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This is one of the few guest blogs I’ve done in a while. Even my own blog is quieter than usual. I’m usually posting at least one interview a week and blogging three to five times a week between my blog and the group blogs I take part in. I fulfill my group blog obligations, but other than the occasional interview to help promote a friend’s recent release, the only thing on my blog right now are progress reports where I vent and share discoveries I’ve made about my writing process.

I’m on lockdown.

I’m minimizing everything else to maximize writing time. Because if you are a writer, writing is your number one job. The past two years I had books come out and I threw a lot of energy into promoting them. I had to do that, too, it was part of my job, but the number one job took a backseat and it can’t any more because if I ever want to publish another book, I have to write it.

I’ve frittered a lot of time a way by blogging, reading blogs, checking twitter and facebook and my email box. I’m awesome at procrastinating. We all probably are. I’m also terrible at saying no to things, but I’ve been trying to because writing the book is the number one important thing.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time at my mom’s house. She doesn’t have internet, so it’s the perfect place for me to hide out and write. I work the job that pays the bills at night, so I maximize my writing time during the day as much as possible. I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily have the energy to write 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, but I make sure to block out 5 to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Blog entries, email, writerly business, housecleaning, errands those things are done on the two days I have off from writing or done after I’ve met my goals for the day.

I’ve tried setting a variety of different goals: word count, page count, hours of butt-in-chair. But what truly works best for me is set a personal deadline and then break down which scenes I need to write on which days to reach that goal. Sometimes the personal deadline has to be adjusted for what I am actually capable of doing. For example, I was trying to write a chapter a day and burnt out quickly. I readjusted my deadline to write a chapter every two days. This roughly comes out to around 2,000 words a day. I know I’m freshest when I first sit down so I try to pound out that first thousand before I stop for lunch. I give myself all the necessary permissions like this is a first draft, it’s allowed to be crappy, but I try to let myself get lost in the story and enjoy it as well. Sometimes I reach my goal in a couple hours. If I have the energy, I keep going. If I pushed really hard and am tired, I stop. I’ve completed my mission for the day. But I don’t let myself out of lockdown until after I’ve completed that day’s mission.

So come up with your mission, the schedule that best suits your muse and your life, and find a way to banish those distractions. Put yourself on lockdown and write. It is your number one job.

Stephanie Kuehnert is the author of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE and BALLADS OF SUBURBIA as well as a bartender, newspaper columnist, and teacher. She’s married with three cats but doesn’t have much of a life right now. You can find her venting about whether or not she met her daily goal (as well as other things) on Twitter and Facebook. Her ongoing journey to finish a third book is being documented (when she has time) on blogger blogger and livejournal and her website.

Monday means another inspiring entry over at annemariewrites and then come back on Tuesday for our last Complete Your Challenge Author Advice post from KC Dyer, author of A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW about writing epic fantasy.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Kip Rechea
Sep. 26th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
What great advice! Logging off now ...

kiperoo from the BB
Oct. 3rd, 2010 04:47 am (UTC)
Yes, these are the reminders I need. I'm about to start a new project and since I KNOW how much discipline it'll take, I'm sort of enjoying online time until entering, as was so aptly put, "lockdown."
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )