While this is Round 1 of 2012, it’s my fourth ROW80. I could share what I’ve learned about goal-setting, accountability, encouragement, etc.
Instead, I want to tell you what will get in your way. Because you are this writing challenge’s main character, you have a goal, and there will be conflict. Obstacles will interfere with your worthy desires. We all want that Happily Ever After, but you can’t simply wish away the antagonist. You must deal with him or IT.
Whether you solve these issues like a calculating detective or pound them into the ground like a ninja werewolf is up to you. Choose whatever character persona fits. But take note: One or more of the following may come your way this ROW80.
Fatigue. Most people are tired at some point in the day. That’s fine if you get sleepy a half hour before bedtime, but what about those days when you can barely raise your pinkie and it’s only 10:00 a.m.? Yet you must finish this scene in your WIP. If only your computer could dispense espresso into your mouth as you write.
Sometimes, you need a break to recharge; sometimes you need to write for a while and your energy will show up. If fatigue happens often, perhaps you need to adjust your sleeping schedule. But a friend of mine used to say, “I have SO MUCH to do, I want to take a nap.” The very thought of everything on your plate may cause a bit of fatigue; in which case, press on.
Stuff breaks. Your dishwasher spills soap and water all over kitchen, forcing you to stop writing that perfect climax, call a plumber, and mop for an hour. Your car makes a sound resembling a volcano monster, so you spend hours in an auto shop lobby with bad coffee and soap operas trying to figure out what you can hock to pay for repairs. Your internet – God forbid – goes out for half a day, and you end up on the phone all morning clicking through more levels than an Incan pyramid to reach a “customer service representative” to resolve the problem.
Things break. You can curse the universe, technology, and that one operator in the call center who put you on hold long enough to read War and Peace, OR you recognize that stuff happens, tackle the issue, and move on.
Illness. There isn’t much you can do on this front. We get exposed to a virus, and suddenly, we’re down for the count. I have read past ROW80 updates with news like “I have felt like death warmed over for 12 days and can’t write.” Just take care of yourself. Make healthy choices to fortify your immune system, and if you get sick, do what you can to start the healing process. You’ll be back in the saddle soon.
Recreation. Writing is work. It can be very engaging work. But at times, a trip to the mall, a night out, or watching TV present as more exciting activities. You think, I can spare a little time for fun. Next thing you know, your hour break has turned into a Lifetime movie marathon.
You must ask yourself, What is my top priority? I’m not saying don’t have fun. Do! Just make sure you’ve checked off a goal or two before heading out for a night of margaritas and karaoke.
Your family. It’s good that your family wants your attention. I had children with the idea that I would spend actual time with them. However, I’ve noticed that spouses, children, siblings, and even pets can sap your forward momentum. If you’re genuinely needed or you’ve been hiding with your laptop like a schizophrenic hermit, it makes sense for them to interrupt. Yet I warn my family at times: “I am doing a word sprint for the next 30 minutes. Do not come in unless you are (1) profusely bleeding, (2) projectile vomiting, or (3) attacked by aliens. Even then, wait to see if the aliens are friendly first.”
Treat writing like a job. Let those around you know that you are working, and you would like their cooperation in letting you finish your task. You can also state when you plan to emerge from the mystical writing cave, so they can present their list of demands then. (Of course, infants and toddlers often can’t wait; I feel for you young moms and dads.)
Plenty of other obstacles can prevent you from reaching the top of the mountain, planting your flag at the peak, and claiming victory – work obligations that take longer than expected, a traffic accident that clogs up the highway, or ever-growing piles of laundry that demand constant attention. Yet you can overcome.
You’re the main character. You’re not a quitter. You’re not a wimp. You have special characteristics and abilities that allow you to trump that antagonist and achieve your writing goals. You also have fellow ROW80ers rooting for your Happily Ever After.
As for me, I’m donning my Wonder Writer persona and polishing up my superpowers. This round, I am going to kick some butt.