22 February 2014

From the Trenches: Sacrificing for the Writing Life

I did two things today that really sucked.

#1—I turned off the wi-fi on my computer.

#2—I turned down not one, but TWO invitations to see good friends I haven’t seen in months.


Because I need to finish writing a book. And, because, sadly, my life isn’t perfect. Even with a two-book deal, life is still life, you know? I have two kids to look after and take care of. (Thank goodness it’s sunny and warm today and they’re both outside. Yes, even the one with the broken leg. I sent him outside, too.) I have a family that needs me. I have a full-time job and a three-hour daily commute. Now, I have a deadline. 
Yet, my time spent writing is slim to none.

If I have the energy to write when I get home from work (and that’s a big IF) after the boys get dinner and go to bed, I’ve got about a solid hour before my mind is mush and the words coming out of my fingers to my keyboard end up looking like:

Fjfemejfjafdlkjf jrejek fjdfjelifj  afd.feje;  fdafkefjioe.  Not really a best-seller in the making, you know?

Weekends? Not much better. The boys want to play, the house needs to be cleaned, the hubby has to work overtime. And me? I get to grade all the papers I’ve neglected during the week. I’ve got 125 staring at me right now, making me very nervous.

I also have a book I’m in the middle of critiquing for a friend, a partial I’ve neglected since December on standby, and a book one of my students wrote waiting in the wings.

There’s no shortage of things for me to do. The only thing I’ve got a shortage of right now is MOTIVATION. To be perfectly honest, this winter has been HARD on me. Through sickness (at least one of the four of us has been sick since mid-November) and lots of cold/snowy weather, I’ve lost the drive to create. Writing feels like a chore for me.

It’s much easier to turn on the television and watch the Olympics or curl up in bed and read for pleasure or watch a movie. Even more desirable to me? Just going to sleep.

Another honesty moment here? I put a lot of pressure on myself. A lot. I wanted this book done in 
December. Then January. As it nears the end of February, I’m still not sure I’ll have it done by the beginning of March. With each passing day, it gets harder and harder to write. With each passing day, it’s easier and easier to put it off.

And then there’s the pressure. I don’t know if it’s pressure I’m just putting on myself, or pressure that is coming from outside that I’m just picking up vibes on. Probably me. I put a lot of pressure on myself. For me to be happy, book two needs to match up to RITES OF PASSAGE in length, pacing, epic storyline, etc. Only this time I’m not writing about military school—a place I lived and experienced. Now I’m writing about a world I know nothing of. I have to research. And I’m scared. Scared of portraying it badly. Scared of failing. I guess that’s the biggest thing.

I’m scared to fail.

And that makes it easy to not try.

I read a quote today that said:

Work begins when the fear of doing nothing at all finally trumps the terror of doing it badly.

I’ve reached this point today. Doing nothing is obviously not working. The story certainly won’t be good if I don’t even write it. There won’t even be a story.

I’m a revision writer at heart, and I know this. I do best pounding out a first draft as fast as I can. RITES OF PASSAGE took six weeks. The momentum was strong, I was writing every day, I wasn’t sleeping because the story was IN ME. Other writers know what I’m talking about.

This one? This one is work. And fear. And doubt. All rolled into one book. Or, ¾ of one book, which is what I have so far.

So, here’s what’s happening. The internet? It’s gone. The television? Off limits. I’m making the sacrifice to get back into the groove of this story because that’s how I write.

Sure, writing is scary. Sure, it’s insanely intense at times. But the only way to get past the scary part is to get off your butt (or, in the case of a writer sit ON your butt) and get going.

I’ll miss you, but I’m hoping, with the sacrifices, I’ll be done in a day or two. Or a week. Or a month. But at least this way, I know I’m doing what I can and I won't be able to blame myself for not trying.

I’m making a sacrifice for my writing, because in the long run, this is what will work for me. Even if I'm already getting twitchy at my loss of social media.

What sacrifices do you make? Leave me a note and I'll respond when I'm back on-line! :-)


Sarah said...

I didn't know you had a blog, but I'm so behind in my blog reading anyway! Oy.

I made up a quote and taped it to my laptop, and it's so much like something you said "Doing nothing gets you nowhere." Succinct and accurate.

Rites is good, but you aren't writing Rites, you're writing something else, so just breathe and trust yourself! And if you're a revision writer anyway, just pound out the first draft any which way you can, right? :)

I don't sacrifice enough, probably, says the girl who hasn't finished her first book (it's around 56K). I get distracted my migraines and parenting and all of that

Anonymous said...

Methinks you need some outdoor time. No worries here. I know you can do this even when you have doubts. So, take a walk in the woods, by yourself if possible, and head back to your keyboard. What am I talking about? If you are reading this it means you finished! Yippee!

J Spence said...

You've got this!!

As for sacrifices, you're not alone. I ran into a staff member at my school today who thought I was on a leave. We both had a good laugh. But that is one of the biggest sacrifices I make, which is social time at school. I refuse to sacrifice time with my kids, so I have to make sure I focus and use every second I can at school.

Best of luck and I'm planning on doing this when I get back from our vacation. Revisions are waiting, so social media will have to disappear.