A funny thing happens whenever I make a plan to do something for myself. At the last minute, the phone rings, a friend is in crisis, or some other snippet of life jumps in my face and says, “Don’t you dare!”
You don’t have to be a writer to know what I’m talking about. If you’re a busy mom who just wants to soak in a long bath, you know how hard it is to carve out the time for yourself. And yet we must, in some shape or form, or we lose ourselves.
We matter. We must tell ourselves that. We must act as if we matter. Otherwise, no one else will take our dreams seriously.
The key for me is to not let these distractions derail my plans. This past weekend, I am happy to report, I succeeded.
My husband signed up for a conference in Seattle, so I rode along with him. I planned to write all weekend. If I stayed home, I reasoned, the garden would demand some of my time. Or, I’d be too tempted to head downtown or chat with friends.
At the last minute, as always, other forces vied for my time, but I held firm. I managed to settle everything Friday evening, and posted a notice on Facebook that I wasn’t available for the rest of the weekend.
I turned off the Internet. I shut off my phone.
It was 65 degrees and sunny, but I happily stayed in the room, even drawing the curtains closed to give me a greater element of privacy. I needed this. I needed it bad(ly).
I started a little after 8:00 a.m. I set a timer for 1 1/2 hours on my iPad, selecting a fun sound (wmah! buonissimo!) to let me know when my time was up. I worked away until the timer went off, then spent some time walking on a treadmill to take a mental break.
After my walk and a shower, I did round two, this time for 1 1/4 hours, which seems to be a sweet spot for me. I completed another round and walked to the restaurant for lunch. I had thought about ordering room service, but getting out for a bit felt appropriate. It’s good to give the brain some time to process anyway.
By the end of the day, I had completed five rounds of writing, two rounds of exercise, and some yoga late in the day to unwind. The next morning I snuck in one more round of writing. I worked through some plot problems and strengthened a subplot that has become important to the story. I ended up with a net gain of more than 7,000 words, and since part of my task was to cut parts that weren’t working, I’m pretty excited about that number.
With this amount of concentrated time, I felt more in the flow of the story. Most important, after working on fatigue issues, I was grateful to have the stamina to do this.
This draft won’t be the last one. There’s still a lot of work to be done. But I have a better, more complete story now, and more than anything, I’m proud to have taken the time and protected my dreams.