Part 1 – Writing
Today started with writing for 1 hour before going on to the journaling part.
I spent about the first 5 minutes of that closing browser tabs that had been left open from work.
Then I decided to write the short story I had thought of last night. I don’t have a publication in mind for this one, no deadline or theme, just entertaining myself and getting into the habit of writing again.
After 55 minutes or so of writing, I have 1109 words and a respectable beginning to a short story.
It was fun and easier than I remember it being, I just moved my fingers and words came out. Maybe not great words, maybe not interesting words to form a story that anyone would want to read, but words. The time flew by, time always seems to go really fast when I’m writing. I love writing when I’m doing it for the pure pleasure of itself, I get so much joy for the act of telling stories. When I was a kid it was my escape from my scary life.
But in the working world of an adult, writing isn’t just a fun, cathartic thing I like to do. Each moment has to be justified because each moment I spend writing is time that I am not doing something else that needs to be done. Like today I can write because I am off for a few weeks and I can say this 30-day project is a stepping point in the long-term goal of turning this into my job. There is no way the person I am currently could have just done this because she wanted to, the guilt would have burned away all the joy and creativity. Even as it was several times in the last hour I thought about the “more important” things I could be doing. The things I have to get back to in just a few minutes after I do the other half of today’s assignment.
Part 2 – Goals
The book says I need goals, I can’t just flit around writing whatever, whenever for the next 28 days. I need a focus. I need to name the project and make a folder on my computer. I need a schedule, a plan so that I can evaluate if I’m being successful or not.
This is where I panic and this boot camp thing seems too hard. I suck at making and keeping goals like this. Because I never feel like I have picked the right goals, I feel like someone else needs to give a fuck about what I am doing and validate my choices. But there isn’t anyone. When I was married I tried to get my husband to be my writing “Dom”, but that wasn’t something he was into. And I am clearly not very good at being my own Dom. At this point, I really want to give up and just cry. I’m going to walk away for a second, get a drink of water (cry) and come back, hold on.
The book (Writer’s Bootcamp by Rachel Federman, I mention that since I’m doing direct quotes) gives examples of goals I could have.
It can be a time goal like “20 minutes a day’
Or it can be a finishable project like “write a short story or essay” or “write a poem to read at a workshop”
It can be working on something bigger like “finish a chapter in your novel”
A year ago when I started this my goal was to edit “Lost in Reflection” that novel I wrote a few years before. To be honest I think that might be why I didn’t get very far last time, well, that and the leg breaking thing. The thought of editing that book makes me want to never write again, it makes me sick to my stomach, it makes me want to jump out of a window. It’s not the book’s fault, in fact, for being the first full novel I have ever written it’s not bad. However….
- Editing isn’t fun, it isn’t exciting, it isn’t something I can write much of a blog about.
- Work to profit/cost ratio. I worked about 4 hours a day for around 30 days to write it, so 120 hours. I have edited and revised some of it already, but editing takes about twice as much time as writing, so add 240 hours. Then I have to have someone else edit it, get a cover artist and then format it, then publish it (another 20 hours or so). The last self-published book I wrote made about $70 so far. So if I finish this book, paid an editor the least amount I could, say $200, to give it a once-over, and got a cover artist for the least possible amount, maybe $50, it will have cost me 380 hours and $180 to publish a book. That would put me in a super bad headspace.
When I think about I realize this hobby costs me too much money and time, it’s just not worth it. When I think of finishing my book, knowing I don’t have an audience interested in reading it I want to give up and do something that is at least free. I would lose 0$ by watching tv. Doing nothing is more economically sound than being a writer. So, editing my novel isn’t my goal.
Leading us back to the question, what is my goal?
I could write one blog post every day about what I am doing, that’s a goal. But it’s sort of a meta-goal, if my project is writing about my project then I can see possible days in which that doesn’t work. I think doing a blog post every day should be part of my goal, but not the goal itself.
I don’t want this to be a timed goal every day, because I have a feeling that each of these daily tasks will have its own time to finish, I don’t want to feel like I’m racing a clock and I also don’t want to be sitting here with a timer running and have nothing to do.
My instinct is to have a goal with completion built in, like “write and submit 3 new short stories”, 3 stories in a month is reasonable goal, but this doesn’t take into account all the extra time that I would spend searching for markets to submit them, formatting them to guidelines and stuff like that. That stuff needs a totally different challenge. Before I started trying to be a professional writer I had no idea how much time writers spend doing business work instead of writing. The other problem with this goal is what if I finish and publish 3 stories before the end of the 30 days?
Days like this I really wish I had a manager or something. I wish I had someone to tell me what to do. I really enjoyed writing for Dryden House because the publisher, Katie would just tell me what she wanted, when she wanted it and then bully me until I did the work. I miss that.
I’m over 2 hours in on this today and I still haven’t done the thing I have set out to do.
Ok, I’m going with 3 short stories. They can be brand new like the one I started today or they can be pulled out of my “in process folder”, but not my “finished- needs publishing folder” as that would be cheating. The business side stuff (searching markets, contacting publishers and networking) counts as working, so if it says “write an hour” I’m going to take that to mean “write or do writing business for an hour”
In the next 28 days, I will write and submit for publication 3 short stories and blog something about the process every day.