I didn’t write last week…

…Except, I did.

When I’m working on a novel or similarly lengthy project, I set myself a target. It used to be 1,000 words a night back when I had one job and a stable lifestyle. I didn’t always meet it, but I did get some writing done every day, no matter how little.

With my current lifestyle, where I work three jobs and don’t have my own space, I set myself a different target; to write four chapters a week. I rarely meet it but usually I can get three done a week without too much trouble.

This week, I didn’t write a single word.

Except, I did.

I write five days a week in my current job. So, in reality, I actually wrote a lot. Writing I have to do to get paid. I need that money to live and continue my travels later one.

But, when it comes to my own project, I wrote nothing.

Instead, I worked my second job on four of those days and nights, after my main job (which is a 9-5). Again, there are benefits to this, but I didn’t write anything.

And I feel guilty.

I’m close to finishing the first draft of this project, and my goal is to get it done this month. That should still be doable, I hope. Not writing for a week is just going to mean I have to do more in a shorter time.

This is what I want for my future, and I feel bad that I’ve been so lax. I can’t even say I did anything exciting or had a good time. Don’t get me wrong, the people I work with in my second job are great but it’s not the same. I have no stories to tell, no pictures to show and no writing to mark that passage of time.

I didn’t write last week.

I feel guilty every time I let an opportunity pass me by. Sometimes I am too busy, others I know I’m not in the right frame of mind to do so. I still feel guilty. I’m trying to change that, to accept the decisions I make in my life, for whatever reason, are the best they can be in that moment. Maybe things would be different if I took those chances, but maybe not. There’s no way to know for sure.

I’m getting better. This has become a bit of a mantra for me, one I wanted to share. It’s okay that, as a writer, there are times I don’t write. It’s okay there are others I do. It’s okay to enjoy other things or prioritise other parts of my life.

I’m not there yet, but I’m improving every day. Every week.

I did no writing last week, except, I did. Then again, I also didn’t.

And that’s okay.

Keeping myself motivated

It can be hard writing all the time when things are so unstable. I know some people who love that uncertainty, and to a point I do, too. However, I do like a little stability. I like to know I’ve got a job or can get one. I like to know I’ve got money to keep a roof over me and food on my plate. There have been times during this adventure when those things haven’t been so certain and it’s then I find it hard to sit down and write.

I spend too much time thinking about things that aren’t writing. Life problems, you might say, in a sense.

Of course, everything is a wave. There are highs and lows. Now that I’m on a rise, I can think clearly and put everything in perspective.

Sure, I can write a blog post or a short story at random times but for a larger project, like the novel I’m working on now, I like a bit of a stability. Which leads me to…

Getting into a routine

One thing I learned at university was a routine. If I could write at roughly the same time of day (or night) each day then it’d be easier for me to get into the flow and get more done. That has worked for me in the past, but I do like having a set space to work from, which isn’t easy when travelling.

When you get regular hours at a job, then it becomes easier to get that routine going. It might be worth writing at the same time even if those times vary through the week. It’s training your mind to know when it’s time to be creative and work, and that 9-5 mentality is exactly the same.

Seeing other people’s success

This is a double-edged sword but when you see friends and colleagues doing well, you feel happy and want to support them however you can.

Then comes the jealousy.

It’s not that they’re better than you, but they have something of market value then. That just means you have to think about your ideas and what’s out there now. It also means you need to keep trying. Don’t compare their journey to your own, just focus on doing what you do best and do it well. One day, it’ll come to you.

Yes, I’m also telling myself that. We all need to hear it at times.

The occasional pep talk

I’m grateful for the friends I’ve got who keep me going when things look hopeless. A lot of these are writers in similar situations to myself, and I’m more than happy to return the favour. We’re all still young in the grand scheme of things and it’s nice to get a little bit of encouragement amongst all the rejection we get from publishers and agents.

The same rings true for life in general, and those uplifting feelings can transfer to other areas when we need them most. If you know a creative and they’re a bit down, give them some encouragement and offer some criticism to help. You might not be an expert, but you can appreciate it. Let them explain some of their craft to you, let them feel like their skills and knowledge is valuable.

