No Excuses

By on May 20, 2011 in Writing

Part of my novel-writing commitment has been to post daily progress updates (excluding weekends, those are for other responsibilities) in the form of status updates to Twitter, Facebook, etc. It discourages shirking, and having friends root you on is great motivation. This is a process, so why not share its success and failures?

Along the way there have been several comments from people admiring my dedication but lamenting that their lives were too busy for their own creative pursuits. I say bollocks. It’s not that I don’t respect other people’s hectic schedules, trust me I do, in the way that only a fellow workaholic can. It’s just that I made that excuse for years, I know what it really means. I used to say I would find time to write, and I did, but as soon as other deadlines loomed large on the horizon all progress would grind to a halt. The problem was in the basic terminology: “find time to write.” Time is not something you ever find. If you wait for that to happen you might just find yourself waiting forever. Life does not work that way. It took me a long time to learn that, even though much of this advice was originally passed on to me by successful, busy novelists with day jobs.

The correct terminology should be: “I will make time to write.” Ask yourself, how important is writing to you? What are you willing to sacrifice to buy yourself an hour a day? Assess your routine. When do your creative juices flow the best? Now, what would it take to clear yourself a 60-minute block sometime during that time? Could you get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later? Play fewer video games or watch a little less TV? Reduce your online surfing? The decision is yours to make.

If you do decide to make writing a priority for an hour a day, then treat it like a religion. You are making a lifestyle change. Let your loved ones know and ask them to respect your process. Then stick to it, be consistent and only skip days when circumstances are completely beyond your control. Do it even if you’ve got writer’s block or are plagued with interruptions or being haunted by a deadline. The point is to get into a habit and get something – no matter whether it’s ten words or ten pages – done on your project every single day. It may feel like baby steps, but it will add up.

Three weeks into my own personal commitment, I have nearly 50 pages of solid output to show for my efforts. If I keep up this modest pace, in a another month I’ll have roughly 100 pages and by the end of August I’ll be well past 200. By late October, over 300. Meaning I should be hitting completion very near to my Dec. 6th self-imposed deadline. (Xmas holidays will hopefully be spend editing, reworking, tweaking and polishing.) A novel under my belt by the end of the year for the low, low cost of one hour a day, five hours a week.

I have no excuses.

How about you?

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