Of Goals and Structure

Once upon a time, I had a great routine. I’d get up, head to Starbucks and write.  I did this for several years, through several unpublished years and the first two published books.

Sometime during published book #3 I got a dog. Pup-pup was awesome, but he made me feel guilty if I left him home alone. So I stayed home too.  Then Mom moved to a nursing home nearby, I got a part time job and Facebook Messenger became a thing. Little by little, my great routine eroded.

Not good when you want to accomplish things.  See, I’m not the best when it comes to self-motivation.  I am wicked good at wanting to be self-motivated but I need an outside influence to keep me on track.  Gretchin Rubin would call me an “obliger”.  I succeed and exceed if I’m accountable to someone else.  I drag my butt out of bed to walk every dawn because my friend, Michelle is expecting me.  I arrive at work on time and get all my work done because they tend not to pay you if you don’t.

With writing however, I’m left to my own devices.  Let’s face it – writing is hard and it’s extremely easy to push off in favor of other things, like napping, folding laundry, running errands.  Blogging.  (And okay, maybe I also have a wee bit of an Internet addiction that, when alone, can get out of hand.)

Wanted: A Writer’s Camp

Ideally, I would belong to a group similar to Kirstin Painter’s writer’s camp.  She and three other writers gather at each other’s home where they keep talking to a minimum and instead, focus on work for 5-6 hours a day. (Might even be more; I vaguely remember her saying they do a 9-5 routine with a break in lunch.)

I have tried to create such a group several times. Unfortunately, it’s always failed.  For such a group to work, all the members have to be on the same page, at least in terms of wanting to spend 5-6 hours a day writing (or even 3-4 hours a day) without tempting each with offers of lunch or friendly gossip.  Problem is, writers are as alike as snowflakes.  We all have different creative routines (as well as part time jobs).

So, having ruled out the existence of a local writer’s camp – for now – Anyway, last week I went back to my original routine of going to the coffee shop first thing on my days off. Let me tell you – getting out of the house is hard! It’s an incessant voice telling me to just stay on the couch and write there.  Once I do drag myself out, I lock down the phone and Internet, and actually get words done.  Now I just have to create a similar routine for the days I’m at the store. Afternoons at the café loom in my future.

Goals, Goals, Goals

Why is developing a routine so damn important? Because I have goals and I’m tired of not making them., that’s why.  Every year I develop a list of plans.  This year’s plans include:

  • Writing two Harlequin romances;
  • Updating my website;
  • Incorporating original fiction into this blog;
  • Doing some video chatting with readers;
  • Working on a nonfiction project with my bestie, Donna Alward;
  • Getting Book 2 of the Sadie McIntyre books published; and
  • Embarking on my first major general fiction project.

It’s an ambitious set of plans, but I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m ready t be a little more ambitious.  If I am going to accomplish more, however, I need to be better about using my time.

And so, step one is creating structure and upping my productivity.  Step two, by the way, is hiring a virtual assistant, but that’s another blog post.

In the meantime, I appreciate you indulging this long blog post.  I’d be super curious to know what you all do to stay structured.  If you have tips – pass them along!  (Oh, and if you’re interested in that whole writer’s camp thing and live in my area – let me know!)

Have a great rest of the week!  As always, thanks for reading!

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