Recover and Reset

I had planned on taking a break from novel writing over the Summer. I had home projects planned. I had visions of spending lots of time at the pool, hiking, and gardening and hanging out with my kids. I had planned on some promotion and marketing of my novel, Sum of the Whole,  set to release on June 19th

But then my mom had some serious health issues, and then this happened:

 My kiddo tumbled off the pirate ship. Surgery, two pins and one hot pink cast later I needed to change my ideas about summer.  Heartrending? Yes. Stressful? Yes. Overwhelming? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Anxiety level off the charts? Yes. So I did the thing I always do when I don’t know what thing I should do next, and want some imaginary control over my life. I wrote.

 I wrote an outline while my mom was in the hospital.

The day after my daughter got home from the hospital I started writing my next novel.

I’ve left the deadline the original one that I set when I had planned out my summer and work projects. I don’t expect to finish writing it this summer, but when I sit down in the Fall when the kids go back to school I will be a bit ahead of schedule. It also gives me a sense of accomplishing something on those days I feel stuck.

My advice when life veers off the expected trajectory, take time to recover and reset.  Do the thing that grounds you, the thing that makes the rest of the world fall away even if it is just for an hour. Do that. And remember this:

“Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu 

 

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Slow But Steady: Any Progress is Progress

I love this turtle because he helps me to remember that no matter how slow you are moving, if you keep moving you will get there. Through kids being sick, through family illness, through birth, death, and all of life’s messy bits, and most of all through your own inability to focus, if you keep moving you will reach your destination. Remember this when you are frustrated with your creative output: keep going.

I had a short fiction piece accepted this week for publication in an upcoming anthology. My kids think it is pretty awesome that I’m going to have a story in “a chapter book”, and so do I.   I’m not going to go into how long it has been since I had a piece published, or how many rejections proceeded this acceptance, or how many times I have submitted manuscripts, because none of it matters. The point of this post is this: all those days that I squeezed in fifteen minutes of writing made a difference. Not giving up is what matters. If you quit writing, it is impossible to get anything published.

I will confess to struggling mightily in the warm months to stick to my writing schedule. The lure of outside kicks my ADHD into high gear. After a winter of being inside all I want to do is play. My kids are home in the summer time, and that cuts into my writing time as well. I have some ways of dealing with kids at home and last year I posted some tips for sticking to your writing schedule when your kids are out of school, and you can read them here .

Even if you take some writing breaks over the summer, make it productive, read that To Be Read Pile, collect photographs, experiences, and memories to feed your writing later.

Most of all don’t give up, if you keep writing you will finish. Just keep moving. If you can only write one sentence, write a sentence. Like snowflakes it will add up. It may take years for you to accomplish what others accomplish in a month, it is okay, just keep writing.

Stick with it. Keep going, don’t quit, enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Writer’s block? I don’t have time for that.

Age: One Day
This is how old my kids were when I started writing my thesis.
This is how old they were when I finished.
At the celebration lunch.

You did it Mom!

One year.  Did I mention that we moved out of state, and went on a trip that lasted a month? It was crazy hard, and sometimes I don’t know how I did it.

I do know that I created some rituals and routines to keep my words flowing. I had a deadline. I could not wait until I felt like writing, or was inspired. Writer’s block was just not an option.
I found that creating small rituals helped me focus when I did have time to write. When I talk about rituals, I am talking about little things that reminded me that I was at the keyboard for a reason. Here are some tips to help you stay on track and keep your writing project going.

1. Use every second. Work when you can. Even if it is only for thirty minutes, it will add up.

Yep, I worked every time they napped.

2. Always take five minutes at the end of your work session to make a note to yourself about what you need to write, or accomplish the next time you work. This saves time when get back to writing, and keeps the project moving forward.

3. Keep your project materials together. Searching for materials wastes time, and distracts you from writing.

4. Find a way to organize your notes and materials that works for you. Once you find a way, stick with it until the end of the project. If you are tempted to stop work to reorganize, resist. Reorganizing is a huge waste of time. If you want to try a different method, save it for the next project.

5. Write, even when you don’t feel like writing, when you want to quit, when you are sick and tired, and would rather do anything else. Keep going.

6. Ask for help when you need it. I had a babysitter once a week for six hours. I did not go to the grocery store, do laundry, sleep or any of the hundred other things that needed to be done. Guard your work time.

7. If you work with music on, create a playlist that you use for all your work sessions for your project. Music can help shift your mood, and stimulate your writing. My playlist was called “Write the MotherF*$^er”.  I still use it.

8.  Make yourself accountable to someone. If you are in school, this would be your advisor. If you are working on your own, find a critique group or writing partner.

9. Do not point a baby you just fed at your research notebook. This is a bonus tip. I was cleaning out my project files last week  and I found my thesis research notebook. It still smells faintly of baby vomit.

10. Believe. Believe in your project. Believe in your ability.

I believe in you. Get to work.

Writing with Kids: Seven Tips to Keep Your Writing Schedule on Track

Pond 2014

Summer is my favorite time of year.  I love being in the garden, playing with my kids, hiking and cooking out. I really love not having to get the kids up and out for school in the morning. The down side of Summer is trying to make sure that I meet my writing goals.  In addition to everyday distractions, out of town guests, vacations, and kids at home make it difficult to keep a regular writing schedule. There are so many more shiny objects to deal with in Summer!

These are my seven tips to keep you writing over the Summer.

1. Change your schedule, get up before the kids, or stay up after they go to bed.

2. Barter with them: leave me alone to write for one hour, or set a timer for younger kids, and then we can play a game/ go to the pool/ etc.

3. Use family trips for research, take notes for current or future works.

4. Save Summer for edits. I find it easier to fix things than write new words when I have short bits of time.

5. Treat your writing like a job, because it is.  Explain to your family that you have to write for a certain time each day.

6. Establish a quiet time each day, use it as your writing time. Having a set time each day for reading, drawing, painting, or other quiet creative activity is good for everyone. If your kids have summer reading for school, or as part of a library summer reading program this is great way to help them meet their goals

7. Don’t give up! Something is better than nothing, use the time you have to get words written.

Finally, don’t stress. Give yourself permission to have smaller writing goals, and have fun. Summer only happens once a year, and if you have kids, they are only kids once.