A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how I was taking up running. Well, that plan got a bit derailed as I became extremely sick after my birthday party. Some might say I imbibed a bit too much, but whatever. J It was me birthday and I was determined to have a good time. I did.
That said, I did have to postpone the start of my "run two miles in eight weeks" program that I handily picked up on the internet. I'm all about programs and this one seems fairly easy to follow. If anyone is interested, here's the link.
So, though I am a bit late, I did get started this week. The first couple of days should be fairly easy – walking. Who can't walk for thirty minutes? Granted, I decided to take my dogs on this first go round, which probably wasn't the wisest decision. Two terriers in search of various scents that jerk their owner this way and that isn't exactly the best way to raise the heart rate. Not when you're stopping every other minute so one can lift a leg to a tree or a particularly good patch of grass. But I digress.
On this runner's site, they had a link to a handy dandy list of "seven steps to successful weight loss." I've got a bit of insomnia this morning, so I was clicking around, reading this and that. This list really struck me for some reason. Oh, I've heard all these things before… but for some reason, it brought on a bit of inspiration for today's post. I've decided to do a writing version.
Therefore, may I present Jen's Seven Steps to A Successful Writing Career.
Ahem, I say this like I've reached some level of success. But notwithstanding my amateur ranking in this particular field, I do think these steps are great things to keep in mind.
- Be Accountable. Oh how this one hurts. It hurts because it hits right to the core of things. The truth is, if you haven't finished that book you've been meaning to write for the past 5 years… if you've been stuck at the same road block for however long… IT IS YOUR FAULT. Oh ouch. Yeah. Not pleasant, eh? But unfortunately, it's true. We can go on making excuses, but in the end, WE are the ones in control of our own lives. If we really want to write, by God we'll find a way to do it. Making excuses, blaming our busy lives for getting in the way… well, in the end, that's never going to get you to where you want to go. Stop making excuses and get the job done.
- Take Control. Be proactive rather than reactive. I think it's very easy to let a bad day convince us that we don't need to write. Heck, isn't it so much easier to go read a book written by someone else than it is to slave over our own writing? Especially when you're tired…you've had a bad day…you're maybe not feeling particularly enthusiastic over your chances of ever finishing…becoming published…getting that stellar agent you want. I mean, I know the last thing I want to do after receiving a particularly harsh rejection from someone I REALLY wanted, is to write. In fact, I usually feel like complete poo when that happens. But the reality is that we're all going to run up against stumbling blocks that life throws in our way. We can choose to wallow in self-doubt and inactivity…or we can get our butts in chair and make things happen.
- Be Flexible. Sometimes I think we get really caught up in the whole idea that we must write this many words/pages…whatever.. each day and that if we come up short, WE HAVE FAILED. Well, poo. I've been caught up in this cycle many a time…and I have to say that although I can stick to a strict regimen for a while, I usually burn out after a short period of time. In a way, writing starts to become more of a chore when I know I MUST sit down and produce X amount of words. Sometimes, it just ain't gonna happen, no matter what I do to coax myself. That's okay. Perhaps I would be better off spending time away from my writing…doing research…reading a good book that might light the creative fire again… Just because I take a day off, doesn't mean I can't work towards my goal in another way.
- Be Consistent. This follows straight from number three. While sometimes we must be flexible in our writing schedules, we must also TRY to be consistent in our work habits. Writing is like any other muscle. If we lay off exercise for a day or two, we're likely going to be able to get right back into our routine with relatively little trouble. Take a couple of weeks off, though, and I'm betting it's going to hurt a lot when you try to get back in the groove. You may not even be able to do it right off. Therefore, it's more important that you try to come to work every day…even if only for a short period of time. It keeps your writing muscles well maintained and ready for the long haul.
- Do It Now. Oh how this rule hits home with me. How many times have you told yourself: This week isn't really a good week to get back to my wip. I have so much going on… I won't be able to REALLY devote myself to it the way I want. Perhaps it would be better to start next week instead. *rolls eyes* I can't tell you the number of times I've been through this song and dance with myself. Well, folks. It's CRAP. All of it. There will never be a "good" time to squeeze in your writing – especially with the busy lives we all lead. Stop making excuses and realize that even small, baby steps are better than no steps at all. Stop putting things off. Get off your keister (or in this case…get your keister into a chair) and start writing now.
- Think Long Term. A book is not going to write itself overnight. There is the first draft…there is the second draft… there are numerous rounds of revisions. Then there's finding an agent and which means the whole process begins all over again. And then there's finding an editor which brings on another round of massive changes. Writing a book is not an overnight thing. Get out of that mind frame of "I have to get this done within the next year" and all that other BS we tell ourselves. Publishing is a SLOW industry… enjoy the ride. It's going to be a long one.
- Set Reasonable Goals. This again, follows from the above rule. Be honest with yourself about how much you can get done in any period of time. Perhaps you can spew out 5K of pure awesomeness every day. YAY for you. Most of us, however, can't do that. And pushing ourselves to match that kind of productivity just might burn us out or get us shipped off to the loony bin. Be reasonable when you set your goals. Maybe you can only manage a page or two a day. But if you're consistent with that page or two a day, just think how quickly you'll get to the end. It's okay to go at a slow and steady pace. Remember the turtle and the rabbit. J
Okay…that's what I've got for today. These running analogies just never get old with me. What other tips do you have?