Back in the Saddle

First, I just approved a comment from Anonymous. When I looked for it to respond, I couldn't find it. So if you're reading this ... Thanks! And I'll do my best.

Now to the regular post.

As much as I love 'em, I'm holidayed out.

Last night I slept for nine straight hours and feel refreshed for the first time in weeks. I have three items still left on my agenda for today. When those are done, I can move all my manuscript notes back to my desk.

Regrouping will be slashed from a few days to a few hours, but since I've been mentally regrouping since last week, I'm good with that. Tomorrow I begin the big push to the end of the first draft.

I'm excited.

So I want to talk about a couple of things.

One, transferring excitement to our writing.

While in a perfect world it should be excitement about the characters and story, sometimes that doesn't happen. Especially in the middle of the manuscript and it's raining outside and Gramma just called to find out why you haven't been to see her. Been there.

Psych yourself up about something. Maybe it's tiny ... the laundry's done, or your favorite TV show comes on that night, or you lost half a pound. Or maybe it's big ... all the kids got great report cards, or hubby's returning from a business trip or deployment, or it's your birthday. Or maybe you make up something - come on, we write fiction!

The trick is to get excited. The excitement you feel inside transfers to your writing. You might start thinking it's pretty dumb, but after a short time at the keyboard you'll see for yourself.

The second thing I want to talk about is goals and rewards.

We're all different, so I'm going to say what works for me. If you know this won't work for you, maybe it will give you an idea for something else you think might work.

I know some writers slow down near the end. The closer they get to the finish line, the slower they go.

When I near the end of a project, I push like a crazy person. The closer I get, the harder I push. By the last week, my live-in handyman almost has to pry me out of my chair for breaks.

I like to finish things. Leaving something undone means it has to go on a new list. I like marking things off. Besides, by the time I'm at the end of a manuscript, I'm wanting to see if the characters end it the way I'd planned.

My goal for finishing this one was by Thanksgiving - so it could rest over the holidays before I tackled the editing process. If I'd been closer, I would've pushed harder, but I'm a good 20,000 words away.

Didn't happen.

Life intervened way too often.

I beat myself up if it's my own fault I don't meet a goal. But when I can't write because family or friends need help or because of emergencies of some sort, I live with it. Those things are out of my control.

I'm a control freak about myself, but not with others.

So my new goal is to finish by January 31.

And just in case I feel like goofing off, I have a reward.

A massage. And one I don't have to pay for. I received a gift certificate for one for Christmas. While I could use it now, I'll need it even more when I finish.

So that's what works for me. A strong desire to finish, a definite deadline, and a reward.

Find what works for you.

You may need to experiment, but keep trying. You'll find it.


Mason Canyon said…
I like the idea of a reward waiting at the end of your goal. That would help push me to go done. I'll have to work that in with my list of things I need done. Thanks for the idea.
Elspeth Futcher said…
I've also set my goal for my present manuscript: end of February. However, I hadn't thought of a reward, so I thank you for putting that notion into my brain. What to pick...what to pick...

Helen Ginger said…
I think your idea of a reward to push toward is the best, for me, anyway.

Straight From Hel
Carol Kilgore said…
A new club for writers:
Rewards R Us!
Like you, when I'm near the end of a draft, I just want to finish it. I think I will try dangling a reward in front of me for finishing my current WIP. A massage sounds great, but I have a really long way to go.
Conda Douglas said…
Carol, I like the idea of setting an intention. For me, it helps steer away from the guilt of not reaching a goal while still working on achieving progress.
I'm always a little sad near the end of the MS. I've become friends with the characters and shared lots of time and invested no small amount of emotional energy in them. So, I hate to see them go. I think that's why I slow down. Though I know I'll see them all again for 10,000 revisions.

Best Regards, Galen.

Imagineering Fiction Blog
Carol Kilgore said…
Jane - Rewards are great motivators.

Conda - Hope it works for you.

Galen - I don't have that problem at the end of first draft. Somewhere in the middle drafts I do. And by the final one, my characters are usually as tired of me as I am of them.
There are several of us getting close to finishing a first draft -- just think how wonderful it's going to feel when we jump up and do our happy dance around the room. I was hoping for Dec. 31, but my movable deadline is now sitting on Jan. 20th. I know I can, I know I can...
Laura Eno said…
Rewards R Us! I like that, Carol. If I don't push through to the end, I'll abandon it. I hadn't thought of a reward though. That's a great idea!
We deserve little rewards, don't we? Even something small...but it's a recognition that we've done something important!

Mystery Writing is Murder
Carol Kilgore said…
Patricia - Yes you can! Now get writing - January 20 will be here lickety split.

Laura - Decide on something in advance. Maybe for hitting daily goals you get to play one game of solitaire, but for completing a project you get an hour alone with bubble bath, candles, and soft music.

Elizabeth - Exactly!