The coming of Spring seems to have given me the kick in the ass I’ve been needing. Or maybe it was a combination of things that lit the fire under me until fingers started flying over keys again.
I think it was more of a domino effect of a few things, starting with my realization from my last post of who I wanted to dedicate Clockwork Heart too. When I finish the story, that is. (I still want to send those emails I talked of too, if anyone remembers/knows what I’m talking about.) That realization ignited the first spark of desire to write once more. Because I’m not going to get to Clockwork Heart again until I finish Fated to Darkness, and if my plan is to use Camp NaNo for writing that novella, then I need to get moving on finishing Book 1 of this series.
After all, there’s only eleven days left in March. Camp NaNo is fast approaching here. Eep.
The second domino falling was watching a fellow Snippeteer’s weekly live Facebook video to connect and talk to her followers. It wasn’t the video itself that tipped the domino, it was the topic she was providing insight on: how to get the words onto the page without getting distracted. More accurately, how to make time to write.
It made me realize something. Something I had known before and had started to work into my life but had eventually fallen through because, you know me and the words “follow through”.
Of course, with her life style as a full time writer, it’s easier to set a schedule for writing that could work around having no interruptions and wouldn’t also change day to day. She has the support in her life that helps make that schedule easier to stick to as well.
I don’t have those things. I can’t make a set time and schedule to make a habit of writing daily when I work a part time job in retail where a thing such as consistent hours and shifts are as mythical as the Loch Ness monster. I can’t quit said day job either to try to make writing my living (yet) when I still have bills to pay and not enough of a name for myself yet to venture that far. I don’t have the same support and understanding from friends or family where they would back off to give me the solitude needed to be able to write, or to keep others from bugging me.
I don’t have any of that. I’m pretty much on my own in this adventure, at least in trying to make it work with my life.
Despite the fact I don’t have the ability to set a specific schedule and time to write daily (unless I want to make it at midnight or later every single night, but then I’d never see or talk to any of my friends much) there is still something she reminded me I can do.
Every author out there knows social media of all forms are both an author’s best friend to build their fan base and the perfect platform to get yourself out there, and also an author’s worst enemy in lay they are a major time suck that we can get sucked into an endless abyss of memes, videos, and DIY recipes and never get anything done. Ever. Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Wattpad, YouTube… They are all demons and angels at the same time.
Sometimes the only way we’ll ever put words to a page is if we force ourselves away from those black holes of procrastination and sit down in a place, or a way, we can’t be tempted to wander on back to them. At least, not wander back easily enough by just a mouse click or tap of a finger on our phones.
I like calling this way of enforced self imprisonment with a countdown bomb your life depends on diffusing or satisfying in time “going dark”.
You’ve probably heard that term before. Going dark.
If you haven’t, going dark means to unplug from everything. It can mean going somewhere where there is no internet to distract you, and no LTE to turn to. It can mean shutting your phone off and leaving the house to go write somewhere without wi-fi. It can also mean you simply shut both your internet and phone off and you don’t touch them until you reach the goal you set.
To me that goal is your Bomb. The one your life depends on diffusing or satisfying so that it doesn’t explode on you and tear you up. The self imprisonment, what I’m going to refer to as your Insnare – yes, I spelled it wrong on purpose, is willing shutting every distraction and interruption out, of not letting your butt back out of that chair until your task is complete.
Of course, you could still break every single rule in the book of Missions and trigger your Bomb to explode by turning that phone and/or internet back on before you complete your assignment. But it’s a lot easier to tell yourself no and stay focused when you can’t access those black holes with one click.
Just like that there was my second domino falling, because I realized I had forgotten just how well that trick works. As J. K. Rowling once said, “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.”
Maybe our endless requests aren’t about meetings. Maybe they’re about social events, or the call to pick up another shift, or even as simple as a text message saying hello. In a sense, every distraction and interruption is a meeting you have a choice to say “give me two hours of complete solitude, and then we’ll talk” to. Or any version of the word “no”. You could blow your cover in the Mission by giving in.
Some people may understand your stubbornness, others may get frustrated and angry you’re blowing them off in a sense. But as J. K. said, be ruthless. The only way you’re going to get those words to the page is if you make it happen and don’t let everything else in this fast-paced, chaotic world get in your way. If the people butting in are true friends and supporters of the dreams you’re trying to achieve, they’ll understand and give you those few extra hours or whatever you need. Hell, if they’re true supporters they’ll encourage it and protect that time for you just as fiercely as you do.
On Sunday I took that initiative and dove into the dark to write, starting the first quest of what I’m calling Mission To Write. While I didn’t turn my wi-fi off, I didn’t open my internet browser at all to tempt me to hop over and check websites; and while my phone was playing music in the background, it was nowhere near me where I would see notifications pop up and whisper at me to check them. The goal was to stay in the dark until I had finished the chapter of Fated to Darkness I was on. Or rather, write until Once Upon A Time and Time After Time came on and then return to the Mission after my shows were over till my task was finished.
And I did it. In only about an hour and a half I had managed almost 2k words and was mere sentences away from finishing the chapter before my shows came on. If fact, I finished the final sentences during commercials because I found I didn’t want to stop again. Then after that I continued a bit further for the first 700 words of the next chapter.
I’m now down to the final FOUR chapters of Fated to Darkness.
That same night my third domino began to tip in the form of some fellow authors and friends I made through Wattpad coming to me with a proposal for forming a writer’s circle. Wattpad was good and all for sharing and garnering feedback and a fan base, but we’ve learned – thanks to my experience – how untrustworthy the site is for those really aspiring to be published; and also that sharing your work elsewhere can hurt your chances of getting it published because it counts as “previously published”.
With those two things heavy on our minds and hearts, we decided to ban together on our own and create a small group of those we’ve interacted with and grown close to, those we trust, to help each other on this crazy adventure of achieving our dreams. A group where we can share our work for feedback and opinions on all types of things within our writing. A group where we can bounce ideas off each other to help spark our imaginations and fix plot issues. A group where we are serious in our endeavors and will show each other the support and help we need to coax our dreams within our reach.
I may already have a group like that, but it can never hurt to have another. While the group I have now with two other friends is more geared toward simply holding ourselves accountable to writing, this group will provide a following-the-entire-journey beta reader’s insight. One can never have too many beta readers.
So my dominos have begun to fall and fuel my fire once more, and while they may have been shaken by all that goes on with Wattpad yet and other realizations in the realm of publishing, they are still blazing strong.
Maybe that was all I needed all along: Reminders on how to make it work with my life. There are many things wobbling on the edge of an uncertain abyss right now, many things I must think over and determine where my heart and goals lie – mainly with my story Rivers of Black right now. I am in no way over how these realizations have shaken me, for I feel betrayed and cheated by Wattpad yet, but perhaps I’ll have learned from this now. Perhaps even, it will be the insight I needed to take a step further toward my goals of becoming a published author as my career.
As a fellow author and friend once said, it takes balls to be an author, and my Mission To Write is only still beginning. One day, the target, S. P. Author (Successfully Published Author), of my Mission will be in my grasp.