Committing to writing on a daily basis isn’t hard. But it does take work. Planning. Willpower. And showing up. Every. Day. Repeatedly. For as long as it takes to develop a writing habit you can’t kick.
Every day I come home from the day job, then (after dinner, time with the kid, and starting a load of laundry) sit my butt down to get to work on my REAL job–my writing job. Every single day. I do this.
But do I write every day?
I had to go and ask myself that question, didn’t I?
I mean, it’s not like I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not always writing–every freaking day at the REAL (writing) job. I hate that I’m not, but I get it. I have other stuff I have to take care of right now.
- Like website maintenance.
- Social media updates and tweaks.
- And emails (way too many emails to even read in a single day).
Yes-yes, all that stuff is important, completely writing business related, and needs to get done, but why is it that I put those things in front of writing new content on new stories?
No, really, I want to know. And yes, I know I’ve already been at the blog talking about following your gut instincts and I practically ordered you (me) to do (exactly) what the gut tells
me you to do because the gut (Inner Cave Girl) (almost always) knows best but… why can’t I get those small things done already and write?
Um, because I suck at multi-tasking and am a habitual (overachieving) perfectionist.
Truer words have never been spoken, but… is that the only reason?
<see Ellie Mae sit and ponder a minute>
<see Ellie Mae cock her head to the side and stare at the blinking cursor>
Yeah, I got nothing.
I don’t have a to-do list for writing.
No, don’t laugh. It’s true. I don’t have a to-do list for the writing that’s specific enough for me to come home everyday and order my brain to get tunnel vision focus on writing… whatever is on my to-do list.
Which is stupid, because I have a to-do list for the blog. Kinda, sorta, in a way–Okay, fine.
I have a topic list with dates for when posts are due at the blog. That list is not a specific hand drawn–spelled out to the n-th degree with so many details that it makes your eyes bug out–kind of list.
Instead, my “blog this” list is more of a… draft set of notes, loosely bound together with some ideas that suggest topics to randomly type onto this very blank page with it’s very blinky cursor.
Do I have a roadmap for what I’m expected to write about in the blog topics?
That’s a joke right? I did mention I’m a plantser (pantser+plotter), right?
I didn’t? Don’t know why I didn’t, but whatever. Let me rectify that.
Hi, my name is Elijana Kindel and I am a plantser.
(definition plantser (n.): a writer who plots a story concept (arc) then writes that story like a pantser or by the seat of her pants until she goes kersplatt and hits the end of the scene, post, or topic.)
So yeah, my process? It can be ugly. Because I don’t have a road map. I have a topic that’s a “general idea” of what I should be babbling about while typing and I do that–on a wing and a prayer that has me hoping and praying that I’m where I’m supposed to be when I get to the end (of that section) then find I’m babbling about exactly what I need to lead me into the next post–or section.
Is this the best process I could develop? Most definitely not. I could have come up with a super efficient “looking” method for laying out my thoughts that’d end with me spending days, weeks, months planning items down to the minute detail–BUT… for me… that’s a waste of time and results in some of the most wooden, driest, dullest content I’ve ever read.
Sort of like reading a book review that looks like a 5th grade book report.
So instead, I made my process include some spontaneity. Which meant that all I need to do is find an idea (or topic) that “means something to me” and then I babble on it. For as long as it takes until I go kersplatt at the end.
Sort of like I’m doing right now. Brilliant, right?
At least I thought it was until I did something I still–for the life of me–cannot fathom what made me do it. I mean, I said I’m logical, right? Then why the hell did I front load the blog topics for this very blog that will be done all freaking 2018 year long… why did I load it into Scrivener?
I loaded my blog post schedule into Scrivener! No, not Excel (where it’d be a million times easier to track and sort), but Scrivener (where it’s a pain the ass to sort and organize, but is always ready for me to grab a page and simply document it).
Hell no, I don’t know why I did this. Okay, I have an idea of why I did this.
Because I’m an idiot. Because it happened to be open and available at the time I was drafting topics and sorting pages. And I didn’t want to have to enter the items in twice. (yes, because one man’s lazy is another’s efficiency factor)
But still–Scrivener for setting a schedule? That can’t be sorted and tracked like a sweet, soul soothing, Excel spreadsheet? What was I thinking and–more to the point–how the hell am I going to stay on top of this?
I have no clue.
(Note to self–find out if there’s an import spreadsheets function in Scrivener for planning purposes. If not, then ask the Scrivener folks if they can invent one. Or at the least, export the manuscript outline into a spreadsheet.)
*sigh-head-thud-desk-again i prove i am my own worst enemy-yay-me*
Regardless of the reason I entered every-freaking-thing into Scrivener
(instead of Excel because i’m an idiot), the point is that I made a to-do list.
And have been sticking to it fairly well.
Which is also writing.
Not the type of writing that’ll get me royalties off of book sales–yet it’s still writing. (Isn’t it?)
See me NOT surprised that…
I’m NOT 100% happy with my commitment to writing so far this year.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m behind schedule (by about two posts) at the time I’m writing this post, but am I stressing about it?
YES. No. Okay, fine, yes I’m two clicks away from being neurotic about it I’m stressing a little bit.
But why am I stressing?
No, really, why am I stressing?
Because I made a commitment to myself to keep a schedule.
A writing schedule.
A daily blogging habit.
