For the last five years, "writer" has been a part of my day-job title. I feel fortunate to be working in a field that I enjoy and my writing has only improved because of it. I've seen tremendous growth in my fiction writing, as well, and in more ways than one. Not only has the writing itself improved, but so has the discipline.
While a paycheck is probably the most powerful motivation to get a project done at the day-job and with freelance work, you don't quite have that same motivation when you're an unpublished writer.
So how do you do it?
For me, it's come down to one thing. I have to want it bad enough. I have to want to succeed, whatever my definition of success may be. And my definition is to be a published author. That means I balance my time. I don't spend hours watching mindless t.v. (I don't have cable anyway). I don't spent gobs of time on the internet when I'm at home. I don't spend hours reading a book (this hurts sometimes, especially if it's a good book!).
During the weekdays, my time is pretty regimented. There's the day job from 8-5, then I go work out three times a week, pick my daughter up from daycare, make supper, and then I have approximately 3 1/2 hours before bedtime. I have to devote at least an hour or two to the writing - and right now, I'm in research/plotting mode for the next novel, so that could include reading a research book, tapping notes on the computer, or doing online research. When it comes time to write, I often will make my schedule accomodate a good two hours of writing time during the weekdays.
Do I stick to this rigid schedule? Not always. I allow myself plenty of flexibility. When you're a mother, you have to. And my daughter is my most important priority. If she wants to play a game of UNO, then by golly, that's what we'll do. If we decide to enjoy the unexpectedly cool summer evening with a walk over to the duck pond, we'll do that, too. A shopping trip to the mall on a Friday night complete with a yummy homemade cookie from the Cookie Company? We're there!
Stay balanced. Keep your discipline. Allow yourself off days. And don't beat yourself up when you get off track. That's not good for the motivation! Just shrug your shoulders, say, "Life happens" and get back to your schedule tomorrow. Or, completely throw my advice out the window and do it whatever way works for you. If you want it bad enough, you'll figure out a way to make it work - your way.
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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