So I’ve decided to rework my initial Writing To-Do List plan.
THE WAY IT WAS
PROS: I had a visual list of everything I needed to get done at some point from planning to writing to editing to submitting. Excellent. I need that big-picture mentality to see that I’m not wasting time. Plus, speaking of not wasting time, it was convenient that when I wasn’t in the mood to work on one project, I could pick up another item on the list and still be productive. Marvellous!
CONS: No due dates. No pressure. Some of the projects were so much BIGGER than others, that it was easier to cross off short projects, but that meant that even three or four days’ work on a larger one amounted to no sign of progress via the list. It also made it much easier to drift around without committing to any end-dates for certain projects. Not good.
THE WAY IT IS NOW:
I’m going to have two lists. One is a list of all the things I need to do, be they days or weeks or months down the road from happening. The other (now the WTDL here) is my monthly goal list. This list will be much shorter (and this month’s especially, since I’ve only got two weeks to work with), and the goal is for the items on that list to be all completed by the end of a given month. Next month, I’ll post the list of what I’m hoping to get done. I’m trying to give myself some wiggle room, too. I could try to push myself into another Chekhov year, but given that my time is spread somewhat thin, I’d rather underestimate what I can get done than overestimate and feel guilty for not squeezing in every second I could OR for choosing to rewrite a stubborn chapter/scene, only to lose time.
See, I’m not one of those writers who can force pages down, even when morbidly unmotivated. I respect the dedication of those who can, but it kills me to do it myself. It feels like a waste of time because I know I’m just going to go back and cut it all out the next day. So why force the middle-man? Some say it’s better just to get words on the page everyday, which I don’t disagree with, but I think for me it’s a matter of consciously building up the motivation I need to write on something, even if not one of my current projects.
I see motivation not as an intangible thing that comes and goes, but as something I can stoke up like a fire if I take the time to put in some effort. But that’s mental work, not busy work, which is what forcing pages when I’m fighting it feels like to me. If I’m in a hyper critical mood, I’d rather edit than put new words on the page, because I’ll just hate whatever new I put down because it isn’t “perfect”. If I’m in a dreamy, creative mood, there’s no point in trying to force myself to edit, because I’m much too good at distracting myself.
But motivation is all in my head. If I really *need* to work on something, I’ll focus on getting into that mood, that zone, that feel. I’ll listen to the songs that jump-start my excitement about the story. I’ll daydream about the next scene and how I can make it one I’m looking forward to writing. It often takes effort, especially when all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and zone out on TV. And I don’t make myself write every single day. There are some days with my current schedule where it just isn’t feasible. I try not to make myself feel guilty about that, because ultimately living my life will also fuel future ideas and give me material to work with, and I think that’s important too.
So the goal of this new list is to focus my energy a little more efficiently so that I actually *complete* things in a timely manner, which will make me feel better about being productive, but I’m trying to keep it from getting too overwhelming so I have space and time for those eureka moments when a new story pops into my head and I have to write it NOW. I don’t want to question those moments simply because I’m trying to meet a deadline on something else. ^_^