How to Stay on Track
by Davalynn Spencer
As a published author, I find self-discipline to be more important now than it was before I sold my first book. Gone are the days in which I could write at my own pace, when no deadlines loomed, and the push to produce came more from pleasure than editorial demand.
I still write for pleasure—because it’s what I love to do—but distractions have multiplied like rabbits. They can nibble away at my writing time until I’m left with an hour or two instead of an entire morning or afternoon.
In addition to working a part-time job as a college professor and taking care of my family and home, I face other writing-related demands that chew up valuable time. Why? Because there is more to writing than writing. Today authors are expected to make online connections and participate in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and a host of others.
Unless I apply a hefty dose of self-discipline when I sit down at my computer, I find myself in the role of Hare rather than Tortoise. I can easily get lost on the e-mail trail or shoot off into the underbrush of blog hopping and checking the latest Twitter and Facebook posts. And how easy it is to lose all track of time jumping from picture to glorious picture on Pinterest.
Two to four hours can dash by like a long-legged jack rabbit unless I limit myself.
Some writers use one computer without internet access for writing and another computer for all their marketing and communications. That’s a nice answer if you have two computers or a smart phone or whatever the latest gadget is on the market. I choose to use the clock and budget my time.
Rather than yank the entire social networking plug, I give myself an hour each morning to check in, check up, and check out.
Check in: First I skim my e-mail for critical communiqués from family members, my agent, and my current editor. All my social networking sites link through my e-mail.
Check up: Depending on the messages, I deal with the most pressing matters first. I may have to jot down a to-do list for later in the day, but at least I have a visual reference for reminder. If more than an hour is required for the check up, the remainder of my e-mail must wait. Just because mail lands in my inbox doesn’t mean I have to read it immediately.
Check out: Next, on days I’m not teaching, I write. When I’m in the first draft, my goal is 2,000 words a day. This goal flexes as I shift into proofread/edit mode, or the mode I dislike most—Weasel-Word Review. (Latest find: the word “of” used 746 times in 190 pages. Gag!)
I could easily write all morning, afternoon, and evening, so I force myself to take breaks. My husband helps with this since he still enjoys breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Late afternoon, I check my inbox again to see if any must-see email has landed. Usually by that time of the day I can spend another hour visiting blogs, posting to my own blog, commenting on other author sites and posts, and generally participating in the social-networking author-reader community.
However, my day doesn’t start at my computer. It begins in the corner of my sofa with the Lord and my Bible. Without those quiet times when the house is still and the sun is climbing the eastern tree line, all the self-discipline in the world is worthless. What’s the point of “doing” if I’m not doing what He wants?
Things don’t always go as planned, but at least I have a plan. It helps keep me on track—and off those rabbit trails that tempt me away from my goal.
Meet the Author:
Davalynn Spencer’s love of writing has taken her from the national rodeo circuit and the newsroom’s daily crime beat to college classrooms and inspirational publication. When not writing romance or teaching, she speaks at women’s retreats and plays on her church’s worship team. She and her husband have three children and four grandchildren and make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue. To learn more about Davalynn visit her website at www.davalynnspencer.com or her blog at www.davalynnspencer.blogspot.com.
Click the Picture below for more info on Davalynn’s novels.
Available now as an e-book from Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and Barnes&noble.com. Available in hard copy and e-book from White Rose Publishing, a division of PelicanBookGroup.com.
Devastated by her cheating boyfriend, an elementary school teacher heads home for Christmas only to be surprised by the handsome stranger waiting there.
Angela Murphy’s plans for a cozy Colorado Christmas shatter when she finds her fellow-teacher boyfriend entangled with another woman. But she goes home anyway—to the Berthoud Boarding House where her grandmother Mollie needs help with tasks requiring both Angela’s aid and that of a handsome new boarder, Matt Dawson. Temporarily rooming at the boarding house until his new furnace arrives, Matt sees through Mollie’s manipulations. But he can’t complain about spending time with the beautiful gray-eyed school teacher and the mangy stray dog they pick up on their way home from cutting a Christmas tree. In the company of both a beauty and a beast, Matt remembers the encouragement of a long-forgotten youth minister. Will those words draw him back to a long-forgotten God? And will Angela find that home lies not in the Victorian house of her childhood, but in the arms of the man she’s grown to love?
Coming in August from Heartsong Presents
After twelve years away and a broken engagement, Laura Bell returns home to find her childhood friend more than a little different than when she left him.