Today’s guest blog is from the amazing author Catherine Labadie. This post helps motivate me to get back on the productivity grind ! To learn more about Catherine, keep reading or check out her Author Spotlight here on the blog as well. If you would like to be a guest blogger, fill out this form and I will get back to you ASAP!
Moving forward is hard.
The force of inexorable change can’t be stopped, but a lot of times—in writing as well as in life—it feels like it’s…stuck. Any job can make you feel like you’re drowning in day by day, hour by hour tasks that you’ve done a thousand times before. Writing is no different. It actually feels so slow, at times, that you can’t even tell you’re moving at all.
There’s a spark, sometimes. A burst of inspiration that sets your fingers writing or typing more rapidly than you have in a while, and pages flutter out from your imagination unhindered…but then the lights dim. The brainwaves stop singing. You’re back to the daily grind that smothers both you and your manuscript in boredom or disappointment. Perhaps you feel like this writing thing isn’t worth it, or that it’s worth it for some people…just not for you.
Forward movement. It’s not a mantra, or magic words that push me to write more or faster. It’s not even the thing that convinced me to sit down at the end of 2018 after releasing Long Grows the Dark and plan a schedule to help me further my writing career at a reasonable pace. I won’t say “if you want to write, then you’ll write” even though it’s a little true. Some people who really want to write can’t commit the time or money a quality, publishable book requires. That’s okay: whatever phase of life they’re in will pass, and eventually they’ll make it to their dreams or find another goal that makes their heart happy. But it is about wanting. It’s about a desire to bring a story to life chapter by chapter, page by page, and word by word.
Even if those words take forever and a day to add up into the meaningful world you want to create.
I suppose it’s a question you have to ask yourself on a daily basis: what am I doing today to contribute to the forward movement of my book or my dream? Most of the time it will be punching a word count into a spreadsheet to keep track of your progress. Sometimes the number will be small and seemingly insignificant, and you’ll push away a hollow feeling and make excuses to yourself about why you couldn’t do better. Sometimes it’ll be a huge number you’ll grin about when you tell your writing friends or people who support you. Most of the time, however large the number, it won’t feel like enough until you type “the end” on a draft. But it’s never really over, is it? There’s revising, and editing, and marketing and building up your brand…
Stay focused, and carve out time for all of it. If you keep records of where your time goes and how you spent it, it’ll be easier to see when you should be writing and when you need an evening or a whole day off to let your beautiful brain rest. I use a spreadsheet and work around a weekday schedule where I have an easy-for-me minimum word count that I usually surpass and always feel good about. I mark time for “bonus sessions” that I can devote to other projects, editing, writing related emails…or just ignore if I’ve punched in 5,000+ words that day and need a nap.
A strict schedule isn’t for everyone, just like plotting a book start to finish before writing it isn’t for everyone. The advice “write every single day” can often be more harmful than helpful, and burn out is no joke.
There’s something to be said, though, for planning out your writing time around work or school or parenting or whatever. It’s almost a holy ritual for creators who need to make something from themselves, something no one else can make like you can. I don’t mean to romanticize a craft that is quite honestly tedious more often than it’s magnificent. Just as honestly, the moments where you breathe life into characters and scenes that become magnificent make all the tedious word tracking, outlining, and obscure research worth it.
I’m not a well-known author that has answers and a smile for everyone who writes because we share an occupation. Creating often makes me grumpy, distracted, and unwilling to communicate with others until I’ve shoved whatever scene I’ve been plotting into my latest work in progress. But the one thing I know for sure is that it’s better to keep going, and that moving forward is what gets a book finished.
About Catherine Labadie
Catherine Labadie lives in the mountains of the picturesque Carolinas with her husband and her dogs: a Scottish Terrier, a Whoodle, and a Great Dane. Slow Wanes the Night is her fourth novel. You can find her on Instagram at authorcatherinelabadie or at her website.