Thursday, September 13, 2018

Small Change, Big Freaking Difference

Hellllloooooo, ATB readers!

It's a gloomy September day in the Poconos. Perfect weather to write a murder mystery set during gloomy weather in the Poconos. Oh, I need a better outdoor description? Why don't I just crane my neck, look out my living room window, and write what I see? Perfect. Easy and done.

I'm drafting a new book. And in typical KGG fashion, I was 53K words into the story before I recognized that it needed to be fixed. Normally this would be depress me but I took a class (Write Better Faster) last summer that enlightened me to my strengths. It turns out that this is part of my process and I should just go with it--so I am. And I feel loads better for it. Not all is wasted. Most of my material can be used in the new draft. So everything's truly fine.

This class also taught me to focus on forming one new habit to help my efficiency, and that is what I'm here to talk to you about today. Everyone has a different stumbling block. For some, it's finding time to work but for me, it's making efficient use of the time I have. I'm a stay-at-home mom but during the summer my kids are home. They're running around outside, throwing on swimsuits to play in the neighbor's pool, asking for snacks a bazillion times a day. It's constant interruption. And the minute I get out of my mental zone, I check Facebook and Reddit and Twitter.  

I've lost my train of thought. What's on AVClub?

So what's the change I made? Did I swap out my kids for noise-canceling headphones? Did I barricade myself in a soundproof room? No. I did this:

I woke up earlier than them.

5:15 am to be exact.

Blech. It's so early. It really is. And I don't like getting up early. But there are so many pros to being up before everyone else.

First, it's so damn quiet. Just me and the dog. I pour a cup of coffee, grab my laptop, and head downstairs into the basement where my desk is. I don't browse Facebook nor do I check my email (who's sending me anything important at 5 o'clock in the morning?). I simply open up my manuscript and work.

Second, it's a hyper-focused 90 minutes. Sometimes I get a little done--half a scene written. Sometimes I'm on a roll. Sometimes I finish up in the afternoon. Sometimes I don't. But all the time, I'm making progress. There have been one or two days where I couldn't wake up. I was sooo damn tired, and that's fine. Better to recharge than burn out.

Lastly, I'm not a night owl. After a long day, and a hectic evening trying to do homework, make dinner, attend soccer practice, I don't want to write. My brain doesn't work. It can't form words right, let alone sentences. For some reason, I am my best self in the morning. Tired, but best.

While I don't looove my early alarm, I do love getting words on the page before breakfast. I love feeling productive. I love feeling like I'm moving toward the finish line even if it's by inches and not miles. I wrote 2K words yesterday, half of them before sunrise. Go me!

So...have you recently made a small change that has a made a big difference in your life? Sound off below.


Brenda St John Brown said...

I took this class too! In theory, I should be doing the same thing as you, but with a teenager who didn't even get out of bed until 11am most days this summer, it was easier to get words in before he started rattling around. My biggest problem is checking social media as a way of procrastination. I'm SO good at it. ha. But, trying to improve and getting there.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Great post Kim! I'm looking forward to starting a course on writing in November. It claims to take writers to a whole new level, I'm hopeful, but skeptical. I should also be waking early to write. It is my best time but I love to lounge with coffee in the morning and sort of do a slow wake up. You've inspired me. Maybe I'll try it a few times a week? Better than nothing.

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