Discipline can be wildly liberating
This year I have set myself a goal. To write a book. Let’s be honest, it’s the same goal as last year!
The book is not yet finished, and while I have made progress and learnt some things (like writing a book is harder than you think). I don’t want to have the same goal again next year.
So this year I have a number of strategies to get this manuscript finished.
Don’t be a loner
I love the classic image of a writer in a garret in Paris, hunched over a desk, etching out her manuscript painstakingly in fountain pen.
It’s a romantic image.
The reality is writing can be a very isolating endeavour, even with social media and modern technology, and it’s not romantic, just lonely.
So I intentionally set up writing dates with people. One way I do this is through a ‘Shut up and write’ group with the Inspire Collective, where we meet together monthly to chat and then write. I also have a weekly writing date with a fellow writer.
Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed
I have surrounded myself with people who I ask me, ‘How is the book going?’
I met with Amanda for a creative retreat at the beginning of the year to organise my week. I regularly send drafts to another friend for editing and comments.
I am accountable. These people have permission to expect to see tangible results rather than vague wishful thinking.
Think of it as work
A huge shift in my thinking this year is actually calling myself a ‘working mum’.
My workdays are Monday, Tuesday and Friday. While there is no pay packet that goes with this shift in my head, it has made a massive change in how I arrange my life and approach my work.
I no longer schedule appointments on my workdays, or I have to figure out where my overtime is going to be.
Prioritise the work that doesn’t have a set deadline
As well as writing this book, I write for blogs and I have speaking engagements as well. These blog posts and speaking events have a due date. My book doesn’t, except for one I create in my head.
It has been crucial for me to move the book-writing to the front of the week (Monday and Tuesday) and the blog posts to the back.
Things with a deadline will always get done. By prioritising my book that is also getting done.
Feed the creative muse
A revolutionary addition to my schedule this year has been setting aside one day a week to feed my creative muse.
Writing is about output, getting the story out. I have found to have anything to write, I need to get filled up.
This day of the week is fast becoming my favourite. Some days I go to a café, some days I bake, some days I watch a movie. The point is that I take the time to be inspired.
I seek it.
Instead of staring at a blank screen willing inspiration to come to me.
Say no to good things
I have had a number of great opportunities to serve, write and share come my way this year. These are opportunities that fit my passions and my skills and would grow me and extend my reach.
I have had to be clear about what I say yes to, which is hard with so many good opportunities available.
But I have a focus on two main things this year; my family, and my writing. If these opportunities on offer impact on those two things I have to say no. Which isn’t easy, but I am aware of how crucial it is, and so I am saying the hard no.
I start each day by lighting a candle and spend some time in prayer and journaling.
For me, this is a vital part of my creative process. It brings me peace after the frantic school run, slowing me down to get into writing mode, and it allows me to go back to the source of my creativity.
I’m also having a Think day each month. A day set aside with no agenda, no social media, and no other voices. A day to sit with my thoughts and see what emerges. As the poet Rumi says,
Listen to the silence it has so much to say