Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quarterly Tune-Up

If you have been writing every day since my post on Establishing the Habit then today is day 71 of 100 for you. If you've managed to write every single day, then congratulations, you're almost three-quarters of the way to a Club 100 victory. If you've dropped the ball several times, like me, then welcome to the other club.

Where I live in Canada, winter can be rough. We forget what the sun looks like, we eat too many carbs and hide under blankets while we watch old movies instead of exercising. I personally find that January is a productive month, because I am re-energized by setting New Year's Writing Resolutions. But February and March can be train wrecks on the productivity scale.

Today is the first day of spring in Canada. Woohoo! And we have had exceptionally gorgeous weather where I live -- I'm talking near-perfect summer weather -- so I'm shaking off the doldrums and jumping on the productive-writer bandwagon.

Why not join me?

You might ask, "How can I be more productive as a writer than I already am?"

I have three ideas to light that motivational fire.

(1) Set some goals and/or check-up on your existing goals.

If you've been religiously following my writing-tip-posts, then you've already set your writing goals. So instead of setting, it's time for a quarterly check-up. My original goals were posted on my personal blog for reference.

I set the goal of writing four new short stories this year. Last night, I finished the first new one. Whew! I'm on track.

I set the goal of submitting once per week, but as a minimum, to make at least 15 submissions for the year. As of today, I've made seven submissions. This is week 12 of 2012, so I'm behind, as usual for a sub-a-week, but in a good place for my minimum.

I set the goal of writing at least two new poems and investigating the notion of a collection. I actually attended a poetry workshop and wrote many more than two. Since then, I've made it a priority to type up several poems, some written at this workshop, and some at the previous one. By the end of this digitization process, I should have enough poems to put a collection together. Woot!

I set the goal of posting on a regular basis to the SWG blog. So far, so good. I've contributed a writing tip post weekly since the first week of January. I am particularly proud of this accomplishment.

I set the goal of promoting my work for award nomination. You've all seen my posts on this one. The deadline for Aurora Award nominations is March 31st. Feel free to familiarize yourself with the possible selections here.

I have a bunch of other goals, but that's enough talk on this topic.

(2) Celebrate your successes.

Celebrating is important. Don't allow it to distract you too much, or to get complacent because you've earned it so to speak. But if you don't recognize what you have done once in a while, you'll get into the negative cycle of believing all of your stuff is crap, and no one will ever buy it, and there's no point in submitting because they'll only reject you, blah, blah, blah. Sound familiar?

Follow your budget, of course, but find a way to pump up your ego a little at this juncture. Call your mom/friend/neighbour and tell them all about your latest story/novel. Buy a book you've been meaning to get (or borrow it from the library) and spend the whole day reading. (Except for your 100 words, of course, oh yeah, and feeding your kids, because they might eat each other if you ignore them for too long.) Get some exercise, like a walk, run, bike ride, or swim, and spend the time thinking about story. Any story. One you're editing, one you're thinking of starting, one you've ignored for too long, etc.

Usually, post-celebration, you'll be feeling pretty pumped about yourself, your craft, and your determination. This feeling is likely to spur you on to more productive sessions at the keyboard over the next week or two. So it's also important to schedule time right now to write. Put it in your daybook as a firm appointment and stick to it!

(3) Buy yourself a "writing-pretty"

Go to the dollar store and pick up a new notebook. Use it as soon as you've paid for it. Write a journal entry about how much you want to be a successful writer. Or scribble some ideas for stories in a bullet-list. Or use a word prompt to write 100 words of fiction and call it "Day One" again. You can also buy a very pretty notebook, like a Moleskine, PaperBlanks, or Time Traveler. I have several of each and they are so beautiful and comfortable that I long to write in them. Or go really big, and buy yourself a new writing-related toy, like a Blackberry Playbook, or a Netbook, or a Laptop (if yours is on its last legs), but remember to stay within your budget. I'm not suggesting you dig yourself a debt-hole from which there is no escape. (See the Dollar Store idea.)

Whew! You made it to the end of my post. Now you have goals, ideas, a shopping list for the pretty, and firm writing appointments/commitments.

What are you waiting for? You're totally tuned up and ready to roll, so...place that butt of yours firmly in a chair and get at it!


  1. I started on the first of the year :-) . I have a 79 day streak going. 5 submissions, 1 acceptance so far, the rest I've not heard back from yet. I'm also at 110,000 words for the year and it's awesome to keep seeing that number go up. First thing I do everyday is look at my word count spreadsheet and motivation has been there.

    Thank you for doing these posts. It really helps.

  2. Fantastic word count for the year.

    I am green with envy.

    I've actually been dabbling in poems lately, so the word count is pathetic, but I'm enjoying the change of pace.

    Keep writing...I expect you'll hit 100!