A tanking economy. Job losses at historic highs. Pirates pillaging. Mothers killing their children. Fathers killing in front of their children. Floods. Tornadoes. Wildfires. And now the swine flu.
In the midst of all this real life drama, angst, and worry it’s a challenge to keep focused on the task at hand—whether it be work, college, or writing.
I’ll be the first to admit it. Lately it’s been difficult for me to maintain the strict, disciplined schedule required to produce the pages necessary to meet writing deadlines and commitments.
A new job. College courses. Family responsibilities. A possible pig pandemic. Just what the aspiring author needs to create a positive, affirming, emotionally and creatively inspirational work environment, right?
It doesn’t help matters (especially when one is prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder) that winter just won’t give way to spring and the days are cold, rainy, and depressing as you know what. Add to that the fact that—generally speaking—it helps to be in a ‘happy place’ when you write comedy, and you have the classic setting for activity avoidance—the activity in question being writing of a humorous nature, of course. It’s hard to be funny when you’re grumpy.
A couple of days ago a co-worker was inquiring about my writing process. The conversation went something like this:
Coworker: So, when do you actually write? Do you go home after work and write?
Me: That depends.
Translation: (If I can drag myself away from Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren, I might actually do some writing.)
Coworker: What are you working on?
Me: That depends.
Translation: (If I’m in a good mood, I’ll work on the funny stuff. If I’m in a dark place, I’ll whip out the serial killer/stalker/slice ‘n dice story.)
Coworker: So how’s that working for you?
Me: Great! Just great!
Translation: Why are you badgering me?
Coworker: So. When will you finish the next book?
Me: Soon. Very soon.
Translation: Why do you hate me?
And so it went.
Fortunately, as a former state trooper who made it through four months of the Quasi-Military Style Public Safety Academy I am confident the strict self-discipline I adopted and ascribe to and the various tools I enlist to aid me in my endeavors will see me safely through the current maze of trials, temptations, and distractions that threaten to derail my writing progress.
Translation: Now I am going to make a big pot of coffee to enjoy with a rather large slice of double chocolate fudge cake, open my work in progress file and try to be funny despite the cold, wet, yucky weather outside my office window.
Tell me. What works for you? What is your writing process like? Do you set daily/weekly page quotas? How do you keep focused on and committed to the craft of writing when the world around you is spinning out of control? Do you—like me—have different stories for different moods? Rewards for goals met? Any tips for getting—and staying—in the ‘writing zone’? Between work and writing, how do you find time for family—and for you?
Well, my coffee’s done brewing and that cake is waiting. Oh, yeah. So is my writing project. So I’m off to put words on the page.
Translation: If I don’t finish this project, my agent may engage in some slicin’ and dicin’ of her own.
Talk about writing motivation!