It’s been ages since I sat down to write a post for my writers blog. I think about this website all the time. After all, this is more me than Relentless: it has my name on it. I should be working on it regularly, pimping myself, polishing myself. But I don’t, I let it slide.
My problem, in a nutshell, is that I lack discipline.
This isn’t probably something I should admit to in public, not when one of the goals of shannonmeyerkort.com is to showcase my work and abilities as a writer to potential employers and publishers.
But another goal of this blog is to be upfront and honest about life as a writer: its failings and its unmentionables. Writing is a hard slog, often with few tangible rewards.
I am halfway through a Post-graduate Diploma of Professional Writing at Curtin University. I undertake a single unit a semester so that I may still have time for my other writing and more importantly, be there for my children. During term, most of my writing time tends to be focussed on my university assignments. Other writing, such as Relentless and my articles over at WeekendNotes tend to suffer.
And then I reach that point. For this unit, that point is about 3,300 words into a 5,000 word essay. The wall.
It’s not writers block. I know what I need to write, and how to finish the essay. It’s just rather than sitting down and completing it – as a disciplined writer would – I am now procrastinating. I have done more loads of washing in the past fortnight than in the previous month. I have been dreaming up more inventive articles over at WN. I am playing with the plot to a new children’s story.
Anything rather than write the one thing I am meant to be writing.
I read once that the difference between an amateur writer and a professional writer is that a professional writes every day. I also remember reading that if you want to be a real novelist, you should write at least 100 words every single day, whether you want to or not.
Part of the reason of attending uni is that I am forced to write in new genres, about new topics and for new audiences, with a deadline.
It is the deadline that keeps me moving. Keeps me honest. Last November I wrote over 18,000 words of my novel for NaNoWriMo. Since then I only have penned around 500.
500 words in 10 months.
Someone told me today that unlike paid work or commissioned writing (or university assignments) there are no consequences if I do not write a post for my blogs every day. There are no repercussions if I do not finish my novel. No one else suffers for lack of my craft, except for me.
So, I appeal to you: how do you make yourself write? Do you set yourself targets or do you make timetables? How can I restructure the way I work so that I am more disciplined in my approach?
Because I obviously need some help.
3 thoughts on “The Wall”
An excellent question.
Unfortunately my answer is this: I don’t have the faintest clue. Still trying to work it out myself. And planning to do NaNoWriMo again this year, despite the fact that my calendar for November is stupidly overflowing already.
Here’s my ramble on this…….
It can be challenging. Setting clear writing goals for the month, week and every morning helps, but no doubt you already know this. Prioritise the writing (make it more important). Change your internal dialogue. Your subconscious and conscious mind are saying the washing is more important than the writing, so you do the washing. I think it is about convincing yourself that writing a certain amount of words according to your schedule is tremendously important and far more important than washing, cleaning, cooking, even a toilet trip -which can all wait. 🙂
I will say however, that people in general do underestimate the difficulty of literally chaining oneself to the computer to write for hours or days on end. It is difficult, but if it were easy everyone would be doing it. That is the point. You have to do what everyone else is not prepared to do or not able to do -push past the barriers one step at a time.
In answer to another one of your questions, I do set myself schedules/timetables and find them essential for being disciplined. The consequences of not completing them – I don’t sleep well and feel like something major is missing, it’s horrible. Set writing schedules by the words or the time and stick like glue to them! Just make sure that you only set schedules you can realistically stick to though.
PS GOOD LUCK! 🙂
If you get a routine happening say get up 4 am and meditate for 2 hours daily
like my beautiful friend Norma.She is a saint.Speaking from personal experience us mortals could probably get up 30-40 mins earlier each day.Then I think that the same principle would apply to your work.
They say it takes 30 days to establish a new habit.So whether it be you make yourself a cuppa
after putting on the laundry and making a conscious decision to sit and write for half an hour to start with.Then go do your chores eg,hang out the laundry,start the day make breakfast for your kiddies and promise yourself at a set time say after lunch or while babies are napping not to do anymore jobs until you have given the writing a fair go for another session.Probably 40min blocks would suffice(that’s how long any human can concentrate for in one sitting )and followup with a reward like watching your fave show for 30 mins or reading the paper sitting out in the sun or even painting your nails.If not feasible make fresh tea or coffee to have while you write.I am having fruit cake and tea as I leave this comment.My girlfriend is writing her first novel and takes herself off to a coffee shop with her laptop.She stays for a couple of hours.It’s just about changing your mindset.I am sure you will succeed.Like Pavlov’s dog you will salivate just imagining having your alone time-You,Your thoughts-no kids and your laptop and freshly brewed coffee or tea.Hey, I just had a brainwave do your weekendnotes thing-as you review the place.Stay and tell them you are doing free advertising.If you write something nice-they might even give you free beverages.Having been an expert at the art of procrastination for much of my life-in the end-‘Just do it ‘ like Nike says
Hope this helps