For the record, I did take the writing challenge, Alison Gresik’s Hours for Art Pledge. It’s pretty modest, I think: for the next month, four days out of each week, I’m going to plonk my butt into my Laz-E-Boy recliner, pull my Macbook onto my lap, and write fiction for an hour. If it’s going well, I’ll let it expand into an hour and a half.
FOUR DAYS? WHY NOT SEVEN?
Some days I go to work early. Some days I’ll have intractable deadlines for other assignments. Some days I’ll be shampooing the carpet because the old dog had a bout of diarrhea. (That day will be today, in fact. Happy Easter/Eoestre to you too.)
Four days is more than half the week. Three days seemed more realistic, but I decided it was worth pushing myself to four to take my plan seriously.
JUST AN HOUR?
Because I’m continuing to do my 168 Hours Program — or rather, my takeaway from it, my timelogging and prioritizing — I know my schedule is relatively lean when I follow it carefully.
Time for writing has been part of my “freelance time” budget. But formal art assignments, editing assignments, and non-fiction writing have to come first. I also work on this website and write this blog; more freelance time.
It’s all very well to say “writers write” but when? I hadn’t been able to make fiction a priority for months.
About a week ago, I’d realized that, if the very first thing I did in the morning was sit down with my coffee in front of the computer, still half asleep, then it was a toss-up whether I would “follow the plan carefully.”
It was stupidly easy to get sucked into email, social media, reading blogs, and suddenly 10am would roll around. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I hadn’t fed the dogs. And my prime worktime — early morning — was gone. Instant stress.
It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened too often. Therefore, I had already decided to stop turning on my “work” computer first thing in the morning. Email could wait until I was caffeinated and clear-headed enough to make sensible choices about “Do I tend to this now or later? Or ever?” There are dogs to be played with. Flowers to pick. Sinks to empty. Thoughts to think. Stuff that wasn’t on my monitor.
I believe I can do those things and write too. I’ll lose a little connectivity, a little news that I’d find interesting, but I’ll still move into my regular freelancing schedule well before 10am.
I can’t justifying giving fiction more time than that. I have enough trouble getting my regular freelance tasks done in my alotted time, so I’m not going to start stealing time from those hours. I’m willing to limit the time spent drinking from the firehose of cool stuff on the net.
AREN’T YOU JUST CHANGING ONE COMPUTER FOR THE OTHER?
Potentially. However, it’s really easy to turn off the wifi on the laptop. (That was cheaper than buying another Freedom license. D’oh!) My fiction doesn’t usually require me to look up stuff the way I need to when writing articles or blogposts. Offline, I cannot succumb to the siren song of the net.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU REALLY DO IN JUST A MONTH?
Four weeks x four days x one hour = 16 hours of writing. I’ll get 24 hours if I max out my time. I’m still finding my way into the project I’m targetting: a new world, new characters. Even 16 hours will show me if it’s got legs.
That said, I am not going to forcefeed myself that project if something else begs to be written. Flash fiction, short stories, even a return to my fanfic playground will be okay, although I really want to use this time to test myself and stretch. As long as it’s fiction, I will accept any writing.
I have a time addendum to the writing challenge. I said I’d do it “for a month,” which tests the waters. If I find I’m not actually accomplishing what I want, or if it increases my stress levels more than it alleviates the itch to write, I’ll table the idea. I want to give it a decent chance to take hold, and a month is a good start. I’ll reassess on May 20th.
However, at the end of the month, if I find it is working for me, then I’m going to formally commit to doing it for another 10 weeks.
Why 10 weeks? People talk about things taking 100 days to form or change a habit. Monica Valentinelli (whom I’ve mentioned before) mentioned it recently, which put the concept back on my radar. Ten weeks, plus the four of the initial month, is about 100 days. If this works, it’ll wrap up neatly around the end of July.
That’s getting ahead of myself. First I have to make it to May 20th with 16 hours of writing under my belt. I’ll keep you apprised.