Creating a Writing Habit – Part 2
As per my commitment to you in Creating a Writing Habit – Part 1, I am reporting in with my progress over the past week and a bit. I have learnt a few things about myself, my habits and my writing. I have learnt if I promise to sit down every day at 1pm to write for an hour, I will create every possible excuse to avoid it. I had an appointment at 1.15pm one day and I didn’t reschedule. I know I should have. I told myself it would be too hard to change it to another time, would have to wait too long, may not be able to get another one. On the plus side, I felt guilty enough to sit down and do my hour of writing later the same day. And my appointment was a better excuse than the day I ‘really’ had to get the gunk out from under my toenails and then hang the kids clothes on the washing line. I assure you, both were high priorities at exactly one o’clock.
Although I failed at the ‘exact’ time of day to sit down some of the time, I definitely achieved more writing this week than I have for a while. I completed six one-hour sessions, which considering I had some mood challenges during this time, is a good achievement. This is progress. I am evolving. I’m not focussing too much on the numbers yet, as I explained in my last post. This month is all about getting my bum in the seat.
I am finding it easier to get started each session as I become more consistent with my writing practice. I remind myself I am allowed to write a crappy first draft. I turn off my internal editor, along with the Wi-Fi. I go to the toilet, get a glass of water and set a timer on my phone for one hour. I then put the phone out of reach. I open Scrivener and go to the Chapter I was working on. I open it to full screen (excellent to avoid distractions) and away I go. I find myself getting antsy about the half-way mark and whenever I check, my timer is always around thirty minutes. I resist the urge to visit the fridge, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Standing up and stretching for a minute or two helps.
If something requires further research, I put ???? to prompt me when I’m revising. I don’t want to stop the flow of the story because I know I will spend hours doing research on something which impacts one line. It can usually wait until the first draft is finished, unless it is integral to the story.
I have found the characters of my novel starting to inhabit my non-writing time. They pop up in the shower for a chat and I think about them while I’m washing dishes (Okay, stacking the dishwasher, let’s be real). I have also started to remember…I love writing. I called my blog Mummylovestowrite and this was no accident. ‘Forcing’ myself to write regularly has made me wonder why I procrastinate at all. Today, I couldn’t wait for the kids to go for their nap so I could sit down and write. After I did, I felt peaceful for the first time all day. When I’ve missed days, I feel dissatisfied and generally annoyed because at my core, I want to write this book.
I need to get out of my own way.
For the next few weeks, I will keep working on my goal of 6 x 1 hour sessions per week. When the next calendar month starts, I will continue with this habit, but I will also assign stricter word count goals. I do have a loose word count goal for this month, however I’m just trying to keep the focus on turning up. I figure if I keep doing this, the words will come. And they are.
A final note about backing up your work. I had a laptop hard-drive shit itself on me years ago. I didn’t have any backups and lost everything. I now save my novel on the computer, a USB (the one pictured) and email myself (and hubby) a copy. I do the emailing whenever I have completed a significant chunk of work. I find this system works for me and is reassuring. I suppose I could print it out - wouldn’t that be a ‘novel’ approach. Boom tish. The kids are going to LOVE the Mum jokes when they get older. Seriously though, who wants to type it out again, even if you have a hard copy? Not me.
What writing habits work for you?