Writing for Yourself

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am attempting to start a book based on this blog. I won’t lie to you: I’m not making as much progress as I thought I would. The reason might surprise some of you, or it might not: I don’t have a deadline.

Working for other people is much easier to prioritize and force myself to do. However, if I’m between jobs and it’s a beautiful day in Florida (and it often is), taking a walk outside seems a much more enjoyable way to spend my time than to write for myself. And after all, it’s not like there’s a deadline.

I started griping about this on Facebook, and my loyal group of friends had an interesting set of suggestions:

“Walk and ‘write’ into a voice recorder?”

“Save your errands so walk around and do them when it is sunny. Use the time when it is not write. If it is sunny most of the time put a daily walk into your schedule. Sun shine and exercise get your blood flowing and raise your mood so you can work more efficiently.”

“Walking time is thinking time. You don’t have to be physically putting words on paper. Er. Screen. To consider yourself writing.”

“Maybe walk to a park and write. :)”

“Perhaps you need to move to a more overcast and gloomy state…or write at night…”

I’ll take those one at a time, as I did on FB.

Re: voice recording my “writing”

The problem with voice recorders is that I write with a different part of my brain than I speak, and my speaking brain isn’t nearly as literate and organized as my writing brain.

Re: scheduling a walk

This sounds like a reasonable proposal. I’ve scheduled exercise time (e.g. gym time, which is different from walking around outside in the sunshine), but walking time is slow time. Not that I’m walking slow, just that I want to spend a long time outside without sticking to a schedule. In essence, I’m playing hooky.

Re: “writing” while walking

Again, walking around outside is often playtime, not work time. I’m walking around outside to get off my butt and stop staring at the computer screen.

Re: walking to a park and writing there

This one has merit, if I think I’m going to be somewhere that allows me to sit down with the journal and scribble with the pen.

Re: moving somewhere with a colder, cloudier climate

The biggest problem with this suggestion–and I’m not saying it lacks merit–is that sunshine and warm weather are quality-of-life issues for me. I liked Huntsville and lived there for 9 years before circumstances sent me back to the Sunshine State. The sticky summer heat there is similar to what you can get in Florida. However, Alabama gets cold weather. They get ice. They get snow, one of my least-favorite things on the planet. When I lived there, I spent most of my vacationing money going to Orlando, and I was always sad leaving this place. I have a lot of space friends in Huntsville, but Orlando makes me happy, and that’s not something to throw away lightly.

So, having addressed the comments my friends have made so far, what solutions might I prescribe for myself?

  • Set writing time for myself at night–I’m very much a day creature when it comes to stepping outside.
  • Get a writing/editing partner who will hold me accountable when it comes to progress.
  • Set an artificial deadline, including a detailed Gantt chart for when to have particular items finished.
  • Continue writing about the book here and on Facebook so I have other people asking about my progress.
  • Make it my mission in life to get at least ONE book written this year.

Now…will I take my own medicine? The world wonders.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Directior, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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