The second half of 2022 was a struggle in terms of bolstering my creativity. I felt like I didn’t achieve that much and that I was always trying to force myself to work on my writing projects, and generally failing.
Doing an objective review of what I achieved across the year showed me that my sense of my own productivity wasn’t particularly accurate – though it was true I didn’t make much progress on the new novel idea I’d had back in April.
I was very much hoping that the motivational, goal-setting enthusiasm of the new year would galvanise me back into gear – and it sort of has?
When I sat down in early January to plan out my goals for 2023, I set myself an ambitious plan to write three scenes of the new novel per week, completing one on each of my scheduled ‘work’ days. I calculated how long it would take me to complete a first draft with that plan, and thought about telling my editor now when she could expect the manuscript for initial feedback.
But my enthusiasm for working on the project was still absent.
I also considered what I know about how I react to that kind of schedule. Given a target of completing a scene on each ‘work’ day, those scenes would inevitably end up shorter than I wanted them to be and I would be short-changing the story.
So, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of setting myself a specific amount of progress, I told myself I would work on the novel for a set amount of time on each ‘work’ day, and get as far as I got. I would also keep myself strictly to the planned word count for each scene – so, if I spent an hour on the novel and only wrote 500 words, I would carry on working on that scene the next day, until it reached the appropriate length. It would likely take me a lot longer to complete my first draft, but at least it would be a full-length novel by the end of it. And besides, I have no external deadlines for this book, so why put myself under pressure to complete it by a set date?
I figured it was more important to commit to spending the time on it and not place undue pressure on its completion.
To date, I have worked on the novel on every scheduled day – and, generally speaking, I’ve made more progress than I expected. I’m actually averaging one complete scene per session, which will get me to the end of the first draft by my original deadline, if I continue at this rate!
The subconscious crew are working overtime to come up with great ideas for each new scene before I need to actually sit down and write it, as well as providing me with additional details to add into the outline for later stages. It still sometimes takes me a while to get myself started, but once I begin typing, the words are flowing, I’m not having any trouble hitting my desired word counts for each scene, and I’m very happy with how it’s going overall.
I like this story. I think I’ve planned it well. I think it might be my best yet. And it seems like it’s progressing fairly easily towards the most complete first draft I’ve ever produced.
But the enthusiasm still isn’t there.
I’m still not actively engaged in the process. I still don’t actually ever want to sit down and write the thing. It would still be much easier just to not bother.
I do want it to be written, though – even if I don’t want to write it! So, I’m employing the ‘eat the frog’ approach and making myself work on the next scene at the very start of each ‘working’ day – and this approach is producing results.
There’s definitely a question to be asked about why I’m forcing myself to do this, if I really don’t want to. After all, nobody is waiting for this book. The only person who is making me write it is me. And if I don’t want to do it, why bother?
But I don’t think I want to answer those questions – and the fact that I’m shying away from thinking about that, and that I’m making progress each week towards producing something I’m proud of, tells me I should just keep going and see what happens.