Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: writer’s block

Deadlines

My colleagues and I meet weekly to go over whatever we’re working on, and what we’d like critique feedback on. Initially, when I started going to a critique group, it was not fun. Not at all. I got lucky, though. I found another group, with a really focused and strong leader, and equally focused and strong members. Everyone’s supportive. It’s such an amazing thing to go somewhere every week where people are excited when you are, and commiserate and offer ideas when you have had a challenging week.

We all have projects we’re working on. Every one of us has a self-imposed deadline. Until I really started writing, I didn’t understand the importance of setting a deadline for yourself.

When you think about being successful as an author, in my thoughts, anyway, you think about having your work sought after and deadlines imposed by your agent/editor/publisher. This is all true, but what you don’t often read about is that you must, absolutely must, set deadlines for yourself. You have to, in my opinion, plot out your plans for writing.

This means you have to look at the next month, the next three months. What do you want to have accomplished? Finishing your work in progress, getting it copy edited, rewriting – what? What do you want, no, what do you NEED to get accomplished?

For me, it got all kinds of real when I looked at the rest of 2014. I have a deadline that looms for…tomorrow! And then another two for the end of August, and one for September. Within those four deadlines, I have a number of smaller deadlines. I had to make a list in order to keep all of them straight. Oddly enough making the list allowed me to take a breath and stop the rising panic at the thought of all I need to get done.

So to continue the tips to get the writing flowing, take an hour this week, and plot out your writing plans for this month. The next three months. The rest of the year. Add in getting things read by your beta readers, and edited.

If it seems too large, reign it in. Bring down the timeline to a shorter period. And focus on meeting your deadlines, one at a time. Not because someone is breathing over your shoulder. Because you know what needs to be done with your work, both by you and by your support system.

Go on. Go set your goals and a deadline for meeting them.

Rebooting the writing…thing.

So what a shift from the last time I was posting! It’s amazing – before I was married with kids, I worked two jobs, usually six days a week. (As a recreational activities instructor, your day job is awesome, but the pay is not. A second job, usually restaurant oriented, is required.) I thought, and I remember this, how hard can married/parent life be? (Stop laughing.) One job, your husband is a team player and a partner in the hellish list of chores, and you come home from work and get it all done in a jiffy! Pretty sure, although I wouldn’t have admitted it then, I also saw the birds from either Snow White or Cinderella flitting through with ribbons.

That is SO not the case! My husband is totally a team player, and a great partner. Yet there are some days we both come home and don’t care that the kids want cereal for dinner, or that there is not a representative from the fruit and veg category on the menu that evening. I should feel like a bad parent (or as we call it in my house, MOTY/FOTY – short for Mother Of The Year/Father Of The Year). I’m usually too spent to muster the energy for that much guilt.

I still have a day job, and it’s not writing, sadly. I actually love my day job, and it’s both demanding and rewarding. My kids are demanding and rewarding. They’re kind of a day job, too.

So where does writing fit into all this? Well, late in the evening, when everyone has settled, and the kitchen is tidied. When my brain is still going, even though I know I have to get up to hit the grocery store tomorrow morning. We’re low on jelly, and that doesn’t fly at lunch time.

It’s hard, though. My head, up until the last week, has been full of what I’m working on right now. I got, finally, something to replace my 47 pound dinosaur of a laptop, a Surface tablet with the fun light up keyboard. Which means I take my writing with me. I have to mention, the last purse I bought was purchased with being able to carry the Surface around in it.

So if I’m stuck somewhere waiting on something (like the vet’s office for the mysteriously sick senior kitty) I pull it out and work. I have a running doc just for ideas. It’s invigorating! I’m pulling all the little minutes I can to work and ease that cracked out hamster in my head.

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. I was reading in one of my forums a post from a mom who just can’t find the time to write, and I remember thinking, I get that. I totally get that. It’s why I’ve gotten crafty in my pursuit of time to get stuff out of my head into some written form.

Something else that motivated me as well was finding the right critique group. I used to go to one that met twice a month. It never felt amazing or creative, or any of the things I’ve heard from other writers about their groups. Then I met the group leader of my current group, and gave her group a try. It felt like the difference between night and day. The members write in different genres, are all passionate, and all enjoy helping one another. We meet weekly, and I’ve missed it for two weeks due to summer stuff. Boy, do I miss it.

So if you’re struggling, just find a way to squeeze it in. Easier said than done, initially. For me, the kick in the pants was getting a work station, so to speak, that I didn’t need a sherpa to carry around for me. I still have my dino HP. I need to transfer a bunch of documents from it to the new one. It still weighs 47 pounds. LOL, not even my kids want it, because it’s an older model than theirs. But in thinking about it, working with that thing was a weight in more ways than one.

Once I cast off the weight, so to speak, and became more flexible in what “work time” could mean, I got more productive. Then I surrounded myself with really great creative energy, and the brain and output has increased tremendously. So if you’re struggling, and I was for a time, look at what your weights are. What is it that slows your progress, or puts roadblocks up, figure it out.  That in and of itself can take a few days.  Then find ways to either remove the roadblock, or get around it.  Either one will work.  Whatever takes less energy and allows you more time to write, or do whatever it is that fills you creatively.

Because even though putting One. More. Thing. Into my schedule fills my schedule up even further, I am happier.  Happier that I’ve made time in my life for something that is just mine.  Don’t we all want that?

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