I spent last month in South Africa, soaking up sun, the wonderful company of my family, and as much story fodder as possible. Usually when I travel, I continue to write every day, but this time there were too many other distractions.
So now I’m beginning the process of starting to write all over again, and yikes! It’s tough. Maybe it’s just January, as Sam pointed out yesterday. But I suspect 3 culprits:
Slow build-up. It took me 10 years to decide to be a writer, then another 10 years studying and practicing, then another 10 years before I made my first sale. Granted, I started this process at age 12, but now I don’t have the luxury of that slow build-up anymore.
Exercising the habit muscle. Sitting down in my writer’s chair every day is a habit, and we all know what happens to habits and flabby muscles when we stop exercising them, right?
Rhythm and story flow. With a properly exercised habit muscle, the writer finds her rhythm, and words flow. When this rhythm is interrupted for whatever reason, it’s like a large boulder diverting a river channel. It takes a while for the water working its way around the obstacle before it regains its original direction of flow.
No wonder beginning again is tough! But what can we do to make the process of beginning again any easier?
For me, it’s all about goals. Goals keep me on track. They’re more like a road map to keep me going in the right direction. All I have to do to succeed is to stay on the road. Pamela’s and Peg’s posts this month made me realize that my road-map goals are really more about intentions and systems.
Last year on the blog I stated my goal to write 200k words in 2016. Well, I didn’t reach it, but I’m still pretty happy with what I did–150k words. That’s a win for me! I am definitely still on my road map, and now my map shows me what I need to do in 2017.
While it’s tempting to cut my goals back to a safer 150k words, I’m not going to. I need to keep stretching myself, and I need to work on better consistency. Those are my intentions for 2017. The system to get there will be one day at a time. I know what projects I want to do, and I know how much time I will have available to do them. It works out to 190k words. So, that’s my goal for 2017. Will I do it? Who knows? I hope so! But the word count really isn’t as important as having a more consistent system in place.
Do you find it tough to begin again?