Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

As I have probably mentioned before, I have written/contributed to two network engineering books. One was published two days after 9/11 and the other was published the following October. Since then, my technical writing talents have only been used on the job site to write PR material or SOPs or user manuals. Boring but it pays well.

Now I have created another writing opportunity for myself: a series of books based on the software I work on for my employer. Thus, I'm working with one of the muckety-mucks to create the book proposal. I present the latest iteration of the proposal; he tears it apart. You know the drill. I feel like I've gotten nowhere in 6 months.

There's a bigger problem, though -- Me! I know that deep down, my heart isn't in this. I'd rather be writing on my own projects, but am I doing that? Not so much. I'm distracted, tired, and scattered instead of focused, motivated, and joyful about writing. Now I'm even conflicted about going to grad school. Even though I found the perfect online MFA/Creative Writing program, I'm conflicted. I have very little time now. What makes me think I have the discipline to buckle down again for another 3 years or so of school? I think that once I got started, I would love it, but the problem is getting started.

I actually tried to sit down last night and work on some more of the outlines for the books in the proposal. I allowed myself to get sidetracked as I was doing my research. I read a few blogs, responded to some comments. Eventually I signed on to my machine at the office and did a couple of hours of work on a special project I have going. I told myself that if I didn't do that, I wouldn't be finished by COB Thursday. The entire evening - gone. My outline consisted of 4 new major bullet points (with some sub-bullets).


I really wanted to throw it all out the window and write a poem. I wanted to write a couple of pages on my novel. I worry that I will always be a person of great starts and no finishes. This has got to stop.

So today, I'm making a resolution. I have to sit down for an hour each night to work on my own personal writing. At least an hour. If it goes beyond that, great? And then I can devote some time to the book proposal. Yes, it will be hard and will take time away from other things I want to be doing (watching TV, reading new blogs), but writing requires discipline.

When I was writing the engineering books, I would lock myself into my library each evening after dinner and would just work. I cranked the first book out in 8 months. After that I started college and wrote my 3-chapter contribution to the second book during my first semester of college. It took me 5 years, but I completed my degree. I wrote the first books while the kids were both still in school. I have far more time now, but urgh! I can't seem to kick myself in the butt enough to get going.

Discipline. I've got to find it within myself again. And I've got to put my nose to the grindstone. It's important for my family's bottom line for me to do this book series (could pay off student loans) and it's important for me to prove that yes, I can still do this thing called writing.

And now I'm off to earn my keep at work. Peace - D


Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

I'm finding that to be true about everything in my life, not just writing for my blog, but also the other things I like to do (scrapbooking and such). At least one hour a day or it's never going to get done. Good for you hon for sticking with it and making a resolution to do what you want to do! :)

tysdaddy said...

Good luck with all your projects. As you say, this project at work will pay the bills. As for your other writing, just knuckle down and use the time as an escape. And enjoy it . . .

Daryl said...

I think your plan to set aside an hour to work on your 'stuff' is an excellent way to begin .. small steps ...


Don Mills Diva said...

I think even the work writing is good. I have found that any kind of writing is good for me really - even technical writing - it relaly is a skill and it makes you better all around...

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Interesting post. I do a lot of technical writing (PeopleSoft and proprietary software manuals/guides/training materials) and a little creative. I really like how doing one helps to make me better at the other.

Good luck in carving out that time, and good for you in getting to it!

MamaGeek said...

Good luck with the projects and a big KUDOS to you for getting IN! Woot!

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Go for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RiverPoet said...

CMGD - Girl, I did it! I sat down and wrote nearly a thousand words tonight! The real key is putting the butt in the seat and working.

tyedaddy - Indeed. It truly is an escape. I put on some Coldplay tonight and just wrote!

Daryl - Thanks, and I hope that Ally is feeling better tonight. I really feel for your sister...

DMD - And we do love your writing, girl!

BBM - What amazes me is when I hear of someone who has written books while raising children. How is that done, exactly?? I did sit my butt down and write tonight, though. YAY!

Mamageek - Thanks! It will happen when I make it happen. Being busy is good, right??

Peace - D

Dave Baldwin said...

Hi RiverPoet,

I try to set aside seven hours each week for exercise and a minimum of 10 hours each week for a combination of non-work-related writing AND goofing off. For example, I never try to write poetry until I win a game of computer solitare first. Making a conscious effort to waste time is a big part of my routine. It enables me to freewheel my thoughts. It gets my creative juices going. I highly recommend it!

Your time is yours, and no one else's. If you want to goof off, that's your business. (Some people consider writing poetry as goofing off.) Whatever you do, don't put yourself in a spot where you say, "I have to write. I have to write!"

Jo said...

I think with anything, we have to take the small steps necessary to create a longer habit. So one hour a day is a fabulous idea. But you know, it's summer and people are less disciplined in summer. Perhaps it is the time to write your poems, and once Labor Day rolls around, get back to the more disciplined stuff.

I have a new blog. I had to delete my old one because it was being monitored by a family member, and it started to creep me out. Here is the new link.



Not Afraid to Use It said...

An hour a day is the least you deserve. Good for you for doing that. I need to follow your lead.

RiverPoet said...

Dave - I love that idea! Maybe I'll take up a game first to get me into the whole quiet place so I can write. Thanks for commenting!

Josie - Love the new blog, and you can probably figure out why I work so hard to keep certain people off of mine. There would be weeping and gnashing of teeth if that person had any clue as to where to find me.

NATUI - I missed last night, but that was to be expected. Couldn't even work. I'm looking forward to getting back to my characters tonight, though, to see what they are up to!

Peace - D