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I want to be a King, but I’ll settle for being an author

So, the dust is slowly settling on the ill-famed Great PC Crash of 2010. Relief efforts have gone well. My desktop is about 80% functional, with my laptop coming in a little over 90%. Since I got myself back up and running faster than I thought, it’s time to refocus on writing.

If one thing my latest computer shenanigans taught me–besides the importance of keeping several backups copies of work–is that owning a computer doesn’t automatically make me a writer. A computer can do a lot of things, but it cannot sit your butt down and grind out the words for you. That is where dedication and perseverance comes in.

I could have whipped out a notebook and pen and continued working on “Racing,” but in truth, I was too lazy. Well, maybe lazy is a strong word, being that I did spend the time working on rebuilding my computers. (I’m my own Geek Squad, in case you didn’t realize.) However, there were free moments I could have grabbed some paper and a pen and jotted down notes, conversations between characters, or just mapped out upcoming scenes.

If this writing thing is going to be a serious venture, then I need to engage in the craft more than I do. Stephen King wrote that he writes 3,000 words daily. This includes weekends and holidays. I believe the only time he didn’t write was when he was recovering from being struck by a van while out jogging. But as soon as he was able, he got back to his computer. Back to his 3,000 words a day quota.

While that’s a fair amount of writing to do daily, it showed me a few things that I had been lacking in myself. First, I wasn’t as disciplined as I needed to be. Sure, I could sit down and write, maybe even crank out the 3,000 words in a day. But I lack the discipline to do so consistently. I’m easily distracted. It’s one of my better personality quirks. I can become more distracted as I find myself hitting against a wall with my writing. Yes, when the proverbial going gets rough, I abandon my desk in pursuit of distraction.

Not all my distractions are bad mind you. I have a full house, between a teenager, two preteens and an eleven year old, who wishes she were a teen, well, they keep me busy with their social dramas, lofty dreams and the demands that kids their age place on their parents. I try to balance family, with personal time, with relationship time, with writing time. Oh, and somewhere in there I manage to run a small-press publishing company that publishes two online magazines. If there is any time to be had from there, I try to catch up with my social engagements. Though I don’t expect to have too many friends at this rate since I hardly get to see them.

Yes, I know it’s a lot. However, I have to find a balance so the important things get the attention they need, and the less-than-important things provide a respite when needed. The gym I can get out of the way as early as 5AM, leaving the evenings to catch up with family then write from there. Maybe I can make the weekend “kid’s choice” and let them select our family activities.

Another thing I took from King’s statement is that he gets his 3,000 first. Sounds a little selfish, but being a writer involves a little selfishness. It makes sense, when you think about it. Once the 3,000 words are done, the rest of the day is his to do as he pleases. In my world, the gym would get the “do first thing in the morning” spot, if for nothing more than it helps me think. Working out gets me thinking about my characters, or maybe I can work through a particular problem on which I had been stuck. But I plan to implement the “words first” mentality this November when NaNoWriMo comes around. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that my computers will still be running at the end of the year.

Photo by John Piekos

Published in On My Mind

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