One of the keys to completing a novel—actually I think this is the biggest, hardest of them all—is the self-discipline to sit down day after day and put words on a page. The story can always be revised, grammar and punctuation learned and corrected, but the act of doing the work consistently and making forward progress, forgiving your errors in favor of reaching THE END, is the ultimate key.
A schedule, a daily rhythm to the madness, is what helps pull me through. When the schedule gets messed up, as it does 80% of the time, it’s hard to find during that remaining 20%. Recently I went to a conference, then I came home to Spring Break—kids everywhere, not an hour free. Today was the kids’ first day back at school (maniacal laughter from their mom), which means my first real day at the computer.
I’ve actually been struggling for a while with my schedule. I’ve always started the day on email and FB, with a little Twitter thrown in. But lately that time online has lengthened into “research” then random surfing. Once my mind is in that skippy, feed-me entertainment zone, it’s an act of herculean proportions to settle into a story.
But I think I may have found the solution. At the conference there was a panel on writing through adversity that has stayed with me. During the discussion, one of the authors (either on the panel or in the room) talked about her schedule, and today I stole it. Bwhahahaha! I am pleased to report seven pages. Today I was a rock star.
The change was simple. I moved my workout from the evening to the morning. In the past I’ve never wanted to give up peaceful writing time for something that I could do later with the kids running wild around me. (Earphones are awesome.) But that author was right. Somehow during a workout my imagination goes to the stories I’m working on. So instead of coasting online and then trying my hardest to buckle down, I gave up 45 min to the elliptical machine (sadistic torture device) and thereafter became galvanized to write. I’m saved.