Anyone who has ever tried to lose a little weight can tell you that change is not an easy thing. Successful weight-loss usually means a change in eating habits, an increase in activity and a lot of motivational help from others. In other words, a change in lifestyle.
Writing isn’t a whole lot different. Instead of changing your eating habits, you are changing other habits to make time for putting pen to paper. The increase in activity is analogous to sitting down and actually creating the stories. Motivational help… well that is definitely a key requirement too and part of the reason StartingWriteNow exists.
Just like the calorie-filled goodies that seem to be all around us, there are ample distractions to keep us from writing. It could be a favorite television programme, family activities, date nights or whatever. At the end of the day, it becomes too easy to curse yourself for being weak because you didn’t achieve your goals.
But what exactly are your goals? Do you have them written down? Have you set yourself a clear path to follow? Every self-help guru I’ve ever heard who talks about improvements of any kind extolls the virtue of writing down your goals. I know for myself, any time I’ve written down a goal it has been much easier to achieve.
Going one step further and publicizing the goal(s) adds additional incentive to succeed (who wants to be ridiculed by one’s friends and enemies for failure?).
Once you’ve written down your goals (make them time-specific) you need to post them where you will see them. Maybe you set a calendar appointment in your Outlook calendar (iCalendar/whatever) that tells you to start writing everyday.
One mistake I’ve made and I know others have too is to set a finite time-limit. For example, I did my 30-in-30 self-challenge for short-stories. I was able to achieve 29 short stories in 30-days which isn’t bad. The bad thing is I haven’t kept writing every single day since.
Still, all is not lost. I have been averaging either writing or editing 4-days out of every 7. I have let myself (yes, let myself) slide in the past few days because I’ve been trying to migrate all of my work and applications over to my new Macbook. I need to quit using the migration as an excuse and keep writing. I still have paper and pencil if necessary (and three other computers in the house) so the migration shouldn’t be any reason to stop.
The good news is that writing is finally becoming an ingrained habit; there has been a nagging… something… on the days when I’ve gone to bed without writing or editing. I’ve also got these really awesome ideas for my first book. Ideas that I know will make it much better and I can’t wait to get them down on paper.
Should you beat yourself up if you don’t get into the habit right away? Heck no! Have you ever heard the theory that if you do something for 21-days straight it becomes a habit? I don’t know who originated the theory but I have seen myself and many other prove that it is a load of hogswash. The only way something will become a habit is if you want it to be whether you do it 21-days straight or 210-days straight. Diligence is important but desire is the key.
So my advice to myself (and to anyone else who wants it) is to keep my focus on what I want to do which is write stories. If I miss the mark once in a while, ignore what I haven’t done and move on to what I want to do.
Back in January I sent out 9 query letters for one of my books. I got an email from a publisher almost immediately asking to see 3 chapters and the synopsis which I sent. The publisher came back about 10-days later asking for the manuscript.
Nothing back yet, but the publisher has confirmed that she has the manuscript and will be looking at it. She just hasn’t had the chance to read it yet.
This week I got a response from another publisher (based on the query letter) asking to see 3 – 4 chapters. I’ll save you the trouble of counting; that’s 3-months between query letter and request. Still, that’s two publishers that have expressed some interest in the book. If the first publisher passes on the book, I’ll send the 3 – 4 chapters to the second one and we’ll see.
I’m trying to learn patience, I really am.
See you next week.