If anyone ever tells you that writing gets easier once you’ve sold a book, please picture me laughing hysterically. Even though I worked hard for a long time to get my first sale and I’m thankful for my career, it’s not always easy. When the writing feels like a slog and you keep looking at the calendar, freaking out about the looming deadline, you can wonder why you ever picked this career. You’re convinced every word you put on the page is complete garbage and you’re only typing them because they’re bringing you closer to your required word count. You worry that your editor is going to read the finished product and think you wrote the entire thing while smoking crack.
Why yes I do have a deadline in 18 days and lots of words left to write. How did you know? Despite the fact that I have a detailed synopsis, for some reason this book is like trying to swim through mud. Often during the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself highly stressed because I wasn’t getting more words written each day. I am not one to miss a deadline and often get books in early (yeah, I was that kid in school), so I can get stressed if I’m cutting it too close. It’s hard to stay sane. It’s hard to not doubt myself. It’s hard to not at least wonder if any talent I had for writing books has been spent already.
But I recognize that these thoughts and self-inflicted stress are not helping me actually accomplish the task that has to be completed. So here are some tips I try to remind myself of each day to get through a difficult writing journey.
1. At the end of the day, even if I didn’t write the 20 pages I wanted, remind myself that I’m closer to the end goal than I was when I started the day.
2. Recognize that some parts of the book are going to be more difficult to write and go slower and that I can make up time in other parts that come more easily.
3. Do whatever I need to in order to entice myself to write pages. This may be that I get to get up and check social media or my e-mail for 10 minutes after every page I write. Or I get to watch a recorded segment of TV between commercials. Getting started each day is the hardest part, so yesterday I told myself I had to sit with my laptop for one hour and sprint write. One, this made me want to see how much I could accomplish in an hour. I also posted on Facebook what I was doing at the beginning of the hour and said I’d report back my progress at the end of the hour. Also, my reward for sitting there writing for a solid hour = banana pudding! And the fact that it got me rolling toward an eventual 17 pages for the day. When I’m really struggling, I switch up the plan each day — whatever I have to do to get pages written.
4. Change up when I write each day. Because I’m fortunate enough to write full-time, I can make my own daily schedule. Some days I’m more productive if I write first thing. Others, my brain just isn’t ready yet, so I run errands, do household tasks, go thrifting, whatever, then write at night. Again, whatever works.
5. Have a big reward in store for when I meet the deadline. This time around, my reward for finishing and for for selling the three books that include this one is to be able to book an hour-long massage. My stressed into knots muscles are going to need it.
I think part of my problem this time around is the stress of a tight deadline combined with the fact that for several months I basically wasn’t writing much as I recovered from my broken wrist and dealt with the never-ending house renovations. The writing part of my brain had atrophied, and it’s taken me a while to get it back into writing form again. My hope is that through this slog I’m strengthening that part of my brain and the next book won’t be so hard.
Here’s hoping you all are having lovely writing days full of easy pages.