How can we best work our projects?
Moderation is key.
I thrive on challenges. But if I make my list of things I want to accomplish too ambitious, I can wind up scratching them, at least some of them.
Let’s face it, we have to live. We need a life. Writing is important to you, I’m sure. It is to me. But writing isn’t everything. We need variety. We need other people—even the decidedly introverted among us, and I’m one of them. Some of my most deeply moving times in this life involve people.
Writing is an achievement. When I write well, it makes me feel good, no doubt about it. But for me, being a dad and a grandfather, being there for friends, and yes contributing to their lives and potentially the lives of others are where life is at—at its deepest level, a life well-lived.
I want to do a lot in 2012.
I tend to be a workaholic. In a way that’s good because I can get a lot done. But if I go overboard, I wind up on a treadmill or in a sweatshop and burn out. I’m also a fairly accomplished procrastinator. I can take too many breaks getting the latest bad news on CNN or do next what is easy rather than needed.
But, on the other hand, I need my writing plans to be challenging enough to motivate me.
So what are my suggestions for you and me?
- Avoid marathon writing–unless you’re working on an important deadline. That’s an invitation to burnout.
- Work at your projects daily. Either have one super important project and focus on it, or work on each major goal pretty-much daily. I would rather make progress on my novel, my two ebooks in-progress, and my blogs at least several times a week than set aside any of them for too long.
- Schedule your writing “appointments with yourself” so that your progress is steady (remember the tortoise and the hare?). Variety is workable. A schedule is a firm but gentle way to motivate yourself.
- Take frequent breaks. Do something different from writing. Give your mind and fingers and wrists a rest. Just don’t let those breaks linger too long.
- Drink water every two hours or so. A couple days ago I read a convincing post on what water can do for you, in terms of feeling good, energy and overall health. The article advised drinking a glass of water at one go, not just setting in on your desk and sipping occasionally. Interested? Here’s a couple key links:
- Get some exercise daily. Not three-hour runs or walks, but brief sessions. Five minutes or so, especially to begin with. Body weight work is fine. Like push ups, squats, lunges, going up and down stairs a couple or three times, a brief walk.
None of us wants to be away from our writing every day for long periods. But several small breaks a day can help to re-invigorate the mind.
- If you’re one of those (like me) who likes to track your daily tasks, setup a list in your spreadsheet or use a to-do list manager and record away. I’ve kept a journal for years, mostly handwritten, but recently downloaded The Journal…
http://www.davidrm.com/thejournal/ A whole program devoted to journal writing with lots of nifty features, even writing prompts. For me a fun, free-writing break. (Also a bit of procrastination at times!)
- If you do like To-Do lists, one of the easiest to learn but powerful and affordable is Swift TO-DO List. Or if you don’t think you need the pro version, download the Daily To-Do List at nearly half the price…
http://www.dextronet.com/ The Daily To-Do List is in the software section. I used if for several years before graduating to the pro software.
- Above all write a lot. Be persistent, determined, and patient. Increase your fluency on the page. Some days it just won’t go well. Other days it will go supremely well. Hang in there!
And best wishes for the new year!