Writer’s Boot Camp Day 21

It’s 9:30 pm and I’m just getting started. If this trend of working later and later continues I am going to fail this challenge in a few days.    I worked my day job until 8, then did some dishes, litter boxes, vacuumed and trash. I’m not going to lie, I also hung out with Paul for a few minutes and played a stupid video game for about 15 minutes.  I feel a little guilty about the video game.

I really don’t think I’m ever going to be good at time management.  I have the same number of hours everyone else does, and yet I get so much less done.  I try to be disciplined but I always end up wondering where the time went. Oh well.

The theme today is delayed gratification, a reminder that writing is a long game. A single short story can take a few weeks from start to finish,  a novel takes months or years. Most things I write will be read by 4 or 5 people tops and not for a while after I write it. Someday if I keep working at it a few more might read my work.  A reply from a publisher about a submission can take 4 or 5 months, which is its own hell. Nothing happens fast in writing. This is hard for me, because I’m sort of a task endorphin junkie. I keep my little lists and check things off all day because it feels good to do the things.  I get one check mark for writing if I work 30 minutes or if I work 3 hours, so there isn’t a whole bunch of reward for more writing at least not right away. But at only 30 minutes a day, each project takes so much longer, slowing down the reward even more.

The author suggests making a list of rewards.  Small rewards for writing 3 hours without checking email or social media.  3 hours! That is a lot for me, I tend to manage about an hour at a time before I get distracted.  Possible rewards are a 15-minute walk, an iced coffee, watching a t.v show, coloring or a cookie. Those are not 3-hour rewards.  How about we split the difference and say 2 hours?

2-hour rewards

  • Going to a coffee shop or bar to get a drink with a friend.  Or dinner.
  • Watching an episode of a TV show I like
  • Going a craft store or something similar
  • Knitting for 30 minutes
  • Buying myself a small present online ($30 or less)
  • Go to a movie

If any of my local friends are reading this feel free to bribe me with a coffee, bar or dinner date. You don’t even have to pay, just text me and be like “hey, write for 2 hours straight and then we will hang out, and I’ll tell you that you are smart, talent and amazing”.  It will totally work.  I didn’t go to karoke tonight because I needed to write. 😦

There are also big rewards for meeting your daily goals for 2 weeks.  I’ve met my daily goal for over two weeks! I deserve a prize! Her 2-week rewards are not in reasonable scope with each other or with the smaller rewards.  I feel like the 2-week rewards should be 10 times as awesome as the smaller rewards. She has stuff like buy a new journal or go to a movie. Go to a movie makes sense on the first list, I’m going to add that up there now.  

2-week rewards

  • A day at the beach
  • A day out of town vacationing any place
  • A fancy dinner at a favorite restaurant
  • Shopping for a  new outfit really nice outfit
  • Ordering one of those monthly present boxes for myself (I had a yarn box and sticker box as gifts and that was neat, I’ve been wanting to do one of these, but I should probably wait until after I move)
  • A whole day off,  to binge watch tv and eat perogies

The author has the theory that we get caught in a cycle where we don’t have the energy to start writing. That we do something easier like play with our phones or watch TV and that wastes time and then we are too tired to work.   I would change “energy” to something else because I don’t think it is completely about if you are tired or not. I think it is something more, like “mana” or “will” or “chi” but not any of those either, because they all sound a little silly. Maybe “passion” or “drive”, or even “confidence”?  I don’t know, but it’s bigger than energy because you get that back by eating a healthy dinner, drinking enough water and getting a good night’s sleep. But the thing that I lack that keeps me doing pointless time wasting shit is more than that, its a mix of sadness, apathy, self-destruction, shame and a lot of other stuff.

This morning I wasted time doing stupid shit or doing the important things I should do but too slowly.  I did 15 minutes of exercise, ate breakfast, drank water, took morning meds, checked my planner, made a doctor’s appointment, put in a load of laundry, researched who I should vote for today and took a shower.   That should have taken maybe 1.5 hours. It took 3. Somehow in there, I wasted 1.5 hours. If I wasn’t currently doing this challenge and committed to finishing I would not be writing now. That missing 1.5 hours would have been enough to beat down my self-esteem into not doing any writing tonight.  In fact, it almost was, I feel so behind on everything that I really wanted to keep cleaning tonight and get a little caught up with that, but then I really would have been physically tired and probably gone to bed feeling like a big failure.

The author of the book thinks a few days of making ourselves write will break this cycle and we can keep going, the more you do it the easier it gets.  A week ago I would have agreed. Today, no. I don’t feel like this has gotten any easier to make myself do,  I’m not that proud of myself and I still feel a bit silly. I don’t think this has energized me…but who knows?

The exercise for today is to look back at some of my free writing from the last few weeks and see if anything jumps out.  I haven’t done a lot in my actual “free writing” doc, but I’ll give it a look.

There was a sentence there that might be a useful starting point for a science-based poem about suffocation.  And I had an idea to write down on the idea page.

I also had the idea to take a book, magazine or collection of short stories up to my room to read in the mornings instead of my phone.

I worked a poem about time travel for a few minutes.   It’s 11 PM now, I have to go to bed because I have PT in the morning.

Total writing time today 1 hour 19 minutes.