Meet season is starting, so a large part of my time over the next few months will be spent sitting on the bench watching my amazing son do what he loves the most: gymnastics.
This morning, I woke up overwhelmed by all I had to do and the crazy-busy travel schedule of meet season. I hate that overwhelming feeling, especially at the new year. I like to go into a new year thinking about the possibilities and aiming for achieving my resolutions. I don’t like defeating myself with negative thinking before I even start. But the truth is, I lead an extremely busy life, and if I don’t focus on how to achieve my writing goals then I won’t achieve them. It’s as simple as that.
F – Follow-Through – Perhaps this is the hardest part for me. My main resolution is to finish revisions on Little Birdhouses. The actual novel has been written for about year now. I’ve revised it about seven times, but I know I still have work to do. It’s just hard, and unfortunately I let that sneaky little bitch, self-doubt, creep into my mind. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Will I ever be able to write full-time or will my life continue to be this monotony of early mornings, too much coffee, and complete exhaustion by 8:30 PM? All these questions crop up, and instead of following through I have the tendency to give up. But I need to focus and finish the work, and so I’m going to work on my follow-through. I’m going to schedule my editing and revisions time and stick to it no matter what.
O – Organization – I toyed with making “O” obsessive, because I think you do have to be a little obsessive as a writer. I have an obsessive personality–anyone who knows me would tell you that. You have to become obsessed with your characters, with the idea of writing, the idea of finishing. But perhaps the thing I struggle with most in my life, organization, is the real part of FOCUS that I lack right now. If you’ve ever seen my bedroom you know I have an organizational problem. I get overwhelmed with clutter and stuff, and everything, and then I have no idea where to start. This same thing can happen with writing, because sometimes there are too many ideas, too many directions our characters want to take us, and since I don’t outline (or I only roughly outline inside my head) it can be a real problem for me. This year, I’m going to organize my time. I’m going to do rough-outlines for my work to give me a direction that I can deviate from if I want to, but that will help me organize my work to be able to follow-through, finish up, and succeed.
C – Creativity – Of course! I don’t lack in creativity. In fact, sometimes I think it gets in the way of my focus. When I’m running, my mind blurred out on the buildings or trees ahead, story reels tend to stream endlessly in my head. Often, I don’t remember them, but sometimes they sit there biding me to write them. If I had all the time in the world to write then maybe I could be prolific like Stephen King. But I don’t. I need direction for my creativity. Sometimes I feel a little ADHD, because I start something only to have a better idea arise. Only the idea usually isn’t better. It’s just new, and the beginning part of writing is always the easiest. It’s the crap-part in the middle that’s hard. That’s the part where writers want to give up and think their work is shit. But if they keep going they can paint something beautiful. It’s just getting past that little bugger I mentioned before, self-doubt, that allows creativity to really do its job.
U – Understanding – I think this is very important. I took a month long break in December. I inherently understood that I needed it. I was feeling burnt out. I needed to be with my family. And that’s okay. If you understand yourself and your needs then it makes the ability to focus on the task at hand more manageable. Plus, it allows you to understand your characters, and therefore when you write them they’re going to feel more real, more three-dimensional, like actual living and breathing human beings. (Sometimes I feel like my characters live with me while I’m writing them, and if this doesn’t add to focus then I don’t know what does).
S – Success – With focus come success. I think success is an important factor, and it help writers to keep writing. What do I mean by success? It’s not the idea of making millions of dollars on writing. To me, success is when someone calls me up and says, “Your writing spoke to me.” “I felt so sad for Will.” “I, unfortunately, could relate to his situation.” “Your dialogue is amazing and feels so real.” “You have a way with words.” It’s being understood. It’s writing words on paper, coming from my own mind, that resonate with other people. It’s spreading the common human experience and hoping someone else who is also seeking answers in their lives might get a little something from it It’s a shared part of this crazy human existence — a shared understanding — a shared emotion. The key to success in writing is for readers to understand what the author is trying to say. Maybe just one reader. Maybe a thousand readers, but readers. What’s the point of writing if no one is going to read your book?
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