This Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for this blog. It has given me the courage to make my writing public, something I have never done before. It has forced me to stick to a writing schedule. I’ve posted every Monday and Thursday, except for a few misses here and there, since April. It has pushed me and even gotten me to believe in myself as a writer. Amazingly, people actually read what I write, and some even comment on it and “like” it.
However, since school started this fall, blogging has taken a huge chunk of my precious writing time during the work week. During the week, I’ve focused on my blog posts, and then I work on my novel on the weekends. I’ve turned into a weekend warrior writer, and its killing me. So far this fall, I’ve had a 10,000 word weekend, a 6000 word weekend, and a 4000 word weekend. I realize for those participiting in NaNo, this is nothing, but for me, they are exhausting weekends. While I’ve learned that I can produce in large chunks, I have also learned that I don’t necessarily like to.
After I have a “writing warrior” weekend, I take a break from my novel as I’m drained, and I tend focus on blogs, mine and everyone elses, all week. This is a problem because my intended little break turns into a big break, and then I need a super productive weekend to maintain my goals and my vicious cycle starts all over again. I’ve decided that it would be much better for me to write on my novel a little bit each day rather than in giant, draining chunks.
This past weekend I didn’t get much written at all because I kept thinking I MUST write 8000 words. I got completely overwhelmed with that amount, so I didn’t writing anything.
Yesterday afternoon as I was not writing and distracting myself with activities related to writing, I was reading an article in Poets & Writers Magazine by best-selling author Ellen Sussman titled “Four Steps to Higher Productivity.” Yes, I note the irony here. Unfortunately the article is not available online as it’s a great piece. She offers four steps to increasing writing productivity. They are:
- Do ten minutes of pre-writing meditation to clear your mind of distractions.
- Block the internet – it is NOT ALLOWED during writing time. Research time is different than writing time. The internet is a major distraction for me, so I think this one will be helpful.
- Write in 45 minute chunks and then take a mandatory 15 minute break before writing again, even if you’re on a roll. As a full time writer, she is able to repeat this cycle three times a day, five-six days a week. I can’t imagine having the time to write for three hours uninterrupted each day, but I can try for smaller chunks.
- Write daily. I try to write every day, but there are days when I don’t or I just focus on my blog and never write a word on my novel. I need to be focusing on my big project at this point, and I need to focus on it every single day, not just on weekend marathon writing sessions.
I am going to experiment over the next few weeks and try her four steps. The first step I am going to take will be to limit my blogging to once a week, each Thursday, with the occasional Monday. I want to focus on getting my novel done.
Hopefully, her steps will help me do that. I will let you know how it goes.