Saturday, May 05, 2007

Being Held Accountable

In the past few weeks, I have struggled with finding time to write. No, that’s not true. I have struggled with making time to write. But I’ve had that old lifus interruptus creeping up on me again. I tell myself “Okay, as soon as I finish doing (you fill in the blank), I’ll have time to write.” Yeah, snort. Tell that to my kids. Or my husband. Or the job. Or any of the other people, places or things that conspire to get in the way of some good solid writing time.

But the release date for my Wild Rose Press release "The Model Man" has been set for November 1; first round edits went back to my editor on May 1 and she has promised to get second round edits back to me no later than July 1. The pressure is on – and doggone it, I’m going to finish Wild Texas Wind before I dive back into The Model Man again. It has been set aside one too many times.

So I’ve set up a plan to get back to writing every day. I didn’t give myself a set number of pages for each day, that never works for me. I get too caught up in “but I did more yesterday” or the “I failed” mentality on the days I don’t meet my goal. Worse, I find myself writing longer sentences in order to make the goal. (Ex: he stalked across the room becomes he strode across the room slowly and with great purpose. For those of you who know how much I hate “ly” words, you know I’m only making work for myself down the road. I’ll be editing that out.).

But the twist this time is being held accountable for the number of pages I write. I’ve asked my two closest CP’s to nag me. Non-stop. And it’s working. Knowing that at the end of the day I have to report to someone how many pages I actually wrote really helps to motivate me. And finding messages in my inbox first thing in the morning that say things like “why are you checking e-mail when you’re supposed to be writing?” remind me to stay focused on my goal.

And I’m amazed at how well it’s gone. Yesterday I had one of “those” days. I’ll spare you the details, but it was definitely one of “those” days --by eight a.m. Not the big smack in the teeth life sends our way every so often, but a series of little slaps and pinches that added up to one big, stressful “Ouch!” Normally a day like that would find me diving headfirst into a bowl of ice cream the size of a swimming pool – to heck with writing, I need comfort food!

At one point, I told myself “ahh, when Paty hears what kind of day I had today she’ll understand why I couldn’t write.” Directly on the heels of that thought came the realization – no she won’t! She’ll say I should have written through it. So I did. And instead of that bowl of ice cream I settled for a second cup of coffee, figuring the caffeine would either worsen my mood or perk me up. (For the record, it did both). At the end of the day, when the dust had settled, I only ended up with about four pages. But it’s four more than I had, so I won’t beat myself up over that. And when I told Paty about my horrible morning, and how I’d still managed to crank out a few pages, I got a wonderful cheerleader-perky note back telling me to keep going.

So I learned an important lesson yesterday. Being accountable to someone for the number of pages I write in a day works for me.

How do you motivate yourself to write?

3 comments:

Kristin-Marie said...

It is wonderful to have someone checking on you and motivating you, isn't it? Even if your pages aren't exactly the same every day, keeping a running-average can be just as motivating. On the other hand, procrastinations fall away with accountability. You, go!

Susan Macatee said...

I started making and printing out goal sheets of what writing related things I plan to do each month.

I can change the goals as I need to. For instance, when Medallion Press requested a full, I put my other manuscript aside to work on getting that out on time.

After all, there are so many distractions in life. You need some kind of set plan to accomplish anything.

But having the things I want to accomplish written down, helps to keep me on track. I've become much more productive.

Christine Koehler said...

I've reconciled myself to the fact that because I write with a partner being held accountable for 'goals' is no good. None.

We have a new system. Whenever we're both home, usually a weekend, this week it was Thursday and Sunday, we hammer out a chapter.

2 chapters a week is about the best we can hope for. Unless life settles down and soon, that's all we're going to get.