Promises, Promises…

Newsletter 056 – February 9, 2024

Hi,

The previous newsletter was about opportunities (like grants and paid residencies), which can be excellent resources for writers (when they are successful), but can also be time-wasters (when they don’t pan out). Anything that wastes a writer’s time isn’t good for their productivity, of course, so it’s important for me to have some goals to aim toward to keep me focused. Last year I set several goals that I thought would be achievable, but they weren’t. This year I need to do a better job.

Late last year, while I was still struggling, trying to write the middle section of Flood and Fire [and I still am] I realized I needed to step up my game in the future. For a brief crazy moment I thought that (once I had finished Flood  and  Fire  and  Jagged  Man) I would try writing two novels each year (always having one in the editing stage while I was in the creation stage of the other one). I even worked out a basic outline for the first Merle Boudreaux book so I wouldn’t need to spend too much time organizing it before I started work on it.

Seriously? What was I thinking? At the moment I seem incapable of even finishing a short novel in a year, Why would I tackle two full-length ones?

In other words, setting goals is fine, but I need to keep them a bit more realistic, plus I need to work on my focus (hoping the outside world doesn’t throw too many curve balls my way this year). How do I do that? Here’s my proposal for the next twelve months: Complete my current assignments; Limit my distractions; and Establish (and stick to) a specific writing routine.

My Current Assignments: Obviously, the major things I need to finish this year are these newsletters and Flood  and  Fire  and  Jagged  Man (including everything required to get both books published and marketed before the end of the year). With whatever remaining time I have, I need to start working on my next novel; which could be either Murder Between Friends, The Hawthorn’s Sting, or Ends and Beginnings (my working title for Book One of the Merle Boudreaux post-apocalyptic Arthurian series). I don’t know which one it will be yet, I’m still trying to decide. Hopefully I’ll finish Flood  and  Fire  and  Jagged  Man quickly enough that I can be deep into writing that next novel before this time next year.

Limit My Distractions: I probably can’t do anything about some of the external interruptions, but I should be able to control things I create myself. I’ll spend the next week listing those things that pull me away from writing and come up with some ideas for restricting them.

Establish a Specific Writing Routine: My current routine is a bit free-form. I “write” from the time I get up until lunchtime, and “write” again after lunch until I shut down for supper and then I watch TV with Minay and/or read until bedtime

(Note: “writing” includes research and thinking about what I need to write, as well as actually typing words into Scrivener or Microsoft Word). Unfortunately, mixed into that “writing” time, are items like checking and responding to email, social media time, bathroom and coffee breaks, plus an assortment of basic responsibilities (like dishes, garbage, yardwork, taxes, etc.), only a few of which happen at specific times, and all of which interrupt my writing. To organize that jumbled mess, I’d like to establish a schedule that restricts some of those things to specific times during the day. Once the schedule is set, my biggest challenge will be sticking to it.

The next newsletter will be an overview of my decision, and how I plan to deal with a new routine. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe it will help increase my productivity.

See you then,

Michael

[“Never promise more than you can perform,”
Maxim 528, Pubilius Syrus, First Century B.C.]

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