By Cary Christopher and Lisanne Harrington
This month’s theme is “Push” so we thought we’d take a moment to speak to all the writers out there who have that one project that’s just sitting, waiting to be finished. Maybe it’s that book that you chip away at once a week or less. Maybe it’s just an outline for a book with only a few scenes written. Whatever it is that you have sitting around, you know it’s bugging you. It’s eating away at the corners of your mind, planting little seeds of guilt and whispering in your ear that you should pay more attention to it.
But how can you? You’ve got so many other things going on! You work a full time job. You have a family, young kids, and you’re a full two seasons behind on Game of Thrones!
Uh-huh. Believe us, we know the feeling.
You Just Have to Do It
Recently, Cary was speaking to a group of writers at a retreat and during the Q&A session, someone asked him if he still had a full-time job. He does and it demands a lot of his time. Another person asked how often he got to write and his answer was “everyday if I make the time but unless I’m trying to finish a book, then only on the weekend.”
After the session was over, a writer came over and asked him about that comment. He wanted to know what Cary’s secret was because after working all day, he just couldn’t get in the mood to write. Cary told him the brutal truth.
“There’s no secret. You just have to do it.”
It’s true. You just have to do it. It’s like going to the gym. None of us love going there, but you know that if you want to get in better shape than you are, you have to make the time to work out. Writing is actually very similar. If you carve out time each day to write, then you’ll find it gets easier and easier to snap into the writer mindset.
Lunchtime: A Golden Writing Hour
When Lisanne was working full-time, she would spend nearly every lunch break writing. She would eat at her desk, then go to lunch, usually at Carl’s Jr. (they have diet Dr. Pepper!), buy a soda and write, write, write! She found it was pretty much the only time she had to write during the week, as after-work hours were filled with four or five kids’ activities and her own schoolwork as she was finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. At the same time, she had a demanding partner who sometimes shamed her for choosing writing over spending time with the family, not understanding she needed to de-stress and had already spent many hours with the kids.
There were many days when she just wanted to clock out for lunch and take a nap. Sometimes, she did. But mostly, she would push herself to work on her current WIP. No one else is going to do it (unless you’re with one of the Big 5 and your editor is pushing you, but that’s a topic for another day). So if not you, then who? How will you ever complete your story?
Free Time is a Blessing and a Curse
Now, it’s even more difficult, and the push needs to be a lot stronger and more robust, because Lisanne is retired and at home. Her time is far less regimented, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because she can structure her days as she pleases, but bad because her days are unstructured.
When she was working, she knew she’d be writing at a certain time, for a certain length of time, but now, she must decide on a daily basis when to carve out writing time. It’s so much easier to procrastinate than when she was working full-time. “I don’t have to write right now. I have all day long,” she could say. “Or, I could even write twice as long tomorrow.” But that rarely works. Do you know how fast the day seems to fly by? Before she knows it, if she doesn’t push herself at all, the day is gone and she hasn’t written a single word.
And how do you finish that masterpiece if you never actually sit down and write?
The plain fact of the matter is, you don’t.
Keep the Writing Wheels Turning
For Cary, it’s similar to what Lisanne did on those lunch breaks. He’s up every weekday at 4:30 a.m. and at his job by 7:00. He brings a Chromebook laptop with him and during lunch, he’ll knock out blog posts, edit a chapter he’s written previously or even write some flash fiction. Basically, he’ll do whatever he can in the time he’s allotted so that the writing wheels don’t get rusty. Most days, that will be all the time he gets.
However, if he’s in “finish the book” mode, he’ll come home around 6:00, spend an hour with his family and then do whatever he needs to get ready for the following day before sitting down to literally write until he’s about to fall asleep at the keyboard. Sometimes that makes editing a bit challenging, but progress is still being made. It allows him to get another hour or two in every day and over time that adds up.
It’s all about pushing yourself to do something you don’t think you want to do. You come home, dog tired and perhaps a little brain dead, and all you want to do is take a shower, eat, and watch some TV. The last thing you want to do is sit in front of a computer. If you’re a writer though, you know that once you actually sit down and start, you’ll get in that special zone and enjoy creating new worlds. You just have to get over that resistance to sitting down at the keyboard.
Pushing yourself must be ingrained in you. You have to be forceful, tough on yourself, and vigorously pursue The Push, for that is the only way you’ll get anything done.
So now, what are you waiting for?
Cary Christopher was born and raised in Florida and Georgia but has called Southern California home now for almost 20 years. He’s written extensively about music, movies and pop culture online and for various publications around SoCal. Now he primarily writes for his blog (www.carychristopher.com). His new novel The Wash is available on Amazon.
Link to my Amazon Authors Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cary-Christopher/e/B076FD8MJ3
After sixteen years as a paralegal, I staged a coup and left the straight-laced corporate world behind forever. I now pander to my muse, a sarcastic little so-and-so who delights in getting the voices in my head to either all speak at once in a cacophony of noise or to remain completely silent. Only copious amounts of Diet Cherry Dr. Peppers and hamburgers will ensure their complicity in filling my head with stories of serial killers, werewolves, and the things that live under your bed.
I live in SoCal, in the small town I fashioned Moonspell’s Wolf Creek after, with my beloved husband and persistently rowdy, always-has-to-have-the-last-word Miniature Pinscher, Fiona.
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