Often I hear my fellow writers lament the lack of opportunity to write. Or write as much as they desire. The issue isn’t lack of motivation (but I’ll get to that, since it’s in the blog title), but where to squeeze writing in with all the daily demands on their time. Family should come first, I’m on board with that. Neglect family and you might end up with none to neglect.
Recently, I returned from a year-and-a-half of 2 ½ day work weeks in my ‘other’ career (the scientific one what pays the bills) to a 4 day week. Yikes. My first reaction was (in the words of Ward), holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods, I’ve got this novel to write, this novel to rewrite, this novel to polish and this novel to market. How the hell am I going to maintain my productivity goals when my writing week no longer runs from Wednesday noon to Sunday evening? (just to note, my second reaction was, I appreciate the additional cash flow). I realized I could no longer ‘relax’ my writing goals for Mondays and Tuesdays, since I couldn’t make it up on Wednesday and Thursday. I had to improve my efficiency and exploit all of my potential writing windows.
My plan became, what can I do during my morning and evening public transit commute and my lunch hour on the days I worked? I can carry printed pages of chapters to edit by hand; I can write by hand from scratch; I can read and make scene summaries for outline revision and future drafts. I can then word process the changes at noon or weekends in a binge. I never deny that the slower pace of writing in longhand can often result in superior prose—my brain has more time to think of the right word or phrase.
So how does motivation play into this? For me, using visualization techniques gives me the incentive to establish the above routine. I’ve finished the 2nd draft of a novel in 3 weeks in January and completed a scene by scene go forward action plan for another. Before I mount the bus each morning and afternoon, I’m already visualizing ‘Al the author’, hard at work on his next literary masterpiece. Dave Darrigo created a wonderful comic book series called Wordsmith, the story of Clay Washburn, a depression era pulp writer. When I’m really lacking the oomph to pick away, I become Clay, or Lester Dent, or Frank Gruber, writing because I have to.
I’m not a ‘binge’ writer. I find it difficult to pull a 3 or 4 day sprint, then be drained for a week or a month after. Here’s my tip, as much to remind me as to offer advice to anyone else, you can’t finish a story or novel by writing zero words per day. You can by writing 100 words a day. It may take longer than you envisioned when these marvelous characters/plots/scenes presented themselves, but you will establish the work/reward routine which will become your motivation.