March 20, 2015
I haven’t had solid deadlines for a couple of months, and I’ve been doing a lot of revisions, and my motivation has not been what it should be. Revisions are hard — it feels like running in place sometimes.
So what do I do when I can’t seem to get anything done and yet feel like I have too many things on my list? Because it turns out that’s one of the things I do when I don’t feel like I’m getting anything done: I make to-do lists. I have so many lists on my desk right now.
Here’s what worked for me yesterday. I’m sharing in case it helps anyone else.
Work on one thing for half an hour then move on.
All the things I really need to get done feel like huge jobs. Daunting, big jobs. I’m doing a third draft on one novel, revising a zero draft of another novel, writing a speech for an event where I’m the keynote speaker — plus there’s all the new stuff I want to write. This is too much to work on in one day! So, I don’t have to actually finish the whole job. Any of the whole jobs. I can work on a little piece of each. For a short burst. Sprints, if you like.
I’ve always known about breaking big goals into smaller goals. This is why writers are often so focused on word count — you can’t sit down and write a novel, that’s too big a job. But you can sit down and write a thousand words. This is the same thing, but breaking a big day into smaller chunks — I couldn’t revise the entire book, but I could work on it for half an hour.
You guys, I got so much done yesterday. Added a polishing thousand words to the third draft. Finished a chapter of the zero draft. Added 500 words to the speech. Started a brand new thing that I’m so excited about.
And I knitted in the evening guilt free. I’m feeling good! And the jobs all feel doable instead of daunting now. So, let’s file away that strategy for the future.