Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Figuring Out Why I Don't Write Enough

Since my last post, I have written 728 words of The Lightless Labyrinth.  That's how much I've managed to do in the space of a fortnight: an average of 52 words a day.  I probably get too hung up on word counts for my own good, but that's pathetic by any standard.  If it was an occasional lapse, I wouldn't be concerned.  But it isn't.  I started this blog with the intention of making positive reports about my progress, but it's been nothing but a constant stream of bitching about my own laziness.  I wouldn't want to read it, and I sure as hell don't like writing it.

So why don't I write more?  It's what I want to do with my life, and has been for decades.  I think about it all the time, but thinking doesn't get anything done.  It's time to lay out the things that are keeping me from getting more done, and perhaps think of some ways around them.  To diagnose my problems, and find the solutions.  I've tried it in the past and failed, but it can't hurt anything to try again, so here goes.

Work.  I work a full-time job, which takes up most of my time.  I could get a lot of writing done without this, but quitting or dropping my hours isn't an option; I do have a family to feed after all.  I try to make that time as productive as I can, by listening to podcasts and audiobooks.  I don't think there's much I can do about this one.

Family.  I'm married, and also have a son, and I try to spend as much time with my family as I can.  I don't start writing until he goes to bed, and that can be as late as 10.30 on some nights.  Again, this isn't something that I can avoid.  Dan Wells (of the excellent Writing Excuses podcast) has talked about how he used to get home from work, then instantly sequester himself to get some writing done.  That's not something I want to do, though perhaps I could take some time out on the weekends.

Leisure Activities.  I spent most of my twenties on the dole, with no job, which gave me a lot of free time.  It's time that I now wish I'd spent more wisely, but it's too late for that now.  Back then I could watch all the movies and TV shows I wanted, and play all the video games, and go out with my mates, and just generally have a good time.  Now I'm trying to cram all of that into a five-hour window every night, as well as trying to write.  My usual plan is to read for a while until I'm certain my son is asleep, then work on my novel, then blog for a bit, then do whatever else I feel like doing until I go to sleep.  In practice, after I read for a bit I get distracted by the internet, or start watching some wrestling, thinking that I'll write after I'm done.  I rarely do.  The solution is simple: get my writing done first.  It's all a matter of willpower, but that's not something I have a lot of.

Lack of Sleep.  This is a big one.  With everything I try to cram in at night, and a job to get up for in the morning, I rarely get a full night's sleep.  I used to deal with this better, but as I approach forty I'm finding it more difficult, and the nights where I fall asleep before I can get anything done are becoming more frequent.  I should probably try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night, but I'm a night owl.  Going to bed before midnight just sounds unnatural to me.  I'd stay awake all night and sleep through the day if I could.

Lack of Motivation: This is the real killer, I think, and there's no easy way around it.  As much as I want to be a writer, I find endless excuses to not write.  I'm too tired.  I can't be bothered.  I need to watch this movie/play this game/read these comics/write this blog/stay current with wrestling.  This is simultaneously the simplest and most difficult problem I have.  Just sitting down to write would solve it.  If changing my ways was that easy, though, I would have done it years ago.

Wow, that's a lot of whining and self-pity.  So here's my plan.  I can't avoid work, or shun my family.  Neither of those is an option.  I can sacrifice some leisure time, though.  I'm going to make an active effort to write at night before starting other things.  I'll also set myself a time-limit on staying awake: 2.30am.  It's still probably not enough, but it's an improvement on the nights I do now, where I'm up until 3 or 4.  And hey, if I'm in the middle of RAW, I can always pause it and watch the rest the next night.  As for motivation, there's one simple solution: do it.  Write.  Forget the excuses, and just write.  It's the only way I'll ever get anything done.  If history is any indication I won't succeed, but that's partly what this blog is for: to publicly shame myself when I fail.  I'll report back in next Monday, and let you know how it went.

The Lightless Labyrinth: 728 words (46,239 total)


What I've Been Reading:
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
Out of Time's Abyss by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Marvel Timeline Project Part 1 by Jeff Dieschen and Murray Ward

What I've Been Watching:
Loads of WWE (including Summerslam 2014)

What I've Been Listening To:
Purple Rain by Prince
In Search of Space by Hawkwind

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Quietly Productive Month

It's been a while since I last posted, but these things happen.  I haven't had a particular urge to update things on here for a while, nor have I really had anything to write about.  Some people can bang on about there own writing endlessly, and never run out of interesting things to say.  I'm not one of them, so I decided not to force it.

To be honest I don't even have much to say in this post, but I decided to make an update anyway.  In ding so I compiled my word count, and I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised.  I've been quietly plugging away at The Lightless Labyrinth, but I wouldn't say that I've been working hard.  Even so I've racked up a respectable total by my own standards.  If I did this much every month, I'd have a good-sized novel every two years or so.  That's not bad.

The best thing about this is that I know I can do better.  This is me on autopilot, writing a little bit here and there when I find the time.  There was a period of eight days in there where I did no writing at all.  The effort I need to put in to increase my output is negligible.  I can do it, and I can do it without killing myself.  That's good to know.

 The Lightless Labyrinth: 6,242 words (45,501 total)


What I've Been Reading:
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The People That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Marvel Timeline Project Part 1 by Jeff Dieschen and Murray Ward

What I've Been Watching:
Loads of WWE

What I've Been Playing:
The Game of Dungeons (aka dnd)