Challenges, Schedules, Accountability

I recently received a nice (as in beneficial) kick in the caboose.

Challenges, schedules, accountability — These are all good things for you. And really good for writers! I’ve got to confess that my time management skills are terrible. In spite of the glorious sense of intoxication that came with publishing As the Crow Flies, I immediately fell out of the habit of writing regularly. Again.

That’s not to say I haven’t been writing at all. You may remember that cleeeeaar back in February I noted that I was re-working the outline of my WiP (as opposed to the writing of bunches of other things that may or may not figure in the series). A new plot board got me excited again, but I was still dragging. Worse, I was spending a lot of time worrying about Not Writing, avoiding writing because it was stressful, procrastinating by fooling around online.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love seeing what other writers are doing; I hate them for doing it while I’m lolly-gagging. I love learning new writing techniques; I hate discovering things I should have been doing all along. And so on.

However…

Last week I told you about The Fantasy Sci-Fi Network’s Keep on Writing Challenge. (Remember this? 100 words per day, 7 days per week, for one month.) My buddy Leeland Artra had decided that our writer’s group might be full of other people suffering as he was with slumps in writing. “I’ve found that Newton’s First Law applies pretty well to my writing habits. Meaning (that) if I’m writing, I tend to keep on writing. But if I stop, I tend to stay stopped (letting other things get in my way).”

“What? Who? Are you looking at me?”

FSFN_KWC2015_LongestChain

I felt like I should do that. I could  do that! I DID do that! Woohoo! It wasn’t easy. The first couple days gave me a headache from all the thinking and word-stringing. You’d think I didn’t actually do that on a daily basis. I do! Just not on that particular project. By the end of the month I was averaging 500 words per day. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, right?

About the same time, I was introduced to Chris Fox’s book, 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter.

Yeah, I’m not doing 5,000 words per hour. Yet. But I definitely learned a few things that have helped out. At three bucks, it was worth the investment to me.  It got me keeping track of my writing and being organized. Well, more organized, anyway!

As soon as the group’s spring challenge ended, on June 30th, a new one started. This one runs until the end of September. While I’ve had a couple of dismal days, my consistent average has jumped up to 1500 words per day. I even had a marathon day in which I churned out 5,005 words. (In a day, not an hour. Rats.) It wasn’t enough to win the coveted award for Most Words in One day, but it was a record for me. Accountability has been a huge thing. So has a little friendly competition. 😀

I still find myself procrastinating, and there have been a lot of late nights when I’m scurrying to get my writing in — I write better and faster at night, but oh, boy, is the next morning tough! And you know what? I’m now three scenes from the end of the First Draft, even with the entrance of an unexpected character that required a few more scenes than I’d originally stuck on my plot board. That’s Big-with-a-capital-B. Finishing has re-entered the realm of possibility and become assured. Go, me! And go, Leeland and the FSFNet crew!

So… I’m gonna take off now. Those last few scenes aren’t going to write themselves!

~~~~~

How do you stick to a schedule?
What kind of schedule works best for you?
What’s your favorite color of (fantasy) book cover? (Or just your favorite color.)

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