Tags: April 2014 A-Z Challenge, creativity, procrastination, writing routine, writing to a deadline
My friend had been blogging almost daily for three months – and she works at a demanding job. I am retired and had written little during that same three months.
Then she said she was going to do the April 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge, which involves writing and posting a blog entry on twenty-six days through April, with Sundays free. Each entry was to be based on consecutive letters of the alphabet.
The challenge was to begin the next day, and I wondered how she would do it, after having already done three months of daily blogging. Then I felt really guilty that, in spite of my professing that I want and need to write, I had been procrastinating about my novel and my blogging for ages. Instead of wishing I had time to write, I should have been sitting down regularly, if not every day, and making the time. But I lacked the self-discipline needed to do it – I thought.
Faced with my friend’s dedication and wanting to do something about my own laziness, I impulsively decided to join in the A to Z Challenge. It would be a good way to develop a writing routine.
It was the evening of the day before it began, so I had a few hours to come up with the first entry. I did it easily, and posted ‘A is for Alphabet’ the following evening. Then I wrote ‘B is for Butcher and Bicycle’ and posted it on the second day. As I like to add pictures to my post, it can take some time to complete each one, but I got it up before lunch on the second day.
I also decided I needed to plan what I should write for each letter before it came up. When I began, I wasn’t going to write to a theme, but after I’d written my third post, ‘C is for Challenge’, and begun ‘D is for Depression’, I realised that a strong theme had developed on its own. I was writing family stories.
During April, there were several family affairs to attend, all involving being away from home for several days at a time. I had to write my blog posts ahead, so that I could just publish them from my husband’s tablet as they fell due.
Writing to a deadline was good for me, and it still is. I have just published my last post of the challenge, ‘Z is for Zed and Zee”, and I have easily managed to write them and get them onto my blog on the correct day.
What has the A to Z Challenge done for me?
- It has shown me that I can develop a habit of writing regularly;
- It has shown that I write well to a deadline – which is a good thing only if I create deadlines to work to.
I already know that I can work under pressure. I did it when I was writing university assignments; when, as a school principal, I had to create and write the school handover books; write submissions for funding and follow-up reports; and any number of other written tasks.
What I really need is get on with my next Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child. I am two-thirds through the first draft, but it has only been staggering along for the last six months. There is a difference between writing reports and assignments and writing creative pieces, and I often find it difficult to get into the right frame of mind to work on the creative.
However, now that I have established a writing practice, I must use that to get back to my novel. Instead of allowing myself to be distracted by other tasks and by social media, I must just get my backside in my chair and WRITE! That’s the only way to break the dam that has been holding back the flow of creativity. In January, I did set June as the goal to finish my first draft – so, I have a deadline to meet. That’s my new challenge.
Thanks to the A to Z Challenge for getting me this far! It is a big step. Now I will take the next one.
Did you join the A to Z Challenge? How did you go?
(c) Linda Visman 01.05.14 (690 words)
Tags: discipline, excuses, motivation, procrastination, writing life
I have a friend who has all the daily tasks and responsibilities involved with her grown-up family and grandchildren, as well as her friends, that I have.
This friend has taken on the challenge of posting a blog entry every day since two months ago. And she is meeting that challenge brilliantly.
My friend also works four full days a week at a demanding job. Being an age pensioner, I no longer have to work for a living so, theoretically, I have more time and energy for writing than she does.
One of my goals is to write at least one (just one) blog post each week. But I am having trouble maintaining the effort I need to achieve that goal.
What is the difference between my friend and me?
I think there two differences, both of which relate to what my friend has and what I lack: motivation and self-discipline.
I used to have both of those in abundance. I was a school teacher and principal in a remote area of Australia. I maintained a household whilst working long hours –and usually for six days a week. I got up early and went to bed exhausted every day.
When I retired from teaching and discovered writing, I was unstoppable. I wrote short stories, both fiction and memoir, I wrote poetry, and articles about various aspects of writing. I entered writing competitions. I wrote two children’s novels and a longer Y.A. novel, and began a second one.
