By Liz, grudgingly admitting summer is over here in Connecticut
So, another Bouchercon is over. The day job is (hopefully) about to quiet down some, although I have my doubts about that. Shaggy just celebrated her 8th birthday. I have a few author events coming up in the next few weeks, but otherwise the fall and winter months are stretching ahead with shorter days and longer nights, and writing time aplenty (theoretically).
The problem? I’m having some trouble getting back into the swing of the writing thing. Yes, I brought my computer to Bouchercon. No, I didn’t write a word. And in the days before I left, one crisis after another kept me from getting too much work done. When I returned, I was home for a day then gone for another two on a work trip. No, I didn’t get any writing done there either because I was too busy catching up on the work that didn’t get done while I was on vacation. By the time all of that was handled, well, I just got out of the habit.
And many of us writers know how hard it is to get back in the saddle when that happens.
So the past few days, as I really sink back into normal life again, I’ve been trying some tricks to get motivated. Here are a few things that have worked:
- Re-immerse myself in the story as I left it. I’ve been doing that in a couple of ways – reading through scenes, reading my plotting notes, doing some research to get me excited about the story again. As my wise blog sister Barbara Ross says, the longer you’re out of the story, the longer it takes to get back in it. What also helps is walking the real town green that I’ve mirrored the fictional one after. It helps get me back into Stan’s head.
- Moving myself. Working out has always helped me focus. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga which does wonders for my monkey mind.
- Taking back some routine. When you’re traveling or dealing with stressful situations, it’s hard to do the things that keep you sane and grounded. So I’ve been making a conscious effort to get back into my good sleeping-eating-juicing routines. It really does help.
- Journaling. I’ve done morning pages as outlined in The Artist’s Way for years. Sometimes I fall off the wagon and sometimes I’m really dedicated. I’ve been dedicated lately, aside from my traveling time, so I’m making sure to carve out that space in the mornings. It helps get the detritus out of my head and better prepares me for the day.
And with any luck, I’ll still get that draft done by December 31.
Readers, what gets you motivated after time away from a project?
Those all sound like good tricks, Liz. I also find reading straight through whatever I have already written in the manuscript helps get me back into the story. You can make that deadline!
Thanks, Edith. I aspire to be as focused as you!
I’d like to hear about your healthy “sleeping-eating-juicing” routine as you work it into your exercise and writing routines. Do you credit sheer discipline, or have you discovered some special pleasure in doing these? I find it difficult to do all in one day, because once I start an activity I tend to stick with it until I collapse!
Hi Reine! I really enjoy the way I feel when I eat well, juice and get good rest. Juicing has become one of my favorite things. And sleep is super important to me – lately I haven’t been sleeping well, and I can see the difference.
Deadlines. Each one is a commitment to the publisher and your readers, and I’m determined never to miss one. How far back I go rereading what I’ve already written depends on where I was in the story–I want to make sure I have the clues and red herrings in the right order and location and make sure I don’t repeat any. And like you, I hauled my laptop to Bouchercon and never touched it (and that little sucker is heavy!).
Agree, Sheila – I am a journalist at heart, so deadlines are non-negotiable for me.
Envisioning the end result and the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment is what helps me to get motivated and finish a project. Earlier this year I set out to convert my grown daughter’s room into an office and reading space of my own. Thinking about having my own space, decorated in my own style, didn’t allow me to leave off from the project for too long. And now, months later, I still can’t help but smile every time I walk in there.
I love that. Yes, a well-finished product is a wonderful motivator!
I really needed to hear this. I’m wrestling with I Know What You Bid Last Summer and I just need to throw myself into it! I think I might go back and re-read parts of the other three books to help set me back in Sarah’s world. I’ve been in mine or others for too long.
Love the title.
Thank you, Dru! I love it too!
Good luck Sherry – you’ll do it!
I had this when I got back from Bouchercon. I took my laptop with the best of intentions and… I heard Jonathan Maberry speak last spring and he never goes to bed without doing 3,000 words. But what about when you collapse in exhaustion? I read over what I’d written previously, then moved on (after I finished some critique reading). Knowing that I have to turn in 50 pages each month to my critique group is my “deadline” right now.
Of course, now I’m working from home because of the injured ankle and I find my discipline is much lower at home. Got to fix that.
Good luck, Mary. Hope your ankle is better soon.
You can do it! And I can’t wait to read the results!
Hi Liz, I am pulling for you and have no doubt you’ll make your deadline with a terrific book!
But oh how I needed to read this! I’ve been busy with fun/necessary things and younger daughter is home for awhile but there is still a deadline looming. I try to do the better sleeping/eating thing but I’ve never tried juicing. Do you have a favorite energizing recipe?
Thanks Shari! I love Kris Carr – her book Crazy Sexy Juice is my go to for juices and smoothies. You’ll totally find something you love in it, no doubt.
It’s rough because I’m balancing trying to launch the second book in my series with outlining the fourth (3rd is at publisher’s, so I’m waiting for revisions), work a demanding job where I have to write on my feet (group-writing an animated series), and parenting a junior in HS (college looms!!). It’s so easy to get distracted by FB and great blog posts – like this one. I must spend at least an hour or two of my time working on that outline. Thanks for the nudge.
Thanks for reading, Ellen! And good luck with all the balls you have in the air 🙂
Rereading the manuscript (as far as I’ve gotten) is usually the big one.
Unfinished projects nag at me until I finish them!
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