Sunday, October 31, 2010

Writing Weekend: A Bad Week

It's probably inevitable that the last week of October was a bad writing week for me. I was overdue, and I'd set myself up for it. Over the course of the month, I'd:

1) Sent in a proposal for next summer's RWA National entitled "How to Write Like a Full-Time Author When You Can't Quit Your Day Job."

2) Blogged about the same topic, and how I manage to write 1000 words/day most days, while a guest at Pink Fuzzy Slippers last week.

3) Generally been praised by lots of fellow writers for the amazing amount I get done despite having a full-time job and a kid.

That's the kind of thing that'll give a girl a case of hubris. But after this week, I'm feeling properly humble. I only wrote 1000 words or so all week, instead of the 5000-7000 I'd been managing earlier in the month. To add insult to injury, the chaos and lack of productivity didn't stay isolated to my writing--the house got messier, we lived off takeout and fast food while ingredients I'd bought to cook moldered in the fridge, and (no surprise) when I weighed in at Weight Watchers yesterday, I was up 0.8 lbs.

What went wrong?

1) I had a minor crisis at work, nothing earth-shattering, but one that forced me to spend a whole week working hard on my least favorite aspect of my job. This sapped my desire to make an effort toward everything else in my life.

2) I had a cold. Again, nothing dire, but enough to drain my energy for everything from writing to spending 45 minutes in the kitchen instead of 4 to 5 minutes looking up the menu and placing an order with Snappy Dragon.

3) I thought of a better approach to the opening chapters of my new manuscript. In the long run, this is a Good Thing, but in the short run it means going back to somewhere around the 2000-word mark of my 15,000-word manuscript and starting over. I was sufficiently annoyed at myself for not thinking of the better approach in the first place that I couldn't bring myself to sail straight into the new version without a break. (Really, Self, you had your heroine only MENACING her future mentor/friend/lover with a pistol instead of actually SHOOTING him?! A nice non-lethal GSW is a SO much better hook to end Chapter One.)

So what do I do about my Week of Fail? Well, I'm already past the feeling sorry for myself and self-berating stage--luckily for you who are reading this blog, as that stage isn't pretty. Since this is turning into a Post of Lists, here's my plan to make the first week of November better than the last one of October:

1) Accept that Weeks of Fail happen and don't make me a failure. I just had a bad week. It's happened before. It'll happen again. The key is to not let it turn into a Month of Fail.

2) Step away from my unrealistic to-do lists. I have a bad habit of overestimating how much I can get done in a given chunk of time, and so feel like a failure even if I've worked hard and accomplished a reasonable amount. Instead, I'm going to take a couple of weeks to focus on how much time I spend on work (broadly defined as everything from my day job to writing to cooking to blogging and so on...anything that's not pure leisure) rather than whether I can cross everything off my to-do list every day.

3) This is somewhat a contradiction to #2, but attempt NaNoWriMo. Why? Because it makes me feel excited rather than depressed about starting my manuscript all over again. I don't expect to get to 50,000 words by 11/30, because I'm expecting my line edits for A Marriage of Inconvenience mid-month. But I'll just subtract the number of days it takes me to do the edits and adjust my target word count accordingly.

So. That's the plan. Hopefully next weekend I'll have good progress to report.

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