Sunday, June 22, 2014

Slush Pile (Part One)

Ok. It's time to revisit this place a bit and blow some of the dust off the furniture and open the windows and let some sunlight back in. So, what have I been up to? Sadly, nothing too exciting outside of working to the point of mental exhaustion. If that didn't just set the mood for you then I don't know what will, but anyway, that's part of the reason I'm revisiting my corner of the interwebs (or The Googles if you feel so inclined).

Sometimes you reach a point where you like what you're doing, but know that you're not doing what you want to be. What can be even more debilitating is when the thing you like doing starts to prevent you from that other thing you want to be doing and oh yeah, that thing you like doing is starting to become a real pain in the ass.

Confused? Let me try to explain. We all have a job we get up and go to and if you're really lucky it's bearable enough that you can pay the bills and not find yourself developing an ulcer. But sometimes you reach a point where you want more. I think this usually occurs around the time when you start seeing the days, months and even the years slipping by and all you're looking forward to is that next vacation or day off.

I have what you'd consider a "day job" that pays the bills, keeps a roof over my head, and allows me a very comfortable living. My real job is fighting for justice. I'm kidding. I had to throw that in there. My real job is being a writer or more importantly an independent author. I've been fortunate enough that I've had some small success that has made me realize what I've known all along: This is what I should be doing. This is what I need to be doing.

I wrote a post on here a while back about why I write and if you're feeling nostalgic you can find it in the archives. Don't forget to bring a flashlight and don't talk to anyone.

Anyway ...

The real purpose of this post is the decision to work on making writing my full-time (and only) job.

The benefit of working a "day job" like the one I have is that I don't take any of it home with me. When the day is done, it's done and I can move on and do other things. However, of late, that hasn't been the case and more of it has seeped into the time I'd rather spend writing or working on projects.

I definitely shoulder most of the blame as sometimes you just have to force yourself to disconnect, but it's also really easy to get into a pattern of, "Oh, I'll just write tomorrow" and before you know it three months have gone by and you haven't written two sentences and the project you're working on has lost momentum.

I've been aware for a while that I needed to make a change. If I kept on the path I was on my fear was that I would wake up and find myself older, grayer, and having written nothing of substance in a very long time. I certainly didn't want that. The real turning point I think was when I missed entering a story into an anthology I really wanted to be a part of. Again, totally my fault, I let myself get too distracted by other things and didn't have my focus in the right place.

But here's what I did to right the ship.

I started to set parameters for myself to keep myself focused. I set a timer for one hour and a half and I write for that long and when the timer goes off I wrap up what I'm doing. It's actually worked really well as sometimes I want to keep writing, but I've noticed the energy carries over to the next day.

I've also been forcing myself to read more. I won't let myself check email/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc or cue up Netflix until I've read at least forty pages in whatever book I'm in.

I have to be honest this has worked really well. I feel more clear headed the more I'm disengaged from technology. I don't feel the anxiousness to keep updating feeds or replying to comments.

If you take anything away from this post, take that, and give it a try.

I think I'm going to wrap up part one here and continue this later in the week. Next time I'll dive into why I'm calling this section of writing 'Slush Pile.'

I know, I know, cliffhanger.

::Author's note:: During the writing of this post I looked up and out the window and saw a woman staring in at me from outside. Turns out she wasn't looking at me, but the window above my apartment where she was arguing with her boyfriend about how he erased her shows on the DVR. This has no relevancy to the rest of the post, but consider it a DVD extra of sorts. Oh yeah, if you feel so inclined, sign up for my newsletter so I can send you cool stuff I'm working on or an autographed t-shirt signed by John Stamos. Okay, that's a lie. But still. You should sign up.