Protect your time. Protect your time. Protect your time.Tina Connolly (Ironskin, "Turning the Apples") adds a helpful rejoinder to Alexander's piece:
In fact, protect it so much, that if you already know what I'm going to say here, stop reading, and get back to writing. ...
The most valuable thing you have as a writer just starting off is time. Time, and taking yourself seriously. I was going to break the serious thing out into another post, but it really fits here, because you won't make the time for yourself until you do take your writing seriously.
I know how easy it is to let real life waylay your writing time. But if your writing never wins out, you'll never get anywhere. Ever.
There was a point when I was finishing up Moonshifted, where I shut out the whole world and did nothing but go to work and write. I made one date night a week with my husband ... everything else went into the book. A little bit ago, mid-July, post turning the book in, I said to my husband, "I worry our group of friends isn't hanging out as often as they used to." And he looked at me like I was insane and said, "No, you've just been living in a cave."
What I always say is, don't worry about falling down on your goals -- just get back up the next day and try again. (When I first started, I thought I had to do double wordcount the next day, etc, which very quickly ran aground.) Also, crazy goals over a very short period of time can be fun, but for a long haul if you're just trying to get better habits, set something very easy. I mean ridiculously easy, like 50 words or 10 minutes. Or 5 words. 5 brushstrokes. 5 scales. 5 minutes without facebook.Both views have merit, but I'm finding Connolly's counsel particularly helpful at this point in life. Having just put to bed the most quantitatively intense course so-far in my masters program, I'm not only completely disconnected from my usual writing schedule, but also having difficulty thinking creatively. It feels like stretching a long-disused muscle, full of aches and exertion. Perhaps the goal for the creatively constrained ought to be less great continent-crossing blocks of time and more short compositional strolls.
Point is, always start small. Gives you something to exceed, and once you've got that, you can always aim higher.
(Picture: CC 2007 by jimmedia)