Fitting That Stuff In

I was talking about my time getting my MFA at Lesley University, and I mentioned how in awe I always was of the moms who worked full time and also decided to go to grad school.

“Mom’s just figure out how to fit that stuff in,” my coworker said.

And I realized how bad of a job I’ve been doing of that, of fitting my writing and editing and blogging into my life. Yes, I’m busy, yes, I’m sleepy, yes, I’m way too anxious, but writing is important to me, and I can’t not do it.

I starting by keeping myself accountable, marking off time spent on writing (or writing related tasks) in a notebook, little purple blocks for every 20 minute increment. So far it my log looks mostly like a single column of blocks, as most days I squeeze in a little time while she’s sleeping. But keeping count forces me to not let myself just skip a day, so I don’t have a horrible little blank spot.

I’m also remembering just how much I can get done in a block of time. Twenty minutes, if I’m on a roll, is 2 notebook pages of writing. It is a short blog post. Even when that’s all I do in a day (and right now, that’s usually all I do in a day) it stacks up noticeably.

I was never the best at utilizing my time before I had a kiddo. With her around, I’m forced to go against part of my nature and be organized and motivated. Kind of like when I was working on my MFA, and those deadlines nearly crushed me. There is less spare time, and that can make me feel like I’m getting less done, but maybe those little chunks will, eventually, add up to more.

Writing Problems: Motivation

I sometimes find it hard to really motivate myself to get writing. On some days, especially days that are busy with work or insane crazy-people activities (like planning a wedding — who does that?), it’s really easy to ignore my pen and paper and lie face-down in the couch instead. Other times, motivation streaks through me like lightning, and I suddenly have the urge to get things written and make someone publish me.

Where does this motivation come from? And how the heck can I get it to stick around? I have a couple of theories.

School. Wow, I mention my MFA program a lot. But it really does help. I can think of so many times where I would have put of working, only to remind myself that the due date is coming up and boy do I have a lot to get through. Added to that is the awesome support network I’ve gained, which leads into my next motivator…

Other People. Knowing that other people are reading my work pushes me to make sure I get out the best I can do. Their comments can be either praising or critical, but it’s always encouraging: that I either really do know what I’m doing, or that I could actually eventually get out a piece of prose that works. Also, when they manage to succeed, it reminds me that I want to succeed like them — and also shows me a path I can take to get there myself.

Awesome Books. Sometimes this backfires. I read a great book and a sinking dread forms in the pit of my stomach. I can never write that! What do I think I’m trying to do?! But, usually, it just think, wow, I want to write this, too. Then I reread it and figure out how I can steal their technique.

Just Writing. Sometimes the best way to get myself writing is to simply sit down and do it. Even if I don’t feel like it, chances are I’ll get something out that will make the minutes worthwhile. Even if it’s going to be a horrible, awful, busy day, I try to sit at my computer for at least the duration of my coffee and see if I can’t punch something out. By doing that I’ve created something resembling a routine, and, being a creature of habit, that’s something that’s difficult to break.
Those are some of the things that help keep me motivated enough to keep writing. What about you — what are some of your motivators? And what can happen to just punch your motivation in the gut?

Need Motivation :: More Articles

I really do hope I get a job soon. You’d think I’d get more writing done this way, but the lack of structure just makes me apathetic. I feel more motivated to create if I’ve had to work on something else all day. Also, I’ll probably spend more typing-time working on creative stuff, since I’ll be making money and won’t feel guilty not doing freelance work, heh.

Hopefully I’ll be going to graduate school soon, too. Being around other’s writing, or writing on a deadline, always helps my writing just be better.

Again, more Suite101 articles!

I should have a review for the manga Ristorante Paradiso up by tonight. I’ll write it up after I do some errands.