As a mom with a full-time job, I’ve always had to squeeze time out of my busy schedule for writing. I’ve been writing steadily for about fifteen years, but for the first few years it was hit and miss, a little writing here, a little writing there. No pressure or time constraints and no real goals, other than to finish the manuscript I was working on . . . at some point.
In my forties, with the ugly Five-O on the horizon, I got serious about my writing. If I was going to do this, I’d better get cracking, I told myself. I was going to finish this darn book and get published before my fiftieth birthday.
Good grief, fifty! Where did all the time go? If I didn’t do this thing by then, it was all over but the crying.
Shows you how naive I was, with no real idea of the odds and difficulties I would face as an unknown writer on the road to publication. Ignorance is bliss, they say.
At any rate, with Doomsday looming ahead, most days I managed to carve out some writing time. I had a goal, a self-imposed deadline to meet, with ‘dead’ being the operative word.
D-Day crept closer and closer.
As writing daily became a regular habit, I began to get anxious if I didn’t get my daily dose of prose. There were still plenty of days when life intruded upon my creative efforts, so I cut myself a little slack. I set a weekly goal of writing a chapter a week, which for me averages anywhere from 2500 to 3700 words. That way, if I missed a day because of work or the kids, I could make it up the next day without feeling guilty or anxious.
Did I mention that guilt is a motivating factor for me? Guilt is my friend and my enemy. It keeps me on the straight and narrow, but it also makes me crazy as a June bug.
I finished the fantasy manuscript I was working on before Doomsday, but I didn’t get published. I have the pile of rejection letters to prove it. A quite impressive pile of rejection letters, I must say.
Fifty came and went and I kept writing. I decided to try my hand at something else, a romance about Addy, a small town Southern florist and a hunky immortal demon slayer named Brand. Lo and behold, thanks to luck, prayer and a lot of help from friends, DEMONS IN DIXIE sold! Whoo hoo!
Now I am facing my first deadline set by the publisher and not my inner nag. I have a 30,000 word novella due in July. Having learned a little about time management and goal setting over the years, I’m trying to write 10,000 words a month. A highly doable goal, I think, given the fact I haven’t quit my day job or turned in my mom card. I reached my goal in April and I’m aiming for 12,000 words in May.
When you set out to eat an elephant, take small bites. That’s my philosophy and it works for me.
What about you? Do daily/weekly/monthly goals work for you? How do you get yourself motivated and keep your butt in the chair?
Oh, and by the way, I’m fifty-three. Life didn’t end at fifty and neither did my passion for writing.
Or my ability to dream and reach for that brass ring.
Hmm, wonder what I should shoot for at sixty?