Accountability

I have been trying to keep a decent writing schedule on this blog since I started it.

If you knew me in meat space you would now begin your cackling and rolling on the ground. However the one thing that all my current habits have in common is this:

Accountability.

Cleaning the cat box? If I don’t, my cat will poop everywhere.

Keeping my dishes done? If I don’t, the roaches will come find me.

Turning in drafts? Deadlines.

Daily word count? My friends and I have a monthly pool going. Whoever has the most words at the end of the month wins.

It really is that easy for me. One of the reasons I think I have never managed to keep a good work out schedule stems from the fact that I dislike working out with people. (If I’m sweating away my delicious calories that I worked hard to collect, I’m not feeling chatty or happy. It makes me unpleasant.)¬†Any other project or task that I’ve procrastinated on all moves back to accountability.

Stories require accountability too. I have so many half-started fiction bits rolling around in my word processor files that one of these days they are going to fit themselves together like Frankenstein’s monster and come eat me in my sleep. How can you get that sort of external check system?

Well, consequences for one. If you DON’T do the daily writing, then you WON’T finish it which is a shame. You won’t be able to show anyone, or at least if you’re like anyone I know, you won’t WANT to show the half-finished bit to anyone. Two, if you have a friend, that helps.

Friends who write aren’t always easy to acquire. I have some writer friends who are fabulous to hang out with but have such different writing processes than myself that accountability with them isn’t as helpful. It takes time and patience but once you have found them, put a ring on it. (Figuratively…unless they are also partner-in-life material then good for you.) If you can find a buddy or at least someone you know to ask about your status on a daily/weekly basis, that can help.

I won’t pretend that I know all the answers. I often feel like I am fumbling forward in the dark, fingers outstretched to find a way through to the other side. That imaginary other side resembles a podium at some awards ceremony where I am being told what a steller author I am.

Done laughing? I am too.

In the end, focus on the stories. Focus on the words and remember: Each keystroke is one step closer to that completed project. The story of 1000 words n’ all that jazz.

Finding Time to Write

Writing is exhausting.

Not because it takes a large amount of energy to move one’s fingers up and down, nor because words are some unattainable thing. Baring disability, people use their words so often that the darn things just scatter about like so many grains of dirt.

Writing is hard because you have to FIND those those words that someone is going to want to read. Not just read, but eventually pay to read, which is the dream of all who put their work out into the ether, hoping that something will be accepted as a project.

When you’re just starting out, it’s hard because you can’t (usually) afford to do it all the time. I work at a very busy medical clinic and my day to day is focused more on helping our patients than getting my word count for the day. A friend of mine works a library and she must fit her words in between work and her 2 hour plus commute to said employment. I have friends who are in retail that stand all day and the prospect of coming home at the end of the day to a keyboard to pour out bits of themselves onto a screen is daunting.

But. Here we are. We do it anyway. We are not the later-career Best Sellers. Instead, here we are at the ground floor, looking at that mountain, each stroke of the keyboard a step towards a finished product.

When I go to conferences, many writers who have managed that lovely switch from day-job and writing on the side to Full Time Author look back on the days that they were at the bottom of the mountain fondly. So I am going to follow their example and tell myself that one day I will look back to waking up an hour earlier than I need to with fondness. I will appreciate the extra hours that I put into these short stories and manuscripts.

Because when you’re finding time to write, you’re doing more than carving out time to create, you’re building a foundation to appreciate what you will hopefully earn.