Writing in Turbulent Times
It might be easy to think that it’s hard to write in the midst of turbulent times. The world is in turmoil with politics, wars, natural disasters, cancel culture, inflation, and everyone fighting on all sides for the things they think are important. There are so many things going on all around us that can make it easy to take our eyes off what’s truly important to each of us: family, health and wellbeing, friends, and safety.
I like to think that our passions of writing and running are included as part of our wellbeing. But when times get turbulent, how do we keep our focus on the things that matter so we can stay productive? Rest. Rest can actually increase your productivity.
Ever had the flu? Most of us have. I remember the last time I had the flu. My body ached. I had cold chills and a high fever. I had congestion in my head and chest, my nose ran, and all I wanted to do was curl up in the bed and sleep. Like all day. I had no appetite. I thought about medicine and trying to get comfortable. I was like that for three whole days! But when I felt better, my mind went back to my to-do list and I actually had more energy to work on it and get things done. Rest is what rejuvenated me. I became more productive.
You’ve turned into an unproductive writer. You’ve been working on your novel for at least a year, but you still haven’t finished it yet. You’ve paused your writing for at least 3 months, but no new ideas have come to you. You’ve finished the first draft, but you have no idea how to revise it. You’ve been writing weekly for at least 6 months, but it feels sporadic and like you’re not gaining any traction. If any of these apply to you, then you’re probably stuck in the Unrested Writer Plateau. And if you’re experiencing any of these problems, then you’re likely making one of the following mistakes.
How to Finish Writing Your Novel
Writing a novel isn’t easy, but the first draft is for you. You know it doesn’t have to be perfect, so why does it feel so hard to finish your manuscript? You just spent a long day at work and the last thing you want to do when you get home is to keep using your brain and think of clever things to write in your novel.
You could get up early every morning and write for an hour, or 20 minutes. A lot of writers do this. But then when will you run? You relish your morning runs! You just want to finish your manuscript. You’ve already gotten seven chapters written – or 18… Where did the momentum go? Why do you feel stuck and unmotivated? Is it writer’s block?
The best way to finish your manuscript is to think about training for a race. When I ran my first 5k, the only training I had done was in my college jogging class. Race day came and people were walking faster than I was jogging! So a year later, with no other races under my belt, I wanted to run a marathon. You can call me crazy. It’s okay.
But this time, I was running with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Coach Scott created a training plan for everyone. Every Saturday, we ran on the Mountains-to-Sea trails to prep for our big marathon in Anchorage, Alaska. My first 4-mile training run was torture. It was the longest distance I had ever run before. But I finished. And I celebrated every small victory. Before long, I thought a 12-miler was easy. When race day came, I was ready. I ran (and walked) the whole race. It didn’t matter how long it took me – because I finished. That was my goal. To finish the race (or my manuscript).
I don’t want to see your half-finished novel shoved into a drawer never to be seen again. I don’t want you to feel like a failure. Giving up on your writing dreams is not an option. Your novel deserves to see the light of day. Imagine seeing your book on bookstore shelves, signing copies for your most loyal fans, and receiving emails about how much your readers loved your story. In order to get there, you have to finish your manuscript. Here are three ways to do that.
Schedule Your Writing Time
When I was training for my Alaska marathon, Saturdays were reserved for long runs. I ran 2-3 other days during the week, usually between 2-5 miles. You need to schedule your writing time like you would schedule your long runs.
There are two weekend writing conferences that I love to attend every year. The first is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in August or September for the Carolinas chapter. The second is the Georgia Romance Writers in October. But one year, I didn’t get to go to either one of them.
Nothing bad had happened like a death in the family or Covid or loss of a job. But when the time came to go, I couldn’t. Why not? Because I never registered! What? Why wouldn’t I register if I love going to these conferences?
Well… when registration opened up, I procrastinated. I thought I’d register in a couple weeks. Then a couple months. Then when there was only one month left until each event, I still thought I would register, but the real reason I never got to go is because I didn’t properly plan financially for my writing obsession. So I came up with a plan to make sure that didn’t happen again.
If you missed out on going to that conference or writing retreat you’ve had your eye on for so long because you didn’t have the money, here are 5 ways to fund your writing obsessions. Because let’s face it, we all want to become better writers and attending conferences and retreats is one of the best ways to improve our craft.
1. Save Up Your Money
Start saving your funds early. Calculate the cost of the event you want to attend and divide it by the number of months to save up and “tithe” to your writing fund. For example, if you’re wanting to attend a writing retreat that costs $2,525, if you save up just over $200 a month for a year, you’ll have the money to go!
Since 2010, I have been blogging over at www.christiewrightwild.blogspot.com. It started out as a personal journal for my writing. It has morphed several times over the years focusing on different things such as picture books, websites for authors, and of course my own publication journey.
It's time for Writers Who Run to get its own blog. So here we are! Every Monday, a new blog post will be published. Topics will always be focused on our four pillars for content.
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Christie Wright Wild
Founder, Writers Who Run
Creator, Plot Like a Novelist
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