Again, the same is true in life. Look out for people who could use a little lift. Good things can be passed on really easily.

Looking back to how far I’ve come

It may sound a little cliché but it’s great to look back at where I’ve come from – in terms of my journey as a writer. I look back at the projects I’ve completed and remember thinking that I’d never be able to finish it.

These aren’t masterpieces by any means but compared to my writing now, I can see how I’ve changed, how my style has grown, and it makes me proud. I look forward to pushing on and seeing where I’ll be in the future.

Of course, hopefully that involve a published book or two (or ten, maybe more) but the more I travel, the more I learn about myself and there are always things to do and learn. Maybe it’s not what’ll happen but until I know for sure, I’m going to keep trying.

You should, too, whatever your goals may be.

Why I have multiple projects on the go at once

We’re all different, and we do things differently as a result.

That’s great, as variety keeps life interesting. Another way to keep things interesting is to have more than one project on the go at once. Now, I’m talking about writing here, specifically, but it’s advice that can apply to many aspects of our lives.

It’s not for everyone; I know plenty of writers – and people – who prefer to focus on one thing at a time and get it out the way before moving onto the next. That’s absolutely fine but I’ve found it can make things a little…monotonous.

That’s why I mix things up a bit from time to time.

The benefits of switching projects

I’ll be honest here, staving off boredom is sometimes a challenge for me. I write longer pieces of fiction most of the time, and novels feature a big part of that. However, there’s blog posts, freelance work and short stories to do, too.

Balancing all of these projects can be tricky but if I waited until the last one was finished, I’d never do anything else for a year or more (leaning more to the more here, especially as I’m travelling and working, too).

There are also times when I find myself stuck. Call it writer’s block, call it boredom, call it whatever you like – I need to do something different to take my mind off what’s stopping me.

Now, if it’s a problem I’m trying to work out, writing something different can sometimes reveal the solution. Sometimes, it’s just good to finish something – or a draft of something – to add some extra motivation.

However, it’s not as simple as just switching from project to project on the fly.

The downside to doing so

Going back and forth between projects, while refreshing, does make it much easier to lose your flow and get confused. Details from each story might cross over inadvertently or plotlines might merge and confuse the reader.

It also means each project will take longer to complete. The difficulty here is deadlines.

Even if they’re self-imposed, deadlines are important. It’s goal and lets you manage your time – and this goes beyond your writing. It’s okay to respect that things change, and life can get in the way, but if you set a deadline, it’s important to try and meet it.

That said, if, like me, you like switching projects, you’ll need to accommodate for this in your deadlines. Don’t make them to short or you’ll get stressed.

That’s not good for anything.

How I cope with changing over

The biggest tip I have is to plan ahead.

There are times when I feel like I spend more time planning my projects than I do writing them (and even editing, as hard as that is to believe).

Not only does this help with the writing itself, but it means every time I switch from one project to another, my plans and notes are so comprehensive that I know exactly where I’m at and what I need to do next.

Now, my plans and ideas can change during writing. That’s okay and its part of the editing process to make sure it all fits together neatly in the end. It’s why no one ever gets to read my first drafts – they’re far too embarrassing!

As with everything, you’ve got to find what works for you. I’ve found my balance and until it stops working, I’m sticking with it. What about you?

A new look for a new phase

Well, I finally did it – I got off my backside and launched my new website!

There are a few more things left to do but I’m glad I was able to get a lot of my old content over. That meant going through it and deleting a lot of useless junk, but, hey, we all have annoying chores at times, right?

I’m looking at the best way to put creative pieces on here that I can share, short stories and such, as well as what social media accounts I want to connect. There are big decisions to be made but this is a start to something better.

Not only that, I have a new section for my growing freelance work, and that area will grow in the future, too, I expect. It all looks so crisp and clean. Some new images might be a good idea, though…

I’m going to have a bigger update soon but I just wanted to welcome you to my new website

Happy days are coming, people!