Challenging My Excuses and Other Stuff

Scott William Carter   May 13, 2008  

I decided I needed to do a reality check on whether my 50% drop in writing productivity since my son was born was really related to that event, or whether it’s just been a convenient excuse.  It’s true that finding time to write isn’t as easy as it used to be, and it’s true that life is just plain harder than it was before, but if I’m waiting for life to get easier, I have a feeling I’m going to be waiting a long time.  I needed to challenge my excuses and see how well they held up under more objective scrutiny.

So I set myself a new goal:  write 1000 words a day for a 100 days for a total of 100,000 words.  I decided I would try my best to hit 1000 words every day, but if I occasionally missed, I could do 2000 the next day to catch up.  The words could be novel or short story words, but they had to be fiction, and they had to be new. 

Well, the jury’s still out on whether I’ll meet the challenge, but I did 13 days for 13,000 words and only had to do a 2000 word day once.  During that time, not only did I work the full-time day job and do all the normal family and household/yard stuff, I also did all the following in that 13-day span:

  • Spent a day helping give my daughter a pony party (with a real pony!) for her fifth birthday
  • Went to the zoo with my family, eating up a Sunday
  • Took an afternoon off and went on a coastal hike with my sister, who was visiting from NY
  • Visited with my father for an afternoon and evening Saturday, who was visiting from Hawaii
  • Spent an afternoon and evening out at the coast guest-speaking at a writer’s workshop

So all in all, a busy time, not crazy-out-of-my-mind busy, but an ordinary level of busy for how my life is now.  What did I learn?  I learned that through it all, I could write at the pace I’d like to be at — a pace that will help keep me in track with my goals.  There were quite a few days where I was writing late in my office, dead tired, but I was able to write.  I produced pages.  I learned that I could write and still have a social life, still have time for books, still have time for movies.  I also learned that through it all, I still wasted gobs of time. 

That last lesson was the most painful. 

So yes, life is harder, no denying that.  But the time is there.  It just has to be used more effectively, which is what I’m focusing on now. 

A few other things:

  • Speaking of that writer’s workshop, I had a great time out there on the Oregon coast.  I have lots of experience talking to groups because of my day job, but I was much more self-conscious talking about writing, but the writers seemed to get something out of it.  Mainly, it was about how to switch agents from a newer writer’s point of view (and from one who hadn’t even sold a novel at the time), but the the conversation ranged all over the place.  Great fun.  And I learned a few things that made it worth the trip all by itself. 
  • John Scalzi has some great thoughts on why YA science fiction/fantasy sells better than adult science fiction/fantasy — and also why writers in YA are paid more than their adult-writing counterparts.  Here and Here.  Great stuff. 
  • Now I know why I’m not happy all the time.  I should be a church-going conservative.  Hmm  . . . Nah . . .
  • Along those lines, a private Einstein letter confirms he really was an atheist, and that he only spoke of God as a metaphor for the laws of nature.  I wish he would have been more clear when he was alive on this matter, as Richard Dawkins has done, but it’s nice to know.  
  • Check out The First Book.  Two new writers up there since the last time I posted, both with great stories about their journeys to being published authors.  How long will I keep doing this?  Who knows, but I’m going to try to keep it up until I’ve done at least 100 of them — which should be about the time my own first book comes out.

Finally, a picture that explains why no matter how many places I visit in this great country of ours, I just can’t get myself to live anywhere else.  This is Cascade Head, where I recently hiked with my sister:

cascade-head2.jpg

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