Falling Off Track

In January and February, I was incredibly productive. I wrote brand new storybooks. I participated in Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm 2018 and “won” with 30 new story ideas. The inspiration and excitement were palpable. By late March, I started to get off track because I took on freelance editing work. Financially, it was needed, but creatively it was a disaster. I finally completed the assignment by Boston Marathon weekend (a three-day holiday weekend in mid-April here in MA) and was ready to get back to it. But now, in mid-May, I find myself struggling. Overwhelmed with deadlines at my day job, end-of-year kid activities, and the usual household stuff, I’m falling back into old habits of letting the writing slide off the front burner and get shoved to the back. (Does that metaphor work? I think so…) I’m still serious about it, as I wrote in my initial post, but I fear I am losing steam.

Someone (most likely Jess Keating) recently posted on Twitter that you can do your writing in five-minute chunks. It’s longer than you think—just try doing a five-minute plank. So I’m trying to re-embrace that. I say “re” because I’d actually developed some great time-use habits earlier in the year. My work commute can vary from 30 to 60 minutes, so I would use that time for organizing my ideas or even writing. Speech-to-text software on my phone is the world’s greatest invention. But even though my commute hasn’t changed as a result of work deadlines or freelance editing or end-of year concerts/soccer/projects, my brain’s ability to be thoughtful has. (Lack of sleep is also probably a factor. Well, definitely a factor.) And so I find myself defaulting to podcasts as I drive. And in and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing. But it’s not interspersed with creative efforts as it used to be.

Now, I’ve looked ahead at my life over the next few months, and I see some things getting better (kids are out of school and have fewer events) and others getting worse (big work deadline in August). In the end, it’s probably net zero on more writing time, so there’s no point in waiting for the mythical day when it gets better. I’ve seen how I feel when I am writing, and it’s amazing. It feels right. It feels exciting. It is fulfilling. So now I have to make a plan. I KNOW I work better with a plan. Having goals is not enough, especially when the goal-lines are self-set. That’s why 12 x 12 and StoryStorm and all of these “winnable” activities work for me. Someone else is setting the deadline. But an overall plan to achieve my writing goals, that can’t be external. So that is this week’s goal: to make a plan, put it on the wall (always more official when posted), and share it with someone I trust who will help keep me accountable and shoot down my excuses.

Today’s Tidbit: Not only did Tara Lazar create StoryStorm, her entire website is full of writing advice and useful resources for children’s authors. Her Twitter feed is pretty fantastic, too, and conveniently appears on the site for one-stop Tara shopping.

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