I’m a big fan of motivational reading. Over the years I’ve used books, talks, podcasts, and more, to get me over humps and out of slumps. Now I’d like to share all that has resonated with me, in the hope that, wherever you are on your writing journey, the things I’ve learned might inspire you too.
Each of my Author’s Mindset series has four topics. I suggest you pick one topic and spend some time (at least a week, or as long as you need) mulling over the suggestions, and implementing any new habits you need to propel your writing forward.
Have you ever woken up determined to get things done, only to find that within a few hours the plan is falling apart? Or does it drive you insane when your best intentions don’t come to fruition?
I have lots of plans for my stories – big, ambitious plans – and I’d like to make them happen sooner rather than later, thank you very much. The rest of the world does not seem to understand this, which is why the cat throws up on my shoes, my kids get sick when my edit arrives, the power goes out, the washing machine breaks, or I get an email about some boring document I forgot to fill in for the tax office, and it takes me half a day to find the information they need. In other words, right in the midst of my best laid plans, my real, messy life is happening ALL the time!
To get my books done, I’ve had to learn to be flexible, particularly since having kids. However, what’s even more important is to be able to adapt to life’s circumstances without causing myself internal stress. I’m a work in progress on this one, but luckily I love to plan: so when things go awry, I’ll happily make a new plan to try to keep progressing. Flexibility means being able to watch your daily goals crash and burn, and immediately set new ones. Flexibility means creative thinking about when and how you’ll find the time to write. Before my kids arrived I was a night owl. When they were little I worked during their naps and got babysitting help, or wrote at weekends when my husband was home. I had big plans when they went to school – then we ended up home schooling! The solution? Becoming an early bird, and getting up at dawn to get some me time and begin writing early, before the day overwhelms me.
Having a plan means you’re much more likely to achieve your goals. But a rigid plan is as bad as no plan, because when life intervenes it’ll make you throw your hands up in despair. Keep readjusting your plans to match your circumstances. Flexibility includes setting deadlines and then changing them when needed, so you don’t tie yourself up in knots trying to do the impossible.
ACTION STEPS/THINGS TO CONSIDER
Keep your eye on your writing goals (as mentioned in Balance), and be prepared to adjust your plans when necessary. Sailors don’t set their boats on a course and sit back – they are prepared to get busy, man the sails, wait out the storms and enjoy the sunshine. But throughout all that, they make sure to keep heading towards their destination.
Don’t beat yourself up if your plans haven’t worked. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve self-sabotaged or life has dealt you a few new cards, you can reset and refocus as soon as you have the opportunity.
Remember that writing a book can be a messy business. Some scenes will pour out, while others need to be wrenched from your tired, befuddled brain. Sometimes you’ll write 1000 words. Sometimes you’ll cut 5000. You might write every day for a month, then another month will disappear without any new words on the page. There is no perfect formula that works forever, so readjusting is a natural part of the process. Perhaps there are authors out there who’ve discovered some consistently magical method for making steady progress and keeping everything perfectly in order while writing, but I’ve yet to meet one.
Look at the next five days in your diary, and see where you can carve out any more half-hour blocks of writing time. What could you say no to? Could you take the train instead of driving somewhere, and use that time to plot? Is there a certain time of day you tend to play on your phone that could be used for writing? You might be surprised at the amount of time you can find.
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