7 Ways to Slow Down

Maybe I’m just getting older and learning to appreciate the view more than the speed at which I’m traveling but I’ve really slowed down my writing. This morning, my bestest friend and I agreed to be accountability partners and report in one a week. Rather than racing from page 1 to a publishing contract, we’re taking the long way way around and you know what, it’s kinda nice.

Speaking for myself, I no longer get a knot in my stomach when I think of my book. I actually look forward (imagine that!) to sitting down and seeing what my characters might do next. By committing to one hour a day, either first thing in the morning, the middle of the day or the last hour of work before dinnertime – whatever is available – I actually get more done than I did when I was floundering aimlessly trying to hurry up and finish The Ballad of Aracely Calderon two years ago. I now average a finished chapter a week and at this pace, I will have a strong draft by December.

(FYI I haven’t given up on Aracely, by the way. I just needed a break and perspective!)

So here are the seven ways I’ve slowed down my writing and returned to the pleasures of writing:

  1. Commit to one hour a day. It can be any time of the day or night, five days a week or seven.  Do what feels right and works with your schedule.
  2. Streamline. Stop reading blogs and articles and books about how to sell your book while you’re writing the book. If you see a must-read title, jot it down on your wish list and then wait to read it after you’ve finished your book.
  3. Find an accountability partner. Set a time one a day, every other day or week – again, do what works for you – to report your progress.
  4. Change your thinking from, “I must finish the book” to “I will finish a chapter a week.” By breaking it down into bite size pieces, a 300+ page book is easier to digest.
  5. Schedule and log your time on a calendar, or better yet: a soundtrack. I do both! I have a soundtrack for my book made up of mostly movie soundtracks and a scattered jazz vocal pieces. Mostly I want to get into the mood and not sing along. By setting reminders on my Google calendar, I get ready to switch gears and get into the groove.
  6. Prioritize your time. It’s so tempting to sign up for every class, writing group or conference. (And don’t get me started on volunteering!) But ask yourself: will it take time away from my writing? I’m using RWA’s National Conference in New York as a goal to have a finished book and a polished pitch and proposal.
  7. Stop beating yourself up. This comes from a reformed drama queen who went to bed with the hair shirt and gave herself lashings while kneeling on a pile of beans when she didn’t meet her goals. If you got hit by a bus tomorrow, would it really matter if you only wrote two pages or missed your writing time? Probably not.
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