Every writer knows the insistent call: there are dishes in the sink, 61 unread emails, the dog needs a bath, prepare for that book club appearance, make that dentist appointment …maybe if I just take care of those things first, then I can write. But “those things” are gluttonous; they devour the day.
And the next day: I have a meeting to go to this afternoon, can’t start anything now, might as well do the laundry and clean the fridge, return those phone calls, answer those emails. And there’s always the marketing: make the phone calls, deliver the packets, schedule appearances.
But the real reason writing time is sporadic? I have too many projects, chapters, and blog articles in my head, and want to do them all at once. Can’t settle down and do just one.
Last night, after getting home from a long weekend attending a granddaughter’s graduation from UW in Seattle, I was too tired to write. But I wanted to start out Monday morning writing! I made a list of projects, their current status, and the single next step needed to make progress on each one. Then it seemed easier.
Status: Plot/scene outline completed; Five pieces reviewed, must revise
Single next step: Pick one piece, revise it
2. SEQUEL TO WATER
Status: Many chapters done, must revise to reflect Looking Through Water
Single next step: Draft a new Chapter One
3. “ON CAREGIVING”—Postlogue/sequel to Five Stages of Getting Well: Requested by publisher of Chinese translation of Five Stages
Status: Two pieces written; this could be another book
Single next step: Revise “Shut Up. And Don’t Leave.” and send to publisher
Simply organizing the tasks in this way freed up my mind. Immediately, I saw that I could revise the “Shut Up” piece before I went to bed. It turned out to take only half an hour and left me feeling ready for the next day. Today.
It’s 9:20 a.m., and I’ve done a second revision of “Shut Up,” sent it off, and posted it on my other blog. Check!
Now I’m going to start to work on the first chapter of the Sequel to Water. I know where to start, because a month or so ago I made a chart for the four sections of the novel, and plotted 12 scenes for each section. It turned out I had already written (before Water) 39 of the 48 scenes. But 11 of them require major revision. I’ll need to do a mini-biography of each character in light of Water. Lots to do. But for now, I have to tackle that first chapter. I’ll do the bios later.
Finally, after a couple of months of running in place, with lots of distractions, most of them necessary, I’m back on track. And now, I’ve added a fourth item to the project list:
4. UPDATE BOTH BLOGS
Status: Not much, lately
Single next step: Write and post an article on Procrastination for the author blog