One Thing We Can Do To Help Us Write Every Day

Lately I’ve been swamped with a to-do list that’s a mile long. I’m learning that the time surrounding the release of a book is always an extra busy time. While I’m really enjoying my blog tour for The Doctor’s Lady, it’s been a lot more work than I anticipated. There are also a hundred and one other marketing details that need attention every day.

In addition to my writing career moving into full speed, my personal life is hectic too. School has started. I’m busy running my kids to all of their activities. And I’m also helping one of my family members through a difficult time.

On more than one occasion during this stressful time, I’ve been tempted to put aside my WIP (work in progress). I’m about a quarter of the way into the book (25K) and have wondered if I need to quit for a few weeks until things settle down and life becomes more manageable.

I fully realize there are times in our lives when we need to lay down our writing. I’ve been there. In fact, as most of you know, I completely stopped writing for quite a number of years when I was busy having babies.

But now that I’m in middle of a full-fledged commitment to a writing career, I’ve had to evaluate more carefully my writing schedule.

The bottom line is that I’ll always be busy. If I’m not marketing one book, I’ll likely be doing rewrites on another. Or researching one. Or writing up a synopsis. Or filling out a publicity questionnaire. Or preparing for a speaking engagement. Or writing up blog posts. Or whatever.

When is busyness a valid excuse for setting aside our writing and our WIPs? And when is it just that—an excuse?

During this stressful past month, I haven’t always managed to meet my weekly goal of 6000 words. But I’ve kept very close. I’ve tried to write most days. And here’s the one thing that’s helped me most, the one thing I do every day that helps me to keep writing:

I sit down and make myself do it.

Not too profound, is it?

But that’s my secret. Every day, even though there are a thousand other things that demand my attention, or things I could be doing, emails to answer, tweets to respond to, blog tour stops to visit, etc., etc., etc., I ignore them. For just a little while.

And I simply write.

I turn off my email notification bell. I close up twitter. I put on my headphones and turn on Pandora. And I open my manuscript and make myself write . . . Even though I’m stressed about everything else I need to do. Even though I really want to finish my mile-long to-do list before I write.

I let everything else fall by the wayside. Sure my mind is still cluttered. My life isn’t neat and tidy. It’s not ideal. But I take what I’ve got and I make the most of it.

Because, really, what good will come of all that other writerly stuff I’m doing, all that social media, all the promoting, IF I don’t keep writing my books? Writing has to stay THE priority amidst all of the other writing career demands.

So each day I stick to my commitment as best I can.

Because that’s how we write one page. One page becomes two. Then the next day three. Then four. Until eventually we have a completed book in front of us, and we’re amazed at how far we’ve come.

And no, writing through the mundane busyness of life doesn’t stifle my creativity. In fact, once I actually sit down and force myself to pound away at the keyboard, I find that the writing and the story brings me fresh energy and excitement and passion. (Not every day!) But overall, the creative process is something that rejuvenates me.

What about you? Have you been making too many excuses lately for why you’re not writing? Do you just need to sit down and do it?

Here are a few more stops in my blog tour you won't want to miss! (And of course, WIN my book!)

Friday 9/16: Come find out on Carol Garvin's blog what meal I would take with me if I knew I was going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month!

Friday 9/16: On Rel Mollet's blog I share 5 things I can't live without and the most interesting place I've been!

Saturday 9/17:  Holly Smith on her blog asks me to reveal how I find ideas for my blog posts!

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  1. To answer your questions: yes and yes! Isn't it funny (not funny "ha ha") that in writing, work, family, and everything else, so many extra things get in the way and seem to demand our attention.

    Why is that? I'm a social worker and more and more it seems that the main emphasis is on paperwork so we can support what we're doing, though we're actually doing less and less of it - because of paperwork! What's up with that?!

    Now that the rant is over... :) ... I have found that if I will just sit down to write - even when I have no idea where the chapter is going - I actually end up with some good stuff. That's a relief!

  2. I think I've forgotten this lately. At the very least, I'd forgotten that I should be enjoying the writing, and not thinking about whether my last blog post was any good or wondering what parts I'll have to edit later.

  3. Sherri, I didn't know you were a social worker! I used to be long ago, and the paper work was bad then! I'm sure it hasn't gotten any better!

    And Paul, after all that you've gone through lately, I'm sure you've had plenty of days where you've had to force yourself to sit down and just write. And the enjoyment may take some time to recapture. Don't be too hard on yourself.

  4. Thanks for the reminder Jody! I get up early in the morning and write everyday but Sunday. That's my favorite time to write because it's distraction free, and I'm not thinking about my to-do list yet, only about coffee. :-)

  5. That's something I hadn't thought of, Jody, but I think you're right. I pushed myself to just write as much as possible and get my second book finished. I think I did lose that sense of enjoyment there because I was so afraid to do anything else.

