You hear it all the time, right? "Treat writing like it's your job". But what does that mean?
I think it means different things for different people. For me, it means sticking to a schedule, and only deviating from that schedule for things of the utmost importance (as in, not for that interesting article my friend just posted on facebook).
What schedule would be best for me? I've decided that one hour, first thing in the morning, is a good place for me to start. Of course, to make a career out of writing I'll need to spend much more than an hour a day on it, but I know from experience that starting myself off with too much is a good way to ensure I'll fail. So for now, one hour a day it is.
For my actual job (teaching), I wake up an hour before I have to leave, and I'm out the door at 6:45 am. I think that the same routine will work well for my writing "job". I've decided that my writing "job" will start at 9:00 am every morning. This means I'll have to wake up at 8:00 am, which means I have to be turning the lights out at midnight (I like my sleep!). Of course, the nice thing about writing as a job is that the starting time is flexible. I can make it earlier if I have something going on that day, or later if I was out late the night before. But, for most of the summer, 9:00 am is perfectly doable.
Seems like a great plan, right? The only problem is, with a real job there are other people there depending on you to show up and do your work. With writing you don't have that, unless you happen to have a writer friend close by who keeps the same schedule as you. I don't.
I've failed in the past because it's too easy for me to say "I don't feel like it right now, maybe later". Later almost never comes.
How will I keep myself accountable? I've set up three systems to do just that. The first is my alarm app on my phone. I've set one alarm for 11:00 pm, to remind me to get ready for bed. The next is at 8:00 am, to wake me up, and the last is at 8:58 am, to give me a two minute warning to get to work. I also put my phone across the room at night so that when the alarm goes off I have to get up to turn it off. This makes it much more likely that I'll actually get up ;).
The second system is using the chrome extension, StayFocusd. I've set it up to block all distracting websites (facebook, reddit, gmail, netflix, etc), from 9-10 am. This way I won't be able to surf away half my writing time.
Okay, so I've set up two systems that will ensure I wake up on time and that I can't procrastinate on the internet while I'm supposed to be working. But what's to stop me from procrastinating by doing something else? Reading, crocheting, playing with my dog, or cooking some breakfast? That's where the third system comes in handy.
During NaNoWriMo, I'm very motivated by the wordcount tool. I like that my progress is public, up on the internet for the world to see (not that anyone's really looking, but that's beside the point). However, I can only use that wordcount tool for one month out of the year. What about the other eleven months?
Yesterday I went looking for a wordcount tool I could put on the side of my blog. I found a very simple one, which only shows how many words I've written out of my goal for my WIP, which is 80,000. I'm thinking now I'm going to see if I can find one that's more like the NaNoWriMo one, with a graph, so that I can see my daily progress, especially because I'm doing some rewriting right now as well as writing new scenes.
So! This post turned out to be really long, which hopefully means I've thought it out well enough that it will work for me! The real test will be next week, when I'm on vacation in Florida for my sister's graduation. Yikes.
I'll update soon and let you know how my "new job" is going. Hah.