Today I'm supposed to write about how sticking to a writing routine can save the day. Or not. That ties in perfectly to my January 4th post, in which I vowed to set a writing schedule for myself in an effort to find my way back into a middle grade novel project. I'd like to shout, "Yes! A schedule was exactly what I needed! I'm well into Chapter 5! Hallelujah!" That would be inspirational, wouldn't it? It would also be untrue.
For the first time in my writing life (16 years), I entered a new year feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects awaiting my attention. Hmm. Could I work on the novel for two hours per day, fitting other writing in around it? No. Turns out that, like Mary Ann, scheduled writing time makes me itchy. Plus, I'm much happier and more productive when focusing on one project at a time.
For a few weeks there, I just avoided my office. That led to many late-night struggles with monkey mind - our pastor's apt description for when you can't sleep because your thoughts keep jumping from one problem to another. Especially worrisome were three picture book projects editors were waiting for (no rush, but still). Throw in the same real life chores/business/family stuff we all deal with and you have enough stress to set anybody's teeth to grinding.
What finally worked to get me back on track was my old friend, list making. Prioritizing. And, hold the phone...what was that hovering down there at #6? Yep, the novel. So I've put it aside and begun chipping away at those projects higher on the list. And I've seen actual results.
1) A nonfiction picture book proposal is almost ready to go out the door.
2) A fiction pb has been tweaked per an editor's suggestions.
3) My messy pile of writing-related receipts stuffed into a drawer and ignored through most of 2012, otherwise known as "important stuff my husband's going to ask for any minute while he gets tax info together," is now collated and duly recorded and in perfect order. (He may faint.)
And I'm feeling much, much better about the situation. As are my jaws.
Routine has saved the day, at least in part. I spend most mornings in my office, chipping away at that list. For me, though, balance is imperative. So I opened another creative outlet. Months ago, I picked out fabric* for a quilt I wanted to make. I finally sketched a design, calculated the pieces I'd need, and got to work. Piecing a quilt, unlike writing, lets me see results quickly. I think - no, I know - that those afternoons in my basement sewing studio have been therapeutic.
*the centers of the squares look black in this pic, but they are
actually a dark coffee brown.
And, #6? Don't worry, I see you down there. Hang tight. I'm on my way.