Resolved–to Write

When I retired two-plus years ago, my main goal was to write full time—to produce more short stories, polish the novels I have in various stages of completion, blog more—and to get published. The good news is I can say, with accuracy, that all of that has happened. Just not with the consistency and frequency I expected. And that’s my fault.

I’m most happy when I’m writing, when I go into the world I’ve created in my novels, when I carve out little bits of reality (or fantasy) in a short story. I just don’t do that often enough. I have made a conscious effort to consider and call myself a writer, to get validation from my local writers group and critique group, and to be inspired by the circle of writer friends I’ve cultivated. Again, I can say that, too, has happened.

The problem is, I don’t write enough. I don’t focus myself as well as I should, mainly because I wanted a complete separation from the world of work. Writing is work, and it should be; otherwise, I’d just write cute little stories for my friends and family to read in the annual holiday letter.

A writer friend of mine, Cliff Garstang, has hit the mark for me with a recent blog post. Cliff periodically posts “Tips for Writers,” and his December 9, 2011, post, “Finding the Time to Write,” made me sit up and take notice of how I approach my writing. It wasn’t a pleasant sight.

About the only advice from that post I can’t take is “Get up earlier.” The “Work later” part is easy—I am often most inspired when the day is done. Why can’t I get up earlier? Too many years of rising at oh-dark-hundred for a variety of reasons, but I can work back into it. Gradually. Cliff makes the time to write, and his writing work ethic is inspiring—he shuts away all external distractions and just creates. Though Cliff often goes to writing retreats (something I need to try), he works to re-create that atmosphere at home, which he describes in his December 7, 2011, post, “Bring the Retreat Home.”

Another writer friend of mine, Jennie Coughlin, is in a writing frenzy right now, working on a series of novels about her fictional New England town, Exeter, and its denizens. (Take a look at her blog Welcome to Exeter and marvel at this ambitious schedule she’s set for herself.) She works a full-time job and a part-time job and gives up what free time she has to writing, including publishing the occasional short story as well as character sketches on her blog. Her word output is amazing, and she’s considering a challenge to write a half a million words next year. I’m sure she’ll make it.

You can see I have a lot to live up to. And the pressure on me is mine. I need to do what I said I was going to do when I retired. As Stephen King once said, writing is my job, and I need to stop being a part-timer.

So, I’ve done the dreaded thing, and set up a [shudder] work schedule for writing starting January 1, 2012. It’s a modest start to organizing my free time around what I’ve said is my profession. Right now, it needs to be flexible so I don’t rebel and to accommodate spending time with family and friends and my exercise regimen. It could be a colossal failure—wouldn’t be my first—but it could get me back on track.

Here we go:

Monday            0800 – 1000: Blog about writing or publish a book review on my blog

1400 – 1700: Edit/revise a novel WIP

Tuesday            0800 – 1100: Edit/revise a short story WIP or identify a publication to submit to

1400 – 1700: Edit/revise a novel WIP

Wednesday       0900 – 1100: Blog about politics

1400 – 1700: Edit/revise a novel WIP

Thursday           0800 – 1100: Edit/revise a short story WIP or identify a publication to submit to

1400 – 1700: Something new—a short story or a novel idea

Friday                 0800 – 1000: Blog about writing, publish a book review on my blog, and/or 100-word

flash fiction

1300 – 1500: Submissions—the actual act of doing so—or developing a query letter

Saturday and Sunday: Two to three hours of reading and/or writing reviews

Your job, dear readers, is to point out that I’m not doing what I said I would do. Just think of the possibilities—getting to tell me to get my ass moving. 😉

One thought on “Resolved–to Write

  1. Pingback: 2011 The Year in Writerly review « Madison Woods

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