(I’m sick today so I’m doing a writing post instead of a writing video.)
Back in elementary school, we used to have “D.E.A.R.” time. Drop Everything and Read. Every so often, a bell would ring, and we would all just stop everything we were doing and read for 30 minutes. I used to love this.
Recently, life has been a little crazy for me. But then, it’s always crazy. I’m a freelancer, I take on way too much work for too many clients, I teach creative writing classes, and I put out tons of content like this post because I feel called to spread the creativity and art and help other creatives (especially writers) as much as I can. So I always have a million things going on, and often my creative writing time takes a backseat to everything else.
It should not be that way, though. Yes, my freelance writing is paying more of the bills right now than my creative writing, but I should always have 30 minutes a day to give to my creative writing. It has always been my goal to get to the place where my creative writing is my primary way of making a living, even if I have to supplement it with some freelancing, editing, or teaching, but that’s never going to happen if I can’t take the time to actually write my novels, plays, etc.
So I’ve started what I call daily “F.E.A.W” time. F**k Everything and Write. (I try to keep it PG-13 on the blog, but at least I used asterisks!) I don’t do it at the same time every day, and I have missed a few days since I started doing it, but overall, it’s really working for me. Every day, I choose a time, and then I stop everything else I’m doing and write for 30 minutes. This has been incredibly productive. I’m sure I’ll have to adjust this to “F.E.A.E.” (F**ck Everything and Edit) time when I’m in the revision stages, but the concept is the same.
I even got my friend Julie doing this with me. She has an incredible story of surviving breast cancer and also going from someone who was terrified to even step up to the microphone when singing in an ensemble to being the freaking music director at a large church, and she’s in the process of writing a book about her journey. But she was having some trouble, too, with actually getting the words out because her life is crazy busy as well. My advice to her? F**k Everything and Write. And having her do it with me is keeping me on task.
What am I writing? I was in the middle of book 3 of The Muse Chronicles and having difficulty with it. I’ve literally been working on this book all year, and I can usually get through a first draft in two to three months. I kept getting stuck. A little over a month ago, though, I was invited to a mobile reading app called Radish. I got so excited that I was selected for this app that I put book 3 aside for a moment to start a super trope-y soap opera-esque vampire story. And I’ve been having so much fun writing it.
I think I was having so much trouble with book 3 because I was putting so much pressure on myself. I started the first draft of book 1 (We Own the Sky) back in the fall of 2012. And my main inspiration for this trilogy came from characters that were in a play I wrote in 2006. I have literally been living in this world, with these characters, for over 12 years. You can see how it’s hard for me to let go of them.
Add to that all of my reviews for book 1 and 2 on Amazon and Goodreads (which have been mostly positive – but the negative ones stick in my head, naturally) and all of the people who have said things to me like “I can’t wait to read book 3!” and “You need to hurry up!” and I was having a really hard time getting all of these voices out of my head and just finishing the draft. Plus I really want to give these characters a good ending.
It was so refreshing for me to pause all of that and start writing this vampire story. Writing this story, I had two objectives: leave every chapter with a cliffhanger so readers would keep reading and have fun. As much as I love cheesy teenage vampire/fantasy soap operas, I knew writing in that style would be so much fun. (I’ve watched a number of CW shows so I understand this, y’all.) Sure, I was trying to deliver the best story I could for the readers on the platform, but other than that, I wasn’t really worried about it being “good.” At least, not in the same way I worry about The Muse Chronicles being good. And one of the great things about Radish? No reviews. Anywhere! So I have no idea what anyone thinks of it, and I like it that way. It helps me to keep going.
I can get to that place with The Muse Chronicles where I shut out all of the voices and get back to writing, but it takes me a minute. So writing Into the Shadows (my vampire story) has been its own “F**k Everything and Write” exercise for me. And now that I’m nearly done with it, I can get back to book 3. And I know that with my new writing approach and everything I’ve learned writing Into the Shadows, I’ll finish a draft of book 3 in no time.