My first outing in Indy was to a coffee shop called Calvin Fletcher’s. I had breakfast, nursed my first daughter, and bought a bag of whole beans as a gift for in-laws. I imagined what our lives could be here, and hoped it would include writing.
As I finish editing Gender Chasm, I have been thinking about that trip. Many times I’ve desired to come back. Today I put my two children in daycare, left the house a mess, and brought my editing notebook with me to a table in the corner. I ordered my coffee “for here” so I wouldn’t be tempted to go home and check on the beef stew I have cooking for our house guests tonight.
I love the coffee shop atmosphere- mismatched plates, man buns, and music I wouldn’t normally listen to. If I hadn’t come I could have worked a little harder on scrubbing the kitchen. I could have made my own cup of black brew and not taken the risk of driving to the city.
When you mention the word “author”, the first person I think of is a celebrity who seems to have it all together. She is prolific, travels broadly, and posts about her day to day life without mention of the struggles of creating something she’s ready to publish.
When you mention the word “writer”, the first person I think of is someone like me. Someone who is not ready to share their novel with the world. I think of other writers who drink, eat too much, give up, complain.
I am proud of my words in the newspaper. I am more proud of the short stories I’ve published. And to help ensure I’m one day proud of my novel, I’ve developed a healthy reward system for myself for completing my daily writing goals.
The reward is not a full glass of red wine (which I can’t indulge in while breastfeeding) or a handful of candy (which I can’t indulge in while setting a good example for my one year old). Instead I wear a piece of jewelry related to writing. I don’t wear it on the day I complete my goal. I wear it the next day. This means I have the jewelry on to inspire me to keep going. I like seeing it and thinking about the work I did. If I don’t complete my goal, I want to wear it and it further motivates me to meet my goal on that day.
This system has kept me happy, sober, and not in a sugar coma.
What do you do to stay motivated? What do you think of when you hear the words “author” and “writer”?
For this year, my plan was to do one minute of editing per day of the year for all 365 days. Here are the benefits to my plan so far:
Easy to begin. Having two babies in a row has made it easy for me to say I don’t have time for my writing. But only expecting 1 minute from myself was difficult to deny. As the minutes build, it feels very natural and not overwhelming.
Encourages me to finish editing early. As the year progresses and the minutes increase, I expect I would have to not sleep in order to complete my goal. Instead, I cheat by doing more than my allotted minutes in the hopes of readying my manuscript before the end of the year.
Reminds me to think about editing as a daily task. It’s not about whether I’m going to edit, it’s about how long I will edit for. It’s not optional. Sure, some days I don’t put in the time equal to the day of the year. However any time is better than getting off track and ignoring my novel.
I have shared my goal with my writing buddy, and his encouragement has also helped me stay on track. I love being able to honestly tell him I am keeping my commitment on this.
How tenable would something like this be to you? Would you prefer it a different way?
Maternity leave is time you use to adjust to adding another person to your family. It’s also a great time to commit to daily writing or editing, and I’ll be blogging about that next month. However, there are things I miss about working:
Goals. Housework is an ever populated list directed by yourself. Work work is an directed by another’s expectations and to me that is refreshing. My company decides my work budget, minimum requirements, and gives approval to me when it is complete. I get to do activities, which I love, and creatively employ my solutions.
Ideas. More than one novel idea I have involves the geriatric population and dementia. My work gives me access to people and situations that provoke ideas. Also, when trying to describe things I see, I come away with great lines like “stomped vegetable nose”.
Income. It will take money to make money as an author, and working provides that resource. Also having a paycheck means I can afford traveling and other experiences that will enrich my stories.
Since I really do enjoy being an activity director, it’s difficult for me to imagine not being around seniors. Perhaps if I do need to give up traditional work in the future I can still volunteer to get my old people fix. My blog A Smile Among Wrinkles can tell you a little more about that part of my life.
Since I’ve experienced going past the 40 week mark with both babies, I feel able to talk about the preferences of overdue friends. In both circumstances I had people waiting on me to give birth before leave expired or a visit ended. Here is one way I described it:
My body is a single bedroom apartment staged for a solitary tenant- one bed, set of dishes, arm chair, etc. Yet I’m sharing it with someone. This is a person I love, but I can’t wait until they move out.
My suggestions for what not to do when your friend is overdue:
1. Ask if you’ve had the baby yet. It’s better to make the assumption your friend has not had the baby yet. Chances are they will tell you when they do. If they have given birth, they can make the happy correction.
2. Judge the way they spend their overdue time. The best an overdue person can do is spend that time the way they want to keep themselves comfortable and not go crazy. If they want to sleep the whole time, don’t tell them to talk a walk or a ride on a rocky road. If they want to nest, don’t tell them to put down the laundry basket and vacuum cleaner and just wait for their child to get here in a dirty house.
If your friend is overdue some things they might like:
1. Tell them simply you are thinking about them and that if they can think of anything you can do for them, including listening to their feelings, you are there.
2. Send snacks. Something non-perishable probably won’t go amiss right now and can be stored for post-baby hunger.
3. Tell them what is going on in your life. Give them something else to focus on.
4. Tell them how perfect sized their belly is. No one wants to hear how big they’ve gotten or worry about their belly being too small.
5. Ask what is the worst thing about their situation right now. Deciding between their discomforts and worries can help them feel validated and perhaps lead them to think about a solution for one big thing instead of feeling helpless among a bunch of things they can’t control.
The great thing about being overdue is that you can’t sleep and are antsy. Perfect time for writing and lots of negative emotions to use as creative fuel.
What are your thoughts on what to due and what not to due?
Your one year old is picky and wants to be held constantly. You want to write, but your hands are always full.
You are pregnant and not sleeping well. The time you could be writing is suddenly the time you might be able to rest.
You must maximize the time you and your spouse are both off and awake at the same time. The idea of facing a computer when you could be facing him is not acceptable.
You want to get caught up so you can focus when you get down to writing. Laundry, dishes, organizing, decorating, cooking, cleaning. Will you ever really be caught up?
You’re at work and would rather try to leave on time than bring your laptop and spend a half hour on your writing while the distractions of your home life are held at bay.
I can write all day about why I can’t write all day. What I’ve learned by creating this list is that I am not accountable to a routine and therefore can always make the choice not to write. Instead, I want to commit to 300 words a day.