This week I'm reading a book that's teaching me some strategies to overcome my barriers to writing. Because even when I'm having a good writing day, or week, there are barriers occurring. I could be doing better. I could always be doing better, and doing more. So let's take a look at why I'm not, and what I can do to change these things.
Barrier: I'm drained from my day job.
There's no changing the fact that I have a day job. But I can change how it affects me. I can let things get to me less, I can leave more on time at the end of the day, and I can keep my spirits up by remembering that first thing in the AM and when I get home at night, I work for me, and that's the work I love best--the work of being a writer.
Barrier: No private writing space.
Can't entirely change this one yet, either. Right now my desk is in a corner of the living room. I hate being in the middle of everything (I write better when I am or feel completely alone), but there's no better place for the desk to go. It hurts my back and neck to sit on my bed and write on the laptop, so that's out, too. What I can do is try to devote the time that I have the apartment to myself to writing and writing only, and use the time where I'm not here by myself to do other writerly things (website, social media, reading/writing blog posts, etc).
Barrier: I'm a neat/clean freak.
I can't write unless the place is reasonably neat and clean. And sometimes this place is messier than I'd like. I can't write if, for example, there are dishes everywhere in the kitchen. But what I can start doing is asking for more help. I don't have to do it all myself.
Barrier: So many things I need to do.
Emails to friends, painting my nails, writing articles about makeup or gluten-free food, cooking new recipes, reading books for inspiration or pleasure, doing laundry, random TJ Maxx visits, etc...my to-do lists every day are massive. And sometimes I don't attempt writing until all that crap is done. That's a bad tactic to take--writing needs to come first. So perhaps the to-do list needs to be restructured into tiers of priorities. Do tier 1 first, and writing should always be a part of that tier. Then move on to tier 2 if I have the time/energy. Most of the things I mentioned can wait a day or two. But writing can't--and shouldn't--wait.
Barrier: Author platform!
I'm currently working on my website, social media plan, and more. But what I really need to do is set aside some specific time periods earmarked for this stuff. It's eating up my designated writing time. The way to overcome this barrier is to create designated periods of writing time and platform time, and stick to them. The good thing about platform time? I can be in an environment with noise, distractions, etc and still accomplish platform work, unlike writing time, where I need to have quiet and solitude to do quality work.
Barrier: Not enough good sleep.
I'm trying to get to bed at 10:30 every night so I can wake up at 5:30 every morning. But sometimes this doesn't happen. Like last night, I ate something that didn't agree with me, and I was sick. I had fragmented sleep until my boyfriend came to bed at 12:45, at which point I was aware of him coming to bed and was awakened again. And then I became so paranoid about not getting good sleep and potentially sleeping through my alarm clock that I kept waking up and looking at the clock to make sure I hadn't overslept. Sigh. This is another thing I can't do alone. Boyfriend has made some awesome progress with helping me with this, but some nights are still just not great. Since getting to bed earlier is one of his goals too, I need to keep reminding him to be more cognizant of this, because it helps us both.
Barrier: Sometimes I just need a break, OK?
Between the day job and side projects and doing chores/housework/errands and trying to maintain good contact with friends/family, I often get exhausted. Sometimes I just want to read, watch a baseball game, or watch cat videos on the internet. This is totally OK, and I shouldn't feel guilty about it as long as I'm approaching it in a reasonable way. I need to begin setting break periods for myself, and once those periods are over, I need to get back on the horse.
Barrier: I'm overwhelmed.
The Emerson books are, hands down, the best story idea I've ever had. And I want to write them right. But there's so much plot going on. I've never written anything with this much plot before. When I start feeling like this, I need to just take it one step at a time. Baby steps. One chapter at a time.
Barrier: Knowing there's still so much I need to know.
I need to remember that this is OK. Nobody expects me to have a perfect first draft--far from it. It's a continually evolving process, one that involves rewrites and more research and so much else. But that's OK. Every writer goes through this. It doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong--it actually means I'm doing stuff right.