also, Twitter, my iPhone and I may be making some committed threesomes, trying to stay connected.
Now, back to the basics. Skere, the novel I just released, was written largely at a Starbucks on lunch breaks over a five month period, while I was planning a wedding and working another job with a long commute. If Skere could be written under conditions like that, then Criminal, Pegasus King and Terms can also be written this year. Thank goodness Knyght and I haven’t given in to cute cuddly faces and had a kid yet. (And before anyone yells at me, I know babies grow up. I’m the oldest of eight and the last two called me mom for years. They thought they had two mothers. I’m still helping raise them. Think speed dial.)
In the little mentoring of other writers that I’ve done, word count and just getting something finished seems to be a huge challenge. And it is one that I am facing now, as I realize that before the end of this year, I want to have roughly 355,000 words written.
Watch me gulp at my own audacity. Until just now, I hadn’t actually tallied it up. But now that I’m doing some division, is doesn’t look quite so back. That’s less than 1,000 words a day. And most days, I can spit that many words out in about an hour. Some days are better, some worse. It sort of depends on if I can work without interruptions, earthquakes, serious health impediments or a sibling crisis. Life is what happens when you should be writing.
But, getting back to third grade math, that’s only 1,000 fiction words a day, with a few days off for national holidays to boot.
This might be doable.
Marketing may wait till next year, after I have a catalog to market, but I can accept that.
So here’s how this post isn’t all about me. Let’s talk about Productivity
In my opinion, productivity is 80 percent decision to do something and only 20 percent tips and tricks. But the tips and tricks really help fill in that last twenty percent.
Here’s the habits/tools that helped me crack my self-imposed wph (words per hour) limits:
2. Headphones and music. It takes me straight into the world where I left off, so start up time each session is next to nil. Stick with the same music for the same project.
3. Pick the same time of day or at least the same location and keep doing it. For me, it’s more often been a ritual. If I get coffee and put in my headphones, my brain knows I’m writing. No matter the time, place, country, day, weather, etc. Thank goodness you can get coffee and a plug practically everywhere!
There’s a few things to get rid of as well:
1. Anyone who looks at you and gives you that sad look like you’re mentally ill for writing but they don’t want to kill your puppy dream. DO NOT listen to them.
2. The idea that you need to be the next Stephen King. You’re going to be you. Thank goodness! If everyone was King then he wouldn’t be so special and neither would you!
I’ve saved the best for last. There’s one thing that was the game changer.
Permission to Fail
That’s it. Last year I told myself that one important thing. For the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to fail, spectacularly if I needed to.
It’s changed everything. That one decision enabled me to write Skere, and everything else that comes out recently from my fingers. I wrote it, I didn’t read back any of it at the time of writing and and I just kept writing, five or more days a week. Yes, there are thirteen thousand words I just chopped off the beginning and left behind. And yes, I stared at the keyboard for a good two or three minutes growling about that, but I did it when I realized it had to be done. There was coffee gulping involved and angst music listening afterwards. Definitely not the worst thing that’s happened to me.
This decision to allow myself to fail, even in little ways is a decision that’s bled out into the rest of my life.
Have I failed yet? Well, my husband and I are sleeping on the floor of my grandmother’s house, carless and without health insurance right now, so possibly in some people’s book, we have. On the other hand, I started this post with a job offer, so obviously, failure can be a temporary state and sometimes, I do believe we have to pass through it.
Failing is freaking miserable. There are some things I would never want to gamble. But I’m more afraid of never even having the possibility of being happy or succeeding than I am of crashing on my face at this point.
I know many of you reading this are working and pursing your own interests. How do you do it? What’s your key to unlocking the fear? To staying the course? To actually producing what you need to be doing to follow that passion?