Writer's Block and Achievable Goals

Every writer experiences writer's block. In the past mine have lasted several months to several years. I blame kids, pregnancies, and other life stuff for those big chunks of time. To stave off writers block this year (2017) and to finally achieve my big goal of being published, I made tiny writing goals each month.

In the beginning (January-March), my goal was to write 1000 words a week. Easy right? 200 words a day M-F?  It wasn't so easy. With three kids under 5, it was near impossible some weeks.

But I kept making goals. Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes I didn't.  But by trying again and again, week after week, month after month, I finally got to the point where writing 1000 words in a day wasn't such a daunting task.

Then, in the month of October I wrote 25k words in preparation for the big 50k November goal.  25,000 words! That was a big accomplishment and I hit the ground running as November began.  But here we are toward the end of the month and I've only written just over 20k.

Big editing deadlines, plus my birthday, a sick baby, and now the coming holiday has pumped the brakes on my writing.

But 20,000 words...that's still pretty good and the month isn't over. I can probably beat my word count from last month even. I should take that as a major win!

Okay, so if you're reading this you might not be a writer, but I have a point. Had I attempted this huge goal in January with everything that happened and my other responsibilities, by the 21st of the month, I assure you my word count would have been a big fat zero. But by making small goals and building throughout the year...I have quite a few more than zero words written.

Plus, I have a finished novel that is halfway through the editing process that will be ready for publication in a couple of months.

Keep Swimming

I had a freak out moment this week. The kind that derails everything when everything seems to be going so well. The first round of edits for my debut novel were going beautifully, I was prepping for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month: the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel), and I was furiously writing the first draft of the second book in my series. 

I was on my way to fulfilling my dream of becoming an author. 

On Halloween, the day before Nanowrimo starts, I had a flash concern about one of my subplots in the second book in my series. I didn't want to offend in a world that gets so offended, so I posted the question to my writing group. One person said to go for it, they'd help me make sure the storyline wouldn't be taken the wrong way. Another person advised that I not do it, that no matter how delicately or beautifully I might write this specific storyline, it was a very real possibility that I could make a lot of enemies when my career as a writer was still in its infancy. 

I wanted to take the first person's advice so I could win it at Nanowrimo, (that was the next section to be written in the novel) but I didn't want to risk the possibility of ruining everything by doing it. 

That same night, I received an email from my editor with "big picture" suggestions about my first book, the book I thought had been edited and perfected and polished wonderfully by both her and I. And now I could see the glaring flaws in the plot, certain characters, and other things that makes a novel good. 

So for a moment I wallowed. On November 1st, I began to write the possibly offensive storyline in order to have high word-counts for that first day, but my heart wasn't in it as I told myself the storyline would probably be scrapped when I eventually found another one. And I fretted over how to fix my broken first book that had deadlines to be met. 

For a moment I wondered if I should even keep writing. If I was even good enough. But it only lasted a moment, because writing makes me happier. It makes me a better mom and wife when I make the time to do it.

I had to keep going. As Dory would say, I had to just "keep swimming."

So I contacted my beta readers aka, mom, dad, one of my brothers, and my sister. All who had read an unedited version of my novel.  We got together and hashed out all of the problems my editor had pointed out. And with their help, I figured out how to fix them.  As I was getting ready to leave, I mentioned the possibly offensive subplot in the next book and that I couldn't think of a better one.  In an instant they came up with an alternate idea. A story that I could write without the risk, but would still tell the whole story the way I wanted to. A storyline I could write proudly.

Now I've got my work cutout for me, word counts to catch up on, and more edits than I'd originally planned with deadlines that feel even sooner because of it.  But it felt good the day after that meeting, to sit down and begin that new subplot knowing that other than the many edits it would require, the story of Isabelle on a ship wouldn't get cut.