As you know, I recently finished writing my first novel, the first 5 sample chapters of which you can find in the recent posts. I was holding back on starting my second novel until I finished this process, so that I could learn everything I could from writing a novel start to finish. But I just started writing novel #2 two weeks ago and I think the energy and ideas had pent up a bit, because suddenly I have written the first 10,000 words without half trying. My writing has also obviously improved since the first book. Awesome! But how did this happen? I need to know so I can repeat it again and again!
There were a lot of things going on in this situation, but I think the biggest component was the power of focus. Focus is only possible with time and space in which to focus, so I needed to make more space for my writing first. My husband encouraged me to make my schedule to work for me for a change, instead of just thinking of my daughter’s needs. We decided to enroll her for 3 half days of preschool a week instead of 2, and to start her during the summer instead of waiting for fall, because I was having a hard time keeping up with her needs for activity and learning and I was still feeling crazy from lack of space for myself. That was a hard decision, since I love spending so much time with her. But you know the old adage. If mama aint happy, aint nobody happy. As soon as I enrolled her in preschool, she started saying at random intervals through the day, “Mama, I’m so happy!” Yes, me too.
Second thing I needed to do: focus on one thing at a time. I don’t have a problem finishing things or anything, but I have been juggling so many projects that they have all progressed very slowly. So, I decided that this new time created by preschool was sacred to novel writing. Everything else would fit in around the edges like it always has. I drop baby girl off at preschool, drive straight home, and write until it’s time to pick her up, with a break for a walk outside if the weather is nice.
Did it work? Did it ever! The very first day she went to preschool I came home and wrote 2,000 words in 2 hours. Whoa. That may not be much for a full-time novelist, but this is a full-time mama who still doesn’t get a full night’s sleep most nights. And like I said, within 2 weeks I had 10,000 words written with only 6 extra hours per week. At this rate my crazy ambitious goal of having this novel written in 6 months in rough draft form is actually more than doable. I could get it done in 2 months if I can keep up this pace. Sorry to throw more interjections at you, but wow. With this tiny amount of time for my work, I can actually be a full-time mom (we still spend 2 full weekdays, 2 full weekend days, and all afternoons and evenings together) and keep my career moving forward, with energy to spare. What a difference a little focus makes.