  6. You're hitting me right where it hurts. This is my year for family to be my primary concern, but I'm at the other end of the life-cycle. The first half of this year was devoted to a dear maiden aunt who was dying of lung cancer. Somehow during those days I also started searching for a retirement center for my parents, because their health has deteriorated to the point where it's become necessary. Now, that my aunt is gone and I've dissolved her household, I'm spending my days helping my mom sort through sixty years of marriage, so she and Dad can make their move.
    But I'm also in another part of my writing career - the looking for an agent part. I've attended a few conferences this year, started a blog and keep sending out query letters. However, most of the time, it is all I can do to keep my blog going.
    But a WIP? In my head, I'm working on a new angle for the novel I've been shopping to agents. I've got the first draft of a travel memoir completed. I occasionally jot down a poem or a story idea, but I'm becoming so emotionally spent that even that is becoming harder and harder to do.
    Writing is what I've always wanted to do and the time I spent writing my first novel proved that my heart had been in the right place. But for now, it's a career interrupted. I only hope these days will add a richness to my writing.
    Thanks for the encouragement, Jody. I have to keep writing, because, after my family, it's everything to me.

  7. Simple but great advice. I might miss a day but I always make up for it!

  8. Good morning Naomi & Laura! It's great to see your smiley faces bright and early! :-)

    And Jane, I'm sorry to hear of your tough year. Everyone is going to have different seasons in their life for writing. And sometimes writing will indeed need to go on the back burner while we simmer in the rich experiences life hands us. My hope, however, is to encourage all of us not to let all those other writing duties distract us from the main thing, and that is the writing! :-)

  9. I feel like I'm always helping a family member through a difficult time, so I hear you on that one.

    This transition stage is new to me. I'm thankful my MC keeps introducing herself to me, otherwise I'd be tempted to go easy for a while. Go easy? Me...neh.

    ~ Wendy

  10. Yes, exactly. You just sit down and do it. Maybe you wake up an hour earlier, or maybe you stay up an hour later than your bedtime, but you get it done. It's really as simple as that.

    Thanks for a great post! :)

  11. Thanks for sharing this. I've realized that folding laundry can wait...sadly my children cannot. But I do try my best. To turn off the television at night and try to hammer out a page or two. You're right about priorities.

  12. Amen! It's what we need to do, even when it's not convenient or we're not in the mood. Getting the words down is crucial (we may have to MAJORLY edit later, and that's okay), and we have to make that a priority in amongst all the chaos that is our family and work oriented lives.

  13. Sometimes I just feel frozen. I have so many things to do, so I do nothing. Isn't that terrible? Or I begin to break things down to bare necessities. Or I begin to think I can't make yet another pass at my WIP--I'm still exhausted from the last one. Fatigue is overwhelming. But I feel better about everything else when I spend one entire hour focusing on writing.

  14. My problem is knowing when to *stop* writing! My favourite time to write is late evening when all is quiet, the household activities are done and there are no interruptions. I get caught up and am shocked when I discover it's 2 a.m. I drag myself off to bed with the story racing through my head, and want to pick it up again in the morning when other commitments are waiting for me.

    Sometimes the best way to ensure we have the writing time we want and need is to schedule it. Even the busiest life offers fragments of free time. If we deliberately consolidate a few of them it's amazing how much writing can be slotted in. Prioritizing will also help us decide how we want to spend our limited time. Your life is fuller than most, so your determination to meet your writing commitments is a wonderful example for the rest of us.

  15. Good, honest advice, Jody. I've got a load of excuses tied to work, family, school, church...fill in the blank. Thanks for shooting squarely between the eyes of the excuses.

  16. This is a great, simple reminder to all of us! I'm often tempted to let "other" stuff take over (like all my Mommmy/wife/church/family/friend duties) and then blame my lack of time. Twitter and FB are BIG distractions and I'm learning to be better about turning them off completely during writing time!

  17. I can relate to this. September is always busy at our house! I purposely took the month off from writing or revising so I could overhaul my website and add a few things I've put off, like a Facebook Page and a newsletter. I'm glad I have the open time for it because, as you know, this stuff takes a lot of time to set up!

    And now I'm pumped for October, when I can just get back to writing and normal social media stops. I think the busy, busy times make me appreciate the average busy times more. :)

    Good luck getting through this month!

  18. Great points, everyone! I do think writers need vacations too. After I finish writing and editing a manuscript, I usually take a few weeks off to let my body and mind refresh.

    I think the time between books is going to vary for each of us. I usually start to get antsy and ready to start researching and coming up with a new idea after about a month break. So I do think we need those down times to help refuel us (and to work on websites or facebook pages,etc. as Jill mentioned). But I think that once we start the writing of a manuscript, our writing muscles and our story will be all the stronger for learning to stick to it until the end.

  19. I was full of excuses during the summer months. Now that my kids are at school for a few hours, writing is the first thing I tackle after I've taken them to. I must shut down my email and internet though, because I'm easily distracted!

    LOVING Doctor's Lady, btw :D

  20. I totally need to read this, Jody. I've been wondering how in the world I still find the time to write the next book, in between raising kids, working, managing the house, writing blog posts, social media, etc. And you are right. It needs to be a big priority -- not something I squeeze in IF I have time. If that's the case, book #2 will never get done...or started!

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I have been making excuses without even realizing what I was doing. It's BIC time!

  22. This post really resonated with me. I do like the point in the comments that sometimes there are seasons when writing goes on the back burner. But it's so true that consistency over time yields results. Thank you for this! :)

  23. Yes - lately, I have made more room in my life for writing. I used to be the chapter leader for a prominent health group in Chicago, but it was too much of a time suck for my writing goals. I dropped that responsibility, and my writing life has blossomed. Thanks for this wisdom!

  24. Hi everyone! Glad the post resonated! I do think sometimes we have to let go of other things in order to make more time in our schedules for writing. But usually we can squeeze in some time if we just do it, right? :-)


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