This week, I begin a six-week course for women writers led by a woman writer I know, Alexis Daria, called WIP Squared: Women in Process with Works in Progress – A community for women writers. The goal of this new group is to create a community for women writers so that they can share their experiences and to get and give support.
In preparation for our first weekly call-in this Wednesday, the registered attendees received a welcome email with a list of questions for us to think about. The questions are excellent ones. Regardless of your gender, these questions are good for all writers to take the time to think about and express. Here are the questions and my answers to them.
#1 – Where does your time, attention, and energy go?
Well, I waste a lot of time on Facebook and reading web articles. Once I get started, I have great difficulty stopping and/or setting it aside for the rest of the day. Today, for example, I managed not to read my email and check Facebook first thing in the morning, but I did briefly look at Instagram. In the afternoon, I read online while I ate lunch. And it seems, like sugar, I can never seem to get enough. It spilled over into me reading in between driving on the way home, and then while I was eating dinner. I put off writing until after dinner.
Another attention getting/distraction is my cats, of course. My living room is also half office. One of the doorways does not have a door. So the cats come in an out looking for me all day long. More often than not, though, it is I who go looking for them. If Norman isn’t upstairs, then I go hunting for him downstairs. When I’m sitting down to work, that’s when they usually want petting, too.
Food is also a great distraction. Because I work intermittently from home, I try to eat home as much as possible. We do not have a dishwasher. Between food prep, eating, and cleaning, I spend a good chunk of my day dealing with food. I also like to eat junk food and snack, so that can be a source of energy distraction. I hear ice cream calling me right now.
Since I live upstairs from my mother, I can, at times, spend a lot of time helping her with medical or house related stuff. Repairs need to be done, doctors called, and appointments made. Now that it’s spring again, the amount of house related stuff I help her with goes up because she likes to garden. I also take her to appointments and shopping, especially when the weather is bad.
#2 – What is your writing process like?
I keep an accountability calendar to check off that I’m writing something every day. The minimum is one page in my letter-sized spiral notebook. On Mondays and Thursday, I blog. Other than that, I usually have an open schedule where I decide each morning how and when writing is going to fit into my day.
In April, I participated in Camp NaNo, set a goal of 30K words, and reached 22K. Because I need time in the morning to meditate, stretch, eat, clean up, shower, and get ready, I often don’t starting writing until late morning, at the earliest. Often, though, I write in the afternoons at Starbucks, if I can make it out of the house, and in the evenings, like tonight.
#3 – What tools are you using to help yourself feel more motivated, productive, and supported?
- The accountability calendar;
- Setting small, reachable goals, such as the 1-page per day writing in my spiral notebook or the 30K word goal for Camp NaNo in April;
- Participating in writing events, such as Camp NaNo, for the commitment, goal setting, and camaraderie with my fellow writers;
- Participating in a new, six-week community group for women writers;
- Participating in a bi-monthly writer’s critique group; and
- Keeping a daily writing journal.
#4 – Include how you feel about all of these things.
As I wrote out my answers above, especially in #3, I noticed that I felt better about all the ways in which I am currently working on my writing goals. I am making progress whereas I had been feeling discouraged. I find that I am often down on myself, telling myself that I am not doing enough. Instead, I should focus on what more I would like to do, e.g. turn a negative, rut-inducing statement into a positive, actionable one.
#5 – What’s your why? Why do you write in the first place?
Because I often think about wanting to write down my thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and as an avenue of exploration for each of these things. I blog to share what I’m doing, thinking, feeling, and learning, whether personally or professionally. To connect with others. To do something creative, artistic, and self-directed. As a means of working through procrastination and the ways in which I hold myself back, and my attempts, successes, and failures at trying to change them both.
Because I like it. To tell a story. To express myself. To challenge myself. To have a hobby. To hone a craft. To make money. To publish.
What are your answers to these questions?