Writers Have To Be Like Frankenstein’s Monster–Made Up of a Million Parts

Photo Credit: Street art depicting Frankenstein in Berlin, 2008. Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (cc by-sa) Wikipedia user Jotquadrat.

Sometimes you just can’t get your writing done.

You know what to do. You’re just out of time what with your regular 9 to 5, your kid’s homework that needs your help, and someone has to cook if the family is going to eat.

You feel like you’re being pulled by your ‘to-do’ list which hasn’t been, ah, done in 22 days, or you’ve missed the deadline for yet another short story contest. Or the few minutes you do have, you spend at your desk stressed to the max playing computer games, all the while thinking back to when you first started creating. That halcyon time when all you had to do was write. No emails glided into the lower right corner of your screen. You turned the phone off, closed your door to the world, and lost yourself in a protracted date with your characters, putting them through their paces as surely as drivers of six-horse hitches do their fine Belgian horses at every fall fair.

Writing isn’t like that anymore. Writers need to self-promote, to establish an online presence, to engage their audience, and to become up close and personal with social media. Yes, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Digg, LinkedIn, and a lot more platforms compete for your time first to learn them and then to keep up with your presence on them. And your email increases exponentially because you find so many good ideas out there that you sign up to receive regular posts and you want to engage in commenting on others’ blogs in a quid pro quo arrangement, all the while hoping that your Klout Score is rising, your Google ratings are growing, and that you can actually remember all the wonderful things you’re learning out there in that binary-built country with no borders we call the Internet. And every once in a while you get a nasty happenstance because someone takes offense to something you’ve said or because they’re simply mean and ugly. I posted my very first video on You-Tube purely to learn how to use it as I wanted to expand my blog to interviews. The video was a lovely 20 seconds of Canada geese swimming in the lake near my home. Almost immediately some alias-signed nasty four letter words told me what I could do with my birds.  And that took more of my time while I had to decide what to do with the comment!

Is your problem, then, like mine was, that you don’t know how to manage your time? Or how to keep focused? Or how to prioritize your work?

If you see yourself in this predicament you need to do some honest-to-goodness soul-searching. Find out what you really want out of your writing. What are your most heartfelt desires? And what are you willing to do–or give up–to make those desires come true?

The solution is not easy, but simple, as Danny Iny at Firepole Marketing says. Make a plan based on your goals. Put a poster in your computer room or even on your desktop so that every time you look up, you see your goals. Get a mug printed up with those goals. And better yet, decide what you are willing to do to reach your goals.

And do it.

My plan was, and is, to write 2-3 hours every morning, no matter what. To make appointments that do not interfere with my writing time. To turn off my phone and my email. And to ask my husband to respect my closed-door policy. I also make sure my day includes lots of other things that make me happy but the best happiness comes from finishing that writing time first thing in the morning before getting on with the rest of my day. And, you know? I don’t often feel like I’m made up of a million parts, like Frankenstein’s monster. If I do, I know my to-do list just has too many things on it. And I revise. Isn’t that what writers are good at?

Consider sharing, in the comments section,  your methods for accomplishing your goals in spite of having too much to do.

Elaine Cougler

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14 thoughts on “Writers Have To Be Like Frankenstein’s Monster–Made Up of a Million Parts

  1. It is too bad that some people are so unhappy that they have to spread it wherever they go! Just delete the nasty emails. Is there a way to block someone like that? You know, you don’t look anything like Frankenstein. You look like a writer! I hope you have a better day today!

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  2. Timely post, Elaine. I’ve realized lately I’m spending too much time on the internet, always writing related, geared to promotion, but it is taking away from my writing time. My mind was full of what I could or should be doing.
    I do set goals weekly and share with 3 wonderful writing friends. This keeps me accountable, in my own mind anyway.
    I’m trying to be more focused on my promotion strategies, and be sure to put word counts first.

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    • I think every time a writer reaches a new goal or finds some bright light to follow toward success, her or his best plans at organization tend to skid a bit. I’ve spent a lot of months doing down a road which, it turns out, has been less useful than I had hoped. I’ve lost time. Now I need to catch up. There is such a lot of readjusting our priorities, isn’t there, Sharon? Thanks for your insights.

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  3. Good points. I do spend way too much time on social media and blogs, but I enjoy it. To-do lists always get the better of me and I don’t do what is there to do while I do a whole lot of things not on the list. That is discouraging. Plans always have a way of getting messed up in my life.I have found I accomplish more without lists though my day may go in a different direction than I had imagined. But then I guess I’m strange. I have not been doing much writing lately and my inspiration seems to have gone on strike. I was going to use the holiday weekend to do oh-so much, but then decided to take a holiday away from too much computer. Today I wrote one article and about 3/4s of another (first drafts only) for an online magazine. I submitted one a couple of weeks ago and still have another to do. They are all due by September 20. But I think the ‘rest’ has stirred up the brain cells again. I must take care not to let it slip away again. 🙂

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    • Ah, Diane, I hear the words of a truly creative person in your comment. How wonderful. And I think you’re doing a terrific job of feeding your creativity. I, too, have felt those times when I just needed to walk away. And when I come back, ta-da! My brain is refreshed and I go on. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. As I know you are aware of, Elaine, this has been my year to cut back. I expanded my internet presence too far last year and when family stuff came up, there were no parts left to share. Since I’ve cut back I have felt much less stressed, but I still have trouble getting in a good quality writing time every day. Obviously there is more work to do in the lab!

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    • A work in progress. That expression describes much more than our writing, doesn’t it? I copied the chutney recipe on your blog, Jessica. Sounds like a wonderful way to be creative without writing. Just what we might need, on a lovely September day.

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  5. It is a sad mark on our day and age that people actually look forward to making other people feel bad, whether by twitter, email or by commenting on your blog…what a waste of energy! It is always tempting to respond to them, but of course that’s what they want, for you to also waste your time!

    It is certainly difficult to keep focused when there are so many areas on the internet that demand your attention, I am distracted very easily, and must learn to structure myself inorder to produce more pages…or at least one page 🙂

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