Yes, yes, I’m stressing a little about the blogs, but what I’m really really freaking out about is that the blogs are not new books and what I really need to be working on are new books and I don’t have a to do list prepped for what scenes need to get written and I know I’m doing a massive run on sentence without any grammar but for crying out loud I’m melting down inside–can’t you see that? Oh look, I did a question mark so that counts for grammar and what am I going to do?
No, really, what am I going to do????
*Red alert! All hands, battle stations! Full blown meltdown panic in 3…2….1…*
I can’t be a writer who doesn’t write books. Writing books and getting these stories out of my head are the most important thing I have to do. I mean, I HAVE to do it. I’m going crazy. The characters are taking over my mind and commenting–oh god, are they commenting–on a daily basis at the day job. But do I say the comments?
No, yes, okay sometimes–because I can’t not because the characters call it as they see it and there’s so much political high school bullshit that happens in corporate America that my snide and snarky side can’t take it. I mean, I can handle regular BS, but this stuff?
It comes at me like a shock and awe me stupid campaign on crack.
I can’t take it much more. I have to write! I have to write books. Not blogs. But books! Books with substance. And meat. Maybe even some potatoes, but they have to be books! Not Blogs!
So why the hell am I blogging right now? I shouldn’t be blogging right now. I should be writing that scene where Rod A meets Cog B but I can’t because I’m
neurotic a linear thinker with an Inner Cave Girl who carries a mean ass club that she’s using to the full extent of her angry, svelte body and–wait!
Why is my Inner Cave Girl svelte and I’m not?
Because she works out with that damn
stick club–ALL THE TIME.
Ow. Soooo, the Inner Cave Girl is pissed. At me. Again.
Because I did it. Again.
I ignored what she was telling me and started thinking instead of
feeling my way through the crazy listening to her mime her way through explaining exactly what I need to do to get back on track with her plan my plan.
How anyone can listen to someone mime out an explanation is beyond me. But whatever. I get it.
I fell off the turnip truck and guzzled some more slightly bitter Kool-Aid. Again.
Damn, this is getting old. Real old. Real quick. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I keep setting myself up with lofty goals and then falling short of them? Why did I put blogging for the first two weeks of January as the must happen before I can start working on a new book?
*deep breathe. don’t panic. pet the doggy and pull yourself together.*
The Inner Cave Girl had me put blogging on the to do list for the first two weeks of 2018 as a test.
To test out my belief that I could and would write daily–and I mean DAILY–to develop a habit.
That was the first test, but the second test was to see if I could do it while maintaining the crazy busy schedule I’ve been pulling for the past
6 months year 2 years 3.7 years.
I’m sorry to say that I haven’t been able to commit to the writing like I
should have wanted to.
<see Ellie Mae hang her head in shame>
Then promptly get over it.
Yeah, I had a set back. I had some crazy work hours this week and I got lost in the thought that I needed to do something that goes against my instincts.
Shit happens and I get over it.
Yeah, I need to write the books. And I will. After I get my homework done.
No, I’m not putting writing books second on my list because I’m not a real writer.
It’s second on my list–FOR RIGHT NOW IN THIS MOMENT–because I’m working on my skills and have a lot of thoughts I need to get sorted in my head.
AND WHILE I SORT THOSE THOUGHTS… I’m practicing head down and writing. By blogging.
I’m practicing making a commitment to write each day. It’s as simple as that.
Are these blogs spectacular pieces of brilliant non-fiction? Um, no. Not even close.
But they are my thoughts, in my voice, and with every one sentence that gets pounded into this keyboard I’m honing my skills and strengthening my connection to my writer’s voice.
Because yeah, every piece of fiction I write is connected to my voice. To the way I perceive the world. To my slightly skewed, jaded and cynical perspective on why people do what they do when they do it in this zany world we all call home.
And that’s what commitment is really about for us writers–isn’t it?
It’s about writing on a daily basis. It’s about sharpening our pencils, quills, dictation, typing skills and improving the connection between what’s in our head and comes out on the page. It’s about getting out of our own way to say what we mean and not what we think we should mean.
It’s about turning the other cheek and letting typos pour onto the page so our inner editor has something to clean up when she comes back from her coffee break. And you know she’s a clock watcher so she doesn’t give you that often to simply be free and write with pure sweet abandon before she comes back and announces whatever you’ve written (35 words) has a 90% typo rate in it. Or is crap. Not just any kind of crap but the most spectacular crap that’s ever been slopped onto the page.
But it’s okay. Because that’s what we writers do. We write. Bad crappy stuff at first then come back later and fix it. Because it’s art. In the moment. And a connection from my brain to yours through the written word and… oh dear God, I’m rambling about writing because the inner editor stepped out to have a chat with the Inner Cave Girl and–dude, I am so screwed.
They’re talking to each other. The Inner Editor and the Inner Cave Girl. You know this is bad. So very, very bad. Because they’re talking. And planning what’s gonna happen to me next and I’ve only got like two minutes before they’re both back with a new set of directives and a delete key and–wait. What is this? A flyer?
I honestly don’t know whether to run away or rub my hands together in maniacal glee while cackling.
But I do know one thing. I’ll never be able to finish what I started (yesterday, in the case of this post) if I don’t figure out how to win that epic showdown and get out of my own way to write what I mean and not what I “think” I should mean.
Something I definitely won’t be able to to do if I don’t go hit the gym (or the keyboard, in this case) and keep strengthening my writing skills by committing to writing daily.
And on that note–I’m off.
Until next time… take care, have a great night, and wish me luck on the epic showdown!