"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pecking Away

Male downy woodpecker

Instead of worrying about slow progress on my manuscript, I'm rectifying it. As of yesterday, I've got a Plan. I've set Goals. And I intend to Follow-Through.

With so much going on in my life these days, I cut myself a lot of slack where writing is concerned. I'm not under contract. I'm writing on spec. That's well within my comfort zone. But it's also true that I'm getting impatient with myself. In my head, the book is there--it's alive, it's complete. I need to get the rest of it down on paper in a completed first draft. To do so, I must tap my reserves of discipline. The next book is already trying to shove its way into my consciousness, but there's no room for it.

Over the past year I've proved that when motivated, I can accomplish things.

This morning, practising my most challenging mandolin piece (and very well, I might add, I was cooking!) my mind re-wound back to this time last year. And realised how far I'd come.

Last spring I decided I wanted to lose 5 pounds. As of this morning, I've lost 26.

My Plan is this: I will write a minimum of 1000 words every day. Typed, longhand, hieroglyphics, whatever. If I succeed in this, that distant light at the end of the manuscript tunnel won't be dim indefinitely.

As goals go, this is hardly taxing. It's only about 4 ms. pages. It's only a couple of hundred words more than my opinion pieces, which average about 800 words. I could do it without breaking a sweat. The issue isn't the quantity so much as the consistency of effot, the habit of producing.

The Rules are these: After completing my 1000 words, I'm not supposed to stop. But I can. If I write 2000 words one day, I can't take off the next day. The only exception is weekends. For nearly all my career--except when deadline looms, or unless I'm in the mood for writing--my weekends have been sacrosanct. I try to preserve at least one weekend day when I don't even log onto a computer or do anything book-related. Therefore, I will allow myself to have a day off...provided I make it up. If I want to take off Saturday, I must do 2000 words on some other day--preferably in advance, on Friday--but if not then immediately after, on Sunday or Monday.

I started yesterday and exceeded my goal.

And I know the biggest test of my will versus my calendar of activities will be the coming week!

Female hairy woodpecker

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