Friday, February 18, 2011
The Writer's Life with Pamela Hamilton
Because I do work full time and write part time, I don’t have what I would call a “typical” writing day. I work with adults returning to college to complete their Bachelor’s degree. They may be 20 years older than the traditional students at James Madison University, but they have the same crises as any student – they fail calculus, have no idea of what they want to study, or clash with a professor. Some days I come home so drained, that my daily writing output is a sentence or two in my journal!
Since I know there are going to be days when I drag myself home from work and my accomplishment of the night will be finding out “who dunnit” on Law and Order before I fall asleep, I don’t set daily writing goals for myself. Instead, each Sunday afternoon, I write out a “This week ‘s accomplishments” list. It contains five to seven writing goals I want to accomplish over the upcoming week. Because I get bored easily, not to mention frustrated, I make sure to include a variety of tasks, all related to my writing but not necessarily all putting pen to paper.
A typical list might include:
• Journal daily
• Update my blog 2 to 3 times
• Write 7 to 14 pages on current story
• Edit 3 or 4 photos and upload to Flickr
• Read a good book (or a bad one) for inspiration
• Do internet research for upcoming project
With the publication of Snow Day, my weekly Accomplishments Lists now include marketing goals for each week, such as updating the Snow Day fan page on Facebook, sending out review copies, setting up book signings or readings.
This rather untargeted approach may not work for everybody, but it has kept me on track for the past year. I used to set specific goals, such as writing for an hour every day or writing two pages every day. More often than not, I didn’t achieve that goal, and each time I failed, I only gave my inner critic a bit more ammunition to convince me that I was the failure. Now, if the words don’t flow until Friday, it’s OK. Now if Photoshop drives me to raid that bag of Hershey kisses on Tuesday instead of editing another photo, I don’t care. The result? A lot more checkmarks on my Accomplishment List each week.
I keep those lists, too, in a folder, for awhile, so when I do get discouraged and hear myself saying “I can’t do this!” I can go back and see all that I can do, week by week by week. My inner critic is suddenly stricken with laryngitis --- and I find I don’t have time to write a get well soon note. I’m too busy writing.
Follow Day 3 of Ms. Hamilton's tour tomorrow at http://www.melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/. Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix - at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.