Now, I can barely write more than a page or two in my journal. Why? Where have my motivation and self-discipline gone to?
I have so much that I want to write: to finish my second Y.A. novel; to write my fiction and memoir stories, my poetry, my father’s life story; to write articles for the magazine I publish and edit for my writers’ group.
The past year has been difficult in several ways, and I have been emotionally and physically drained by it. But I don’t know if that is the reason for my lethargy and my current procrastination.
I don’t want to make excuses. And I also don’t want to give up my writing. I have a lot to say, much to pass on, and I don’t want all that to die.
Somehow, I have to find what is holding me back. I have to regain that strong motivation and self-discipline I used to have. I have to find a way to again become fully engaged with my dream.
P.S. I wrote this in my journal. Then I realised I have actually written a blog post! And, in doing so, I have my target post for this week! Well, it takes all kinds, doesn’t it?
Have you gone through a similar experience of losing motivation and self-discipline? If so, how did you regain them, and the rhythm and energy to write again?
Tags: fear of writing, finishing a novel, need to write, procrastination, time-management
I wanted to have finished my second novel by the end of this year – 2013, but I haven’t made it.
My father’s illness and death in the first half of the year meant frequent trips away from home, for several weeks at a time.
Doing slow but steady, and heavy physical work on our backyard terracing often left little energy for creative thought.
Writing group commitments and creation of its newsletter/magazine took up some of the time I could have used for writing.
But the main reason was more than any of these.
I could have made much better use of my time.
I could have written much more had I not allowed myself to be side-tracked by social media. I could have been both creative and productive had I ignored all the things that had me procrastinating: tiredness, laziness, unnecessary tasks, etc.
But mostly, if I had tackled my fears and uncertainties regarding my writing by getting pen in hand and words on paper, I would have not only created and built a story, but would have proved that I could build and write it.
So, with another 365 days ahead of me, my intention is to write! To complete the first draft of my novel, to edit it, and to get it ready for publication. And I will do this before June of 2014.
There are many other writing projects in the planning or partially executed that I will complete this year; the smaller ones that have been waiting to be published for a few years. And I will begin my next major project. Not “I hope to”, but “I will”.
Those 365 blank pages do not need to be tainted by my fears, or left blank by my procrastination.
I will go forth and write!
(c) Linda Visman 31.12.2013
Tags: e-book, fear, procrastination, publishing, writer's block, writing
I first enquired about the process of getting Ben’s Challenge converted to an e-book at the beginning of September; it is now almost the end of October. Why have I left it so long to do something? Why have I been procrastinating?
Well, it is probably for the same reasons that I procrastinate with my writing: there are too many other things to do; I am too easily distracted; I don’t have the self-discipline to focus on this one thing and get it underway. And why is all that so, I wonder.
Well, I sat in my car by the lake this morning and thought about it. I came up with the answer – an answer I have known about for a long time, but have failed to address. The answer is Fear.
That’s right, fear. I am afraid of starting the process of making my novel into an e-book. I am afraid of getting into my writing, particularly into the follow-up to Ben’s Challenge. So, what is it I am afraid of? And why is that fear paralysing me?
I have the answer to those questions too, and the answer is the same for both. I am afraid of not doing something perfectly. I am afraid of starting something because I may make a mistake. So, I keep putting it off; after all, if I don’t do it, then I can’t make a mistake, can I?
Oh, yes sister, I sure can! And it is a much bigger mistake than doing something imperfectly; much bigger than doing something wrong in a process that is probably foolproof anyway.
The mistake? Not doing something that I need to do, want to do; something that will be fulfilling and will, hopefully, also give pleasure to others.
After all, at the end of life, it is not the things we did that we will regret the most, but those things we did not do.
So, today – in fact, just half an hour before writing this, I began the process with CreateSpace of converting Ben’s Challenge to an e-book that can be read on Kindle.
And it feels good.
© Linda Visman