Sunday, August 19, 2012

Writing Workout

Distractions, Distractions, Distractions

I finally gave in and bought a new iPhone yesterday.  Yes, I was living in the technological dark ages where my phone only did calling and texting.  Last night, at 11:30 pm (I'm usually asleep by 10), I was reminded of why I put off this purchase.  I spent my entire day exploring on my phone.  It's just one more distraction in the already too long list that keeps me from doing what I truly love, writing.    
Writing Workout
I decided today that I need to approach this realistically.  There's no way I'm giving up the distractions.  It's fun and important for a writer to participate in social networking.  But just like you need to do a variety of exercises for different parts of your body, you need to find a balance for your writing.  
Now it's important to remember that we're not all the same in our goals.  A personal trainer would design a specific plan for you.  That is how you should approach your writing workout.  Follow the steps below to help you achieve this:
  1. Make a list of your goals and prioritize them by importance.  For example, finishing a chapter a day is the most important thing for me on my list. This is where I will devote the most time.  Maybe social networking or editing are most important on your list.  There is no wrong way to do this, it's all about what's best for you.
  2. Design your workout plan by assigning a specific amount of time for each activity or an end result you want to achieve each day.  I will be writing first everyday.  After finishing one chapter, I've allowed myself 30 minutes for social networking and then 30 minutes of editing.  
  3. Be flexible, but don't stray too far from your plan.  Let's face it, the best laid plans get trashed when life happens.  There will be times when you have to roll with the punches.  The kids get out of school early, your friend stops by for some coffee and a chat, the hermit crabs escape from their cage.  What are you going to do then?  These things and many more pop up at the most inconvenient times, like when you're on a writing roll and in the middle of a great scene.  Have a contingency plan for your schedule.  These things are important, but so is your writing. 
  4.  Last, but most importantly (in my opinion), allow yourself a cheat day.  Now don't get carried away here.  I said day, not week or month.  How hard is it to stick to a diet and exercise plan when you don't allow yourself a little reward for all your hard work?  Take this approach with your writing.  It doesn't have to be a day every week, that's just an example.  But, give yourself a break and a pat on the back without feeling guilty for it.  I still haven't decided how I'll handle this one.  It may be a day off from writing or buying a book I've been wanting.  Decide on something that will motivate you to keep going.
There are a few things to that may help you succeed in your plan.
  • Find a buddy to help you stay on track.  A fellow writer or someone who will hold you accountable will help you stick to your plan and motivate you along the way.  I have a great editing group that I know will help me with this.
  • If you stray, don't wait too long to get back on track.  I know my plan is going to be hard to follow some days.  There will be weeks I'm sure where it will all fall apart.  These are the times I will count on myself and my group to motivate me to get back to my plan.
  • Don't be afraid to adjust your workout.  After you begin, you may find your plan doesn't work for you.  Go back to the drawing board and develop something more manageable for success.
  • Pick a start day and do it!  I always start new things on a Monday, so tomorrow's GO DAY for me.
  •  Have fun and take time to appreciate the results of your labor.  An exercise program tones your body and makes you feel great (hopefully).  Bask in the glory of your completed manuscript knowing that you stuck to a plan and it worked!
  • Don't forget the small successes.  Every day you stick to your plan is a good day.  Feel good about it!   

I'm really excited about the workout I've designed for myself and hope it will help in keeping my writing on track.  If you try this plan, I would love to hear about it or any other ideas you may have.  Happy Writing!