Make time, not excuses

I first sat down to write this month’s blog post at 1:16pm on the 28th of April. I don’t know when you’re reading it, but if you look at the top of this webpage, you can see the date that it was posted.

I try to get these blog posts out early in the month, or as close to a month apart as possible (so it will likely be another three weeks after the post date of this one before I post another, unless something changes). Part of that is to make sure that any bloggers who aren’t me get what every other blog post gets, which is a few links in the newsletter and at least a post on Facebook.

But another part of it is that sometimes it’s really hard to sit down and think of something to write. Or even if you think of something to write (I was originally going to write about the pitching experience (not baseball) that I had earlier this month), it doesn’t necessarily mean that the words end up on the page.

I was busy this month. A six-month work project is wrapping up (~30k word report), I had an assignment due (2k words, never mind all the reading I had to do for it). I wrote a 500-word pitch, and then after teasing that out, I have 2k words to submit for editorial consideration (which I’m anticipating will end in a ‘thanks but no thanks’), due by the 1st of May (I’m about 400 words in). Words are starting to get a little mushy.

But the thing is, I can carry on about why I didn’t write anything for me (it was school holidays, I’ve been busy, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on) blah blah blah, but let’s be honest. In that time I’ve also read two books (and started three others with varying degrees of progress). I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent on Reddit. I’m a season into Upstart Crow (which is streaming on Stan, if you have it). It’s not that I didn’t have time to write for me, it’s that I didn’t make time to write for me.

If you ever ask me what I’m up to (and people are quickly learning not to), I will always tell people when things are due (like I just did). This always makes me sound a little more fraught and far less organised than I am, but it’s one of the few ways I have of getting things done: I bake deadlines into my projects. In my mind, deadlines can sometimes be moved, but they can never be missed.

The pitching deadline and my work project deadlines, those are fixed. Every soft deadline I have has to work around them. Anything I manage to write (or not) for WOL is also a fixed deadline, although it doesn’t matter so much if I don’t write anything for it (although it’s usually a fun one to think about for the month). They have to move around work and uni and kids and life. Every day I write a list of all the things I have going on, and I work out which ones I’m going to tackle that day.

This blog post is a soft deadline (and a very soft one at that). There’s no set date where I have to put it out, and I haven’t ever had anyone asking me when the next one is going up, so I don’t think anyone would miss a month. But as I see April disappearing from the calendar, I know that if I don’t write something in the next two days, there will be no April post. And while I’m sure no one will pay much attention to that lack other than me, that really sucks because as far as I know, it means that the one person who does care about it is going to be disappointed.

Personal accountability is hard, but if you don’t give yourself the opportunity for failure, how can you ever succeed?

There’s a postgraduate journal with submissions closing in June or July (maybe I’ll look it up before I post this article). I’m going to submit something. I don’t know if it will be good enough or match the theme well enough, but I will submit something and patiently await my rejection. But even if I’m not published, I will have managed to get a story out of my head and into the world. And during the time that has been the story I’m not writing, I’ve had a few other ideas pop up. A dinner the other night turned into a potential collaboration somewhere down the line (which might breathe some life into a project I’ve been thinking about for two years). And instead of lamenting that I don’t have the time to work on these things, and letting other people convince me that that’s okay and I don’t need to change anything, it’s time to take responsibility for my lack of personal output, set some deadlines and get some words down on the page.

Right after I finish Upstart Crow.

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Rebecca Fletcher  has been looked up 1543 times, is no one’s favourite phrase, has been  added to 1 list, has 1 comment and is not a valid Scrabble word. 

If she ever gets her act together, you’ll be able to read more of her writing at saltyturnip.com            

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