Posts Tagged 'writing priority'

How I Got Back on Track

For the first time in a little over three weeks I finally got back to work on Sky again.

I left off July 9,  working through Chapter 3 again, because Chapter 3 leads into Chapter 5, and Chapter 5 leads into Chapter 7, which is where I got stuck.

I have felt so lost for so long, I’d begun to wonder what was wrong with me. Then yesterday I had the vague memory that things had been as chaotic for me in the process of writing previous books as they are for this one. Particularly Return of the Guardian King.  I can’t seem to find the writing journal I kept for that one — it might be in my trunk of memorabilia buried at the back of the closet…but I didn’t want to go to all the trouble — and spend all the time — of getting it out. That’s when I recalled that there was probably something up on my old blog which I began back in February of 2006.

Sure enough, there was. I was starting Chapter 11 of RotGK, and having the same sorts of trouble as I am now. The very first entry starts out:

I’m supposed to be working on chapter 11 of my work in progress — Light out of Shadow. But I seem to be a master at self-distraction. The thing is, I’ve enjoyed reading others’ blogs and I’ve been thinking about starting one of my own for some time now. So I guess it’s not a huge surprise when I couldn’t seem to make myself get to work today on account of numerous interruptions and external distractions… that I should suddenly find myself here, completing one step after another (there were more than the three they advertised at the start of this) in setting up this blog.’

And the second one, There and Back Again,  detailed a process of story generation that is very much like the one I’m in the middle of now. It was exactly what I needed to read, to recall that I just have to get something down, that it’s going to change, and that that’s okay. Sure, make it fit as best I can, make it as plausible and consistent as I can, but don’t demand a lot from a first pass.  It’s just my way of getting some sort of framework sketched in.

I’d forgotten that I was supposed to be sketching, and started getting perfectionistic.

The thing I love about what I wrote in There and Back Again, is that it reminded me how uncomfortable and blind my process is. How I can have no clue what to do one day, way too many options, unable to choose and then the next day, one little thing seems to lead to another and before I know it I have a sequence.

It reminded me of how I can look at what I’ve done, be dissatisfied, come up with some alternative ideas that seem to work and then be unable to write them. When I try they just lie there, dead and dull. Then after a couple of days, and a few seemingly minor tweaks, all comes clear. The chapter which formerly was “a disaster” and “ALL wrong” and “never going to come right”  somehow comes right.

One day it’s AWFUL and HOPELESS; the next I wonder what in the world I was thinking, because it’s clearly just fine.

Reading through that post, being reminded of all that helped me get back into Sky today.

I also received a number of hits from the Lord concerning the matter of priorities.

First Pastor John taught on our number one priority in the Christian life being to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Is that really your #1 priority?” he asked.

Well, yes, of course it is, and I know that doesn’t just mean the daily reception of Bible teaching, it also means application of that teaching and, once one has grown enough, operating in the spiritual gift one has been given.

Not an hour later I started listening to a presentation by Thomas Umstattd over at the Bestseller Society on Time Management and in the first 4 minutes heard:

“If you don’t manage your time, the world will do it for you. Anything around you — coworkers, the world, your boss, your family, the TV…  those will fill up your hours for you.”

“When we say, “I don’t have time for something,” what we’re really saying is “That’s not as important as the other things that I do.”

and

“You can tell what your priorities are by how you spend your time. We have what we believe our priorities to be and then we have what they really are.”

All of that together coming in just a few hours, convicted me. I have not been giving writing the proper spot in my priorities.  “Whatever is most important to you,” said Umstattd, “that needs to be the first thing in how you schedule your time.”

So, I’ve reconfigured things a bit, and today using the pomodoro technique (modified) I put in 3 1/2 hours on Sky — first thing after I finished my morning routine. And that makes me very happy.  😀

Unrealistic Expectation

Well, it’s been two days since I resolved to be more disciplined and dedicated to getting to work writing “on time.” And both days there were, indeed, problems. Yesterday my husband unexpectedly decided to stay home from work so he could drive to Phoenix to look for  a new car since he’s not been able to find any that he wants here. Before he left there was a strange discombobulation during the making of breakfast, during which I burned the waffles and my bacon fell on the floor right in front of Quigley’s dish — while he was eating!

Needless to say, the bacon disappeared in a heartbeat.

Anyway, after that weirdness, DH took a nap, then left for Phoenix. The original plan was that if he found a car to his liking, he’d buy it, drive it home and then I’d drive him back to Phoenix to pick up the rental he has been driving. That’s a drive of about three hours round trip, if the traffic isn’t terrible, but I was not wanting to do it.  Not only would it be exhausting in itself, but I’d be out of it for probably two days and who knew if I’d be able to make myself report for duty in the office. And even if I did, would I be able to do anything writing-wise in my tired state?

And here I’d just resolved to make writing a priority.

As it turned out, he was able to leave the rental at the Enterprise branch in Phoenix and we didn’t have to make the second drive, which was an answer to prayer — a very specific answer because what I’d asked was that wherever my hubby found the car he wanted could there please be an Enterprise branch nearby? And that is exactly what happened. Only it wasn’t just nearby, it was part of the dealership! He just left the rental right there.

Thank you, Lord!

So, not only was there a cool answer to prayer, the whole situation only made it clearer that it’s time to get back to work and in that strengthened my resolve further.

So this morning I was focused on getting to my desk by 9am. There were to be no distractions today, no reason for everything not to go smoothly, I wasn’t even going to have to fix breakfast because my husband had brought home a sticky bun from his Phoenix adventures and I already had coffee in the refrigerator from yesterday. So I rolled through my morning routine, and was excited to get ALL of it done by 8:40, got out the sticky bun, went to get out the coffee…

Where was it? Not in the refrigerator, though I looked twice. How could it not be there? Where was it? And then it dawned on me… the freezer?

I would have put it there yesterday when I first made it because that’s what I do to get it cooled off quickly. But yesterday, remember, there was that weird discombobulation and in the midst of all the chaos, I didn’t put the coffee in the refrigerator, as I was supposed to,  I put it back in the freezer. So it was frozen solid!

I spent about twenty minutes trying to get it thawed  (couldn’t put it in the microwave because I’d have broken the Pyrex pitcher it was in). Thus the Kingdom of Darkness got in two hits for the price of one with that business in the kitchen yesterday.

In the past I would have reacted, gotten frustrated, given up… but today I put all that aside and told myself I had to just keep trying. It probably was never going to be perfect but as long as I keep trying and keep getting to the desk even if it is half an hour late, that’s all I can ask.  That’s kind of a paraphrase of some of the things Flylady says…  “Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family.”  “Babysteps.” “Your house didn’t get trashed in a day, it’s not going to get fixed in a day.”

It all boils down to perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Those really need to be ditched. They’re arrogant and unreasonable and really just sap the joy out of life. Rarely will we do anything truly perfect, thus to expect it, or worse demand it, is to guarantee we’ll be dissatisfied.

Besides, if we’ve believed in Christ we’re already perfect through His work on the Cross and there’s not one thing we can do to make ourselves one bit more holy and righteous than He’s already made us. Plus we have an enemy as I mentioned last post. So things are mostly not going to go smoothly, no matter how hard we try for perfection.

A better approach is to just get over the imperfection of our efforts and move forward.

So I did. And I had a very good day. I have finally made a breakthrough on chapter one… cut the first 4 pages, brought the scene on page 5 to the fore and started through it. Things were clicking this morning. It was very cool.

Tomorrow I have no obvious distractions on the calendar, but I’m not going to make any predictions about what will happen. Only that I’m more determined than ever to make writing a priority.

 


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