Just a Little Thing Called Fear
An Approach to Writing Scenes

The Writing Contract

Alarm_clock_numbers_266493_lWriting, writing, writing.

It's really all we writers want to spend our time doing.  Unless we don't.  Our can't.  Or won't for some reason.  And then what we do is worry about the fact that we're not writing.

I've been doing free sessions (there's one slot left if you're interested) and mostly what people want to talk about is how to find time to write, or some variation on that theme, like how to focus when they actually find the time.

Not gonna lie here, I struggle with this, too.  I struggle to balance all the aspects of my writing: blogging, teaching, ghostwriting, coaching and novel writing.  Most often what goes by the wayside is my novel writing.

Which is stupid, because it novel writing is what defines me.  It is what makes me me, what I feel I'm here to do--communicate through story telling.  So it's an act of self-destruction not to do it.

A couple weeks ago, I had a good run of working on it.  The clouds parted and I found myself with several free hours to write.  Pure bliss.  And then it ended.  And I didn't open the file for a week.

I thought about the novel.  Worried about the novel.  Some might even say obsessed about the novel.  But obsession didn't turn into writing.  Because, you know, I was so, so busy doing other important things.

Yesterday at lunch I read an article in the latest O magazine, in which author Aimee Bender wrote about a writing contract she drew up with a friend.  The contract was written in official language, maybe even notarized.  They made a big deal out of it, but basically the conditions of it were simple: the friend would write an hour a day, and after doing so would send Aimee a one-word email saying "done."  In return, Aimee would write, "check." 

And it worked like a charm.

Which reminded me of a time a few years ago when I was working on Emma Jean's Bad Behavior. My friend Suzanne and I would each get up early (at, yikes, 5 AM, I believe) to work and email each other when we were up.  If one of us didn't hear from the other, we'd call.

That simple. 

And yes, it was very effective.  I wrote a rough draft of my novel that way.

So yesterday, reading the article and remembering this, I lectured myself sternly.  Self, I said, it is not so much that you don't have the time, you don't have the mental time.  You're allowing yourself to be distracted and unfocused when if you really, truly wanted to, you could carve out an hour to work on your novel.  That thing that defines you, that makes you who you are.

And so, I did. And in the process, I started my own version of a writing contract, which is a small spiral notebook in which I note my goal (one hour of writing on my novel a day) and then keep daily track of how I accomplish it.  (I only had time for 30 minutes this morning, so I owe myself another 30 later on.)

And I feel good.

I'll keep you posted.

So, do you have a writing contract with yourself or someone else?  How do you keep yourself going?  Please share any good ideas you might have.

**And don't forget the Authenticity + Creativity class I'm offering with Karen Caterson.  Click the snazzy button to the right or click here to read our page.

Photo by draganski.