On Monday, I attempted to get through the ‘Day 3′ section of Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Find Your Writing Discipline‘… and I say attempted because I didn’t actually manage to do all the things she suggested, but I think I’m on the right track (for now, anyway).
I’d purchased a bulletin board, colored index cards, and push pins as per the instructions, and I mounted the board on my wall Monday morning, right next to my desk. I can reach it from where I’m sitting, which is a real bonus – that alone should be motivation to keep the board going, since it will require little extra effort to maintain.
So, as per instructed, I made 3 columns with 3 different colors of index cards, and placed them on the board. Then below the column headers (DO! – Doing… – DONE.) I placed cards according to their designated colors, each with one task or a step of a task. Most of these went in the ‘DO!’ column, and a few I was already ‘Doing…’. Simple enough. However, I ran into a little hiccup, namely that my life is very busy, and I could continue making cards for the DO! column until end of the day, and probably still have more things to write down. Holly makes a good point, though – she suggests only getting 5 steps ahead of yourself, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Fair enough. But I’m not starting from scratch with my writing – I have 2 major WIPs – so some of my cards are a bit broad, like “finish manuscript”. Okay, so maybe I’m not really using the bulletin board exactly how she suggested… but at least I can see a number of my goals all in one place, which is nice. It definitely gives me a better sense of what I’m working toward, if anything.
There’s another section in the ebook that I didn’t do, mostly because I know myself, and I know that it would just be another excuse to procrastinate. It involves breaking tasks down into 10-minute segments, using a timer, and estimating how much time it will take you to complete each task (there are sheets to fill out for this… and I know how I get filling out sheets… “oh, just one more thing… and this other thing, I should write it down TOO… oh, and–!”). I won’t go into detail since you can read it in the ebook yourself, but it would be a good idea for someone who’s not used to breaking their time into small chunks like that. It really is quite remarkable how much you can get done – writing or otherwise – in 10 minutes. I actually already own a portable timer and often take it around with me to time breaks, or have personal word wars, or any number of other things, so I figured I’d just stick with what I’ve been doing.
Of couse, I can easily see myself slipping back into old habits and patterns, but for now, I think this ebook was motivation enough to get me back up and running again. I’ve written 1000 words a day for 4 days in a row (minus the weekend & Mondays, since they don’t count), and I am excited to write again. Can I keep the momentum going? I’m not sure… but at this point, the end of WIP #1 is so close I can taste it. I’m excited for the ending, I can’t wait for it to be over, both because it’ll mean my first full manuscript is complete, and because I have WIP #2 waiting in the wings for some love of its own.
Yes, I’d recommend Lisle’s motivation tool, but don’t feel compelled to follow it by rote. Use it and modify the final step in a way that will work for you… but make sure you stay on task for Day 1 & 2, and the 20-minute segment at the beginning. I can’t say for certain that I’ve ‘found my writing disciple’ at this point… but it’s definitely a good re-start. And when it comes to the writing life, I say we celebrate the small victories!