I know I’m not old. After all, I’m only 28. But there are days I feel it. There are days that I look back and I honestly wonder how I used to do everything I did at 20-23. I went to school full time, I worked a part time job, I helped run a creative writing club, and I started my writing career as well as spent 6-10 hours a week volunteering.
I’m not saying all this to brag. In fact, just typing that made me feel tired.
This past week, I found myself pushing a little closer to a deadline than I preferred to. Because of that, I had to push myself in ways I haven’t in years.
At the time, I was stressed. And honestly, right now? I’m exhausted and plan to spend my next day off catching up on sleep and doing a whole lot of nothing. But it was a bit exhilarating. Gosh, I haven’t had to write at that kind of breakneck pace in a LONG time and honestly I did write some of the best stuff I’ve put out in a bit.
And, after all that, I know I have it in me to push even if I feel like I don’t. Which is nice, because I honestly wasn’t sure I had that in me any more.
What’s the point?
Honestly, after all this time y’all should be used to me taking a good bit to get to my point. As I return with my column, I want to give you something that might help you.
1) Have a Support System
I would not have been able to do this without my friends. Whether it was them taking other stuff off my plate so I could focus on writing, or helping me by editing, or suggesting ways to improve the piece, it would not have gotten done on time without their help.
Some people think that writing is a solitary activity but it takes an army to get a book from an author’s head to the point where it’s ready to be published. Honestly, I don’t understand how people can do it all themselves – or why they’d want to.
If you find yourself against a tight deadline, turn towards your support system. Maybe it’s a fellow writer who can edit your piece and make sure you’re not missing something rather obvious. Maybe it’s friends and family who can make sure you get some sleep or eat or do things you might forget to do.
Maybe they’re there to give you a pep talk. James has had to give me quite a few the last few days.
2) Take Some Time for Self-Care
If nothing else, for at least 30 minutes a day, I’m trying to take time to read. I’ve heard that writers are like sponges, we soak up words when we read and then pour them out when we write. So I’m trying to get back in the habit of reading more. I’ve already read several books this year. and I’m hoping that by taking words in that I’ll be able to improve my craft.
You’ve got to take care of yourself. So, even though I was pressed to meet this deadline, I still took that 30 minutes a day to read. And I think it helped. I noticed as I came back, I was a bit more refreshed.
Also, I discovered a new (for me) mystery team and as I’m reading, I’m finding stuff I love about their style. It’s helped me understand some of James’ notes on my next book.
Take some time away from your story. Maybe you read, maybe you draw, or maybe you do another hobby. Maybe you take a long, hot bath. Whatever it is, take time for you.
And maybe figure out how to sleep. That’s one thing I wish I’d gotten a bit more of the last few days.
3) Push Yourself
I think I’ve gotten a bit complacent in my writing schedule at times. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve pushed myself as hard as I did over the last few days. But, all the help in the world isn’t going to do a thing if you aren’t willing to push yourself to get done what you need to.
And it’s hard. And you’re going to want to give up. There was a point a few days ago where I went “there’s no way I can get this done” and I would sit there for a moment and feel stressed, maybe take a second to walk away, and then come back. Because I knew I could get it done, no matter how i felt.
4) Set Daily Goals
Sometimes looking at something in bulk makes it feel a bit overwhelming. I almost always have to break things down into bite sized chunks, and this project was no different. I would go into a day and set a goal, “I want to hit this by the end of the day” and then I would have something attainable to work on.
Yes, the goal is to finish your project. But by setting little goals, you get smaller versions of that accomplished feeling along the way.
Hit your daily goal?
Didn’t hit it?
Don’t beat yourself up, but you’d better catch up over the next day or so.
At the end of the day, I did hit my word count. The project is done and sent off where it needed to go. I know there’s more to come, it will need some edits and some things will get tweaked along the way. That’s just part of the process.
I’m just feeling so accomplished that this project is done. I’m feeling relieved that I got it in before the deadline.
And I’m happy knowing that, if push comes to shove, maybe I can channel my younger self and crank out words like I used to.
But…maybe I’ll look for a happy medium.
Before I go, I want to let you know about a cool opportunity I had. I’ve become a monthly contributor on Stage 32’s blog. If you want more of my writing thoughts, check it out.
See you next time!