Tuesday 11th July 2017
One of the outcomes from Leggedon was the need to be super organised. I needed to take all manners of medication, ensure the leg got exercise, monitor and manage my food and a million other things. On top of this, I had a broken novel that needed fixing, and so I used the opportunity to include getting organised about my writing.
Getting organised meant that I was able to cram a lot into the day. I used a business process called GTD to organise myself, triaging my ToDo list so that the important things got done and the little things didn’t get forgotten.
The trick to achieving any long term project is repetition. You want to get fit, you exercise every day. You want to write a book, you write every day. And so I used GTD to ensure I did the repetitive tasks whilst ensuring everything else got done as well.
Over time, efficiency has meant that I have become very busy. I utilise my time well and whilst I complain that I waste time, the fact that I’ve got into habits with a lot of major stuff means that the important stuff always moves forward, if only slowly.
The downside is that I’m always playing for the long term and it can get frustrating because slow progress is often hard to see – both for myself and for others.
When things are going well, I use GTD less. When I’m struggling a bit, I rely on it more.
The downside to the last week is that it’s completely wiped me. Other than set appointments (like training times) my schedule has been terrible. I’ve not edited a lot, I’ve not done a great job of micro-managing my diet, tasks I need to get done, stay undone. Heck, I’ve even had problems getting editions of The Climb out on time.
Things will always come along that throw you off your proverbial horse. As frustrating as they can be, the trick is to be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up for not getting any writing done is easy to do when it’s a major focus, but equally, wasting time getting stressed over things you have no control over isn’t going to resolve the issue.
Getting back on that horse can be difficult as well. If your day is comprised of hundreds of different little tasks, it can sometimes take days.
And so, I’ve tried not to worry too much that I haven’t got loads of editing done the last few days. Instead, I’ve been working towards getting editions of The Climb back on schedule, on regaining my focus.
I did get a bit of editing done last night. Not a huge amount, but I did get past a bit that had really been holding me up and onto an easy chapter. That still needed a bit of editing and it’s easy to skip over errors because you think there are no improvements to be made on the really good chapters.
I had some more beta comments back on my early chapters. I still need to digest it all (different people suggest different and sometimes conflicting things, making the trick to find the uniformity in it all) but I think I’ve addressed my concerns – and introduced some new ones! That’s fine. That’s why you send things to beta readers.
Whenever I get a crit back I always go over the cover letter first. This usually describes the high level issues (they loved it, they hated it, they see these general problems with it). This is always the gut punch for me.
Taking criticism is always difficult but it’s a necessary stage and so I always let myself get winded by the cover letter. I’ll read it, and then let it absorb over a day or so before going heavily back in to the comments and picking them apart. Giving myself a few days between the initial reaction and diving in means I’m much more willing to really pick apart the issues they are raising.
There’s always a danger of being defensive when someone criticises a piece of writing. On a logical level, that’s crazy. You’ve asked someone to look at it and pull it apart, and now you’re trying to argue they are somehow wrong? It’s too easy to excuse it away as personal taste.
So I always ask a couple of people on things I’m not sure about. I remind myself that the reason I’ve asked people is because my gut is telling me something isn’t quite right. Responses usually confirm that and also give you an idea of where the issue lay. And sometimes that’s not where the beta reader thinks it is.
But by reading the high level and then leaving it a day or so, I find any emotional defense has disappeared and I can focus more on the why a reader felt this way, rather than feeling a need to prove the reader wrong.
Just like today, the trick is to not beat yourself up and slowly get back on that horse. Writing isn’t about never being knocked down it’s about being able to get up, take the time to brush yourself back down, and carry on.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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