Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reading Through my Work Diary

I wrote this article over a year ago and for some reason, it never got posted. It's a good article, so I'm posting it now. At the time, I was still working at a call center and I had just decided to revise Sacred Fire for the upteenth time instead of shelve it.

I had an interesting experience today.

I’m going through a little funk, so I decided to read through my work diary from the last time I revised Sacred Fire. At the time I wrote in my diary religiously every day. I’d say how long I worked, what time I worked, what I worked on, what I was struggling with, and what my goals were for the future. Since my last revision went by perfectly, I thought I might gain some insight into how I should progress this time around. 

I read a lot that surprised me.

Some of it was depressing. Often I complained about the same problems over and over. I’d say, “From now on, I’ll do better,” only to complain about it again the next day. I also read how much work I put into scenes that I now have to redo, or that I ended up cutting out of the book altogether.

Most of it was encouraging. There were times that I made a goal and I actually accomplished it. I wrote about several challenges where I outlined how I wanted to overcome them, and I wrote down each step I took along the way until I cleared that hurdle. Some challenges, I don’t even remember having. I also put a lot of worry into things that ended up not being a big deal.

It was educational, too. I was able to see what worked in the past and apply those lessons to today.

A couple parts made me chuckle. On August 5, I wrote: “Was going to open book at 3:00, but joy oh joy, I got laid off. So I’m a little upset.” Yeah, I remember that day.

Finally, some parts were exciting. It was fun to watch myself progress as a writer and a person.

August 10 was an especially insightful day. I was trying to decide how I wanted to structure my writing sessions (if I wanted to write every day, how long, etc.). At the time I had a goal of querying agents October 31, but I was stressed because I was unemployed and I was a little burnt out. I considered taking a break. This is what I wrote:

“If I stopped working on my book for two weeks, no one could blame me. But I don’t want to. I liked what I was doing, who I was becoming. It just takes adjustment. Everyone resists adjustment at first. I want to be done with my book by November. The world isn’t going to fall apart if it doesn’t get done, but it’s important to me. So, no breaks. There’s always an excuse.

“What kind of a writer am I?" it continued. "Am I the person who writes every day? Who gets up early, or stays up late, or stops relaxing in the evenings because I have to buckle down and get to work? Do I have the emotional capacity for that? I never have before. I’ll try a few different things, build a schedule, see what happens. But I’m not going to take any breaks.”

I actually got more work done when times were hard than when they were easy.

Update: I still read through my work diary every now and then, and I still learn a lot from it. In my opinion, every writer should keep one!

1 comment:

  1. Love this post; how you reviewed your work diary and all your accomplishments and tough days with fresh eyes.

    I've been too busy to get around to many blogs over the past few months, but now I've got some time again so I can start visiting again. I've always enjoyed your blog so I'm glad to see it still going.

    Christi Corbett


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