Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weighty Concerns of the Writing Life

OK, so I was all giddy about having lost 9.5 pounds in the past 5 weeks.

I kept thinking about the tie-ins to the writing life. Self-discipline, routine, changing habits.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18).

Nearly as soon as I blabbed my intent for this post topic, I messed up big time.

I had a super stressful week. I STOPPED calculating my food points upon the site. After all, I didn't have the time.

I didn't grocery shop for the things I needed, so I ended up making do without my typical breakfast and lunch choices.

I gave in to emotional eating when I was stressed out twice, only coming to the Lord after I stuffed my face with a high-calorie treat while working hard late at night.

This week I learned a few different things and I would like to share how its challenging me in my writing life.

Plan for high stress writing times.

Often we know just when those times will be: before a conference, preparing for a contest, when we're invited to send a sample to an editor.

Opportunities can spring up out of the blue, but often there is some preparation.

For instance, conference registration is usually in the spring to early summer allowing for several months of preparation.

Sit down with a calendar as soon as you register for a conference or hear about a conference.

I had planned to enter the Phoenix Rattler, but because I hadn't written the date on my calendar I allowed an opportunity to slip away.

I suggest keeping a separate planbook just for writing, that way you can keep track of your larger goals and smaller ones.

For instance I will write on my calendar which days I plan to write my 1000 words and when I will plan to write book reviews or blog posts.

Celebrate what you do right.

Flylady recommends writing down your "ta-das" instead of merely your "to-dos." This builds in a sense of accomplishment. Spend a moment reflecting on what you DID finish, even if it wasn't quite everything on your to-do list.

Habits are essential to the writing life.

I've read that adding one habit a month is a life changer. What habit can you add this month to shake up your writing life?

Reading one craft book each month? Spending 10 minutes reading a quality fiction book to teach you about putting craft into practice?

What about if each time you sit down to write you try to tackle a 1K/1hr?

Then make sure you have the things you need to keep your habit in place. I found a high-fiber breakfast that tastes great, so I try to have it on hand daily.

Perhaps you need to find a spot without internet connection as Casey discussed in her post, so the internet isn't a distraction to your new habit.

Remember whenever you are making changes you will face extra challenges.

Every time we kick it up a notch in our writing life we face distractors.

Sometimes they're from outside: messes from little ones, yet one more accident to clean up from the 3-year-old, your outside job suddenly requiring large amounts of overtime, circumstances.

But often the biggest distractions are from within.

You didn't get your 1000 words in an hour yesterday. You just can't keep up that pace. You'll never get your novel done.

Why even send that out again? All that time to prepare it, all that mental energy...and I'll probably just get a rejection letter?

You know the voices, the lies you face in your writing life.

Spend lots of time listening to the true Voice daily.

Nothing else, no craft book I've read, no critique partner...nothing has changed my writing life as much as reading the Word daily and time in prayer.

The outflow in my writing life has been directly related to God's grace as I seek His face.

What about you? What is the biggest distraction to your writing life? And what steps can you take to try to overcome it?


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Love the "ta-da" concept. :-)

You're so right about the distractions that come from within. Thanks for the encouragement to listen to the true Voice.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Karen, Whenever I see you commenting on any of the posts I try to calculate your time. Its odd to think of you enjoying your dinner as I'm drinking my morning coffee :) Your comments are such an encouragement.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Biggest distraction to my writing life?
Real life -- and all that entails.
But I have to remember the real people are just as important as the imaginary ones that I want to spend time with -- and sometimes that's hard!

Jeanne T said...

Julia, great post. Love your suggestions. :)Right now the biggest distraction to my writing life is real life. Trying to prep for ACFW, keep up with the beginning of a new school year (kids' schedules, etc) a husband's busy work schedule, a messy house. Need I go on?

I appreciate your thoughts here. I'm definitely going to figure out how to make some changes. Probably AFTER ACFW. :)

Lindsay Harrel said...

Love these suggestions, Julia! I find that I get really tired at night after working all day. It can be such a trial to just put the rear in my chair and write. I'm also trying to lose weight and planning to run a 5K at the end of the month...and that takes time too. Everything just takes...time...that I don't have.

But I love the idea of celebrating what I DID get done instead of what I still have left to do. Love, love, love.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, Julia, This is such an inspired post. I'm also working to regain my health after my surgery, and I love the parallels between the two endeavors. You're right...Nothing is truly successful without being grounded in God's plan.

Unknown said...

Great slice of real life. Thank you for sharing some really good tips. Keeping our eyes on the one who can keep it all in line always helps, but I liked the ta-da tip too.

I hope you have a better (and very well organised) week!

Julia M. Reffner said...


Yes, yes. Important reminder. Thanks! You always give us such good advice here.


I can relate to this, we started our school year yesterday, it makes things speed up quickly for sure.


If you're preparing for a 5K sounds like you have a lot to celebrate. That's wonderful!


Oh, yeah, I'll bet you have some great insights on this topic as an instructor. Can't wait to meet you at ACFW!!


Thanks, yes, I went back to a meeting. The accountability makes all the difference whether its our writing life or any other part. Thank you for stopping by today!