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I’m Guest Posting It

May 16, 2012

Today, I’ve got a guest post up on Ollin Morales’ blog {Courage 2 Create}.  It’s called “The Trick to Keeping the Big Picture In Mind While Working Out the Details“. But it’s not about the “big picture” and the “details” of your novel.  It’s about the big picture of your writing life and your non-writing life.

In the post, I introduce something that I do that keeps me going that I call “taking the long view”.  If you struggle with managing the vagaries of your daily life to find time to write, you might find some inspiration, or at least consolation, in this post.  You should check it out.

A part of the post ended up on the cutting room floor due to length constraints.  In the post, I give five “steps”.  But what got left behind was a short example version of how a hypothetical writer might implement those steps.  So I thought I’d share the example here with you.  You’ll want to read the linked guest post first to get the full context.

The Steps in Action

Let’s take a hypothetical writer, a Ms. Jane Q. Auteur. (Don’t ask what the Q stands for.) She writes {insert your favorite genre of fiction}, and she’d love someday to be a recognized and popular author in that genre. Good. She’s already got a dream. But Step 1 requires both the dream and a concrete goal. She can’t control whether she ever becomes popular, but she can control how much she writes and submits her writing. So, she decides that she wants to write ten novels in the next ten years, and to submit each of them to agents or editors. There: that’s a goal she can control, and it relates to her dream.

But she’s a long way from that dream today. What can she do, now? Ms. Auteur isn’t the world’s sharpest math-whiz, but she’s got a calculator. She figures if there are 52 weeks a year and she writes 5 days a week then she’s got 260 days a year she should be writing. If each novel is roughly 100,000 words, that means she needs to write 385 words per day, five days a week. So she makes that her short-term goal. That’s something she can measure.

She doesn’t want to bother with the numbers so much, but she figures this is easy to track. So she starts a spreadsheet and lists every day of the year. At the end of each day she loads her spreadsheet and goes to the line for that day. If she wrote her minimum of 385 words she puts a “1” next to the date. If she didn’t, she writes a “0”. Some days, she finds she gets close, but not quite there. So she figures she’ll put a “0.5” on those days. (Note that this is a fairly simple example of the many different ways you can track your progress. You can make it as complex or as simple as you’d like.)

Jane keeps a blog, and she’s got a significant other. So she convinces her significant other to ask her at the end of every day if she wrote at least 385 words that day. And once a week, she reports on her blog whether she wrote her minimum number of words each day in the prior week.

But of course, then things start happening that interfere with her goals. She gets sick for a week and doesn’t write at all. Her best friend has a major relationship crisis the following week, and Jane is on hand to offer consolation, a shoulder to cry on, and a trip to the movies. Then Jane discovers she forgot to take holidays into consideration, and when her family comes into town to visit for three days Jane doesn’t write at all because she’s too busy.

It would be easy for Jane to get discouraged, at this point. She hasn’t written hardly anything for two weeks. But then Jane remembers the two most important steps. First, she forgives herself for not being able to control everything in her life to always make time to write. She realizes that things in life will always come up. You can’t not live when that happens. So, she dusts herself off and once her relatives have left and she’s cleaned her apartment, and life is back to normal again, she sits down and she writes. And she does it again the next day, and keeps doing it. She reminds her significant other of the promise to keep asking about her progress, and her writing life continues. After all, she’ll never be a famous {genre} writer if she doesn’t keep writing, now will she? And maybe her two week hiatus has set her long-term goals back… but what’s two weeks out of ten years?


And that’s it.  Check out the rest of the post on Ollin’s blog.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2012 1:51 pm

    This was a timely post. Thank you for sharing Stephen. It’s good to give yourself permission to live, and be a human being. There’s more to this journey than just the writing.

  2. May 17, 2012 11:03 am

    You wrote a very inspiring post over Ollin’s blog 🙂 Thanks for sharing all this knowledge of yours!

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