This weekend, my sister-in-law gave birth to her second child. Therefore, my wife and I watched her first child, hosted our in-laws, and kept busy with other familial duties. While it wasn’t the relaxing Labor Day weekend I would have wanted, I enjoyed a very happy and exciting weekend. But as the weekend wound down, I came to some conclusions about my soon-to-be-expanding family and my writing productivity.
You see, my wife and I are preparing for the birth of our first child in November. So while I was more spectator and helper than participant this weekend, I couldn’t help but think of the future of my family–and how much needed to be done between now and then. I need to take care of my wife, attend birthing and first aid classes, finish prepping my daughter’s room, read more baby books….
At the same time, I’m also working on the rough draft of my novel. I plan to complete the rough draft before my child is born. While I don’t need to work at quite Nanowrimo levels (i.e., 1,667 words per day), that pace isn’t far off. I chose this goal for two reasons. First, my life is going to seriously change that day. So why not complete one thing as another thing begins? Second, the goal is achievable but not easy. I want to push myself and be proud of my accomplishment when it’s over.
The only problem is that when attempting such a goal, I have to walk a fine line. It’s easy to fall short on days when I have a lot to do, like work full-time, help out family, babysit my niece, and finish a big freelance project. Now to be sure, I’m thankful that I have that I am surrounded by family and that I have enough work to provide for my family. But on days like that, my productivity tanks, and I can’t afford too many days where I get zero words written, even if I have the most wonderful excuse, like the birth of my new nephew.
And even worse, I often turn a bad day into a bad week or month. After I wrote zero words on Sunday, I was considering letting Monday slip by as well. I felt tired, and I wanted to be a good host, so it was easy to come up with a long list of excuses. However, I am proud to say that I persevered and wrote just over 750 words last night. But this weekend has got me thinking about the next three months.
Conclusions about maintaining productivity
- There is no easy/quiet time now, and there certainly won’t be after my daughter is born. There will always be something other than writing to do. The only writing time I will ever have is the time I make for it. Therefore, I must sacrifice if I want to maintain my productivity. But while I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of sleep, I won’t sacrifice family.
- It is easy to say “I can’t write today.” But the truth is more like, “I don’t want to write today.”
- Crappy days are going to happen. No plan is perfect. Acknowledge them and move on. Come back and write the next day. Same goes for working out, eating right, and sleeping.
- On the flip side, take advantage of the good days. If you have the time and the energy, keep writing past your daily word count. Bank the bonus words.
Many of these conclusions are obvious. And I’m sure they reveal my noob status. I’ve seen them before, and I’m sure I’ll see them again. Heck, I’ll likely have to learn them again. It’s one thing to read it and another thing to experience it, though. But if it helps me overcome my natural laziness, if it helps me build a bit more discipline, and if it gets me one step closer to writing this novel, that’s a big win for me.
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