Progress on a Dream: Slowly but Surely It Will Happen!

Diving Head or Feet First

I’ve been dragging my feet on outlining my novel. As a first time writer, I pantsed this first story with the whimsical imagination and drive of a hopeless romantic. The daydreams of agents calling after reading my query letter and spectacularly polished manuscript, flooded my overactive thoughts, but when it was complete, I felt directionless after the writing coach didn’t work out (see previous blog) on how to re-outline. The first part of outlining wasn’t so bad. As I read each chapter I easily figured out where I wanted to make changes, the second part not so much and it’s where I’m currently stuck.

When I reached out to a writing coach or what I thought was supposed to be a writing coach last year, I felt discouraged after reviewing her material and videos, realizing I already knew most of this information from previous classes, workshops, online sites and literature. I just didn’t implement all this knowledge while writing. I felt I needed someone with expertise to hold my hand and provide guidance on what to fix with structure, plot, development etc. I wanted to rush the revisions process along since it had taken ten plus years completing the shitty first draft. I dove head first off a cliff and grossly put, “SPLAT.”

In December of 2022, I panicked in meltdown mode after I cut ties with aforementioned coach. I took deep breaths, after my blubbering and crying episode, then rested the remainder of the year. In January, when I pulled up my sleeves ready to get organized, scanning through structuring/outlining books and workbooks I owned, I went through another meltdown, this time minor thank goodness. I kept thinking how I wasted my time and money on someone who I felt didn’t help me at all. I had to take those deep breaths again and make peace again, and let go.

I gathered all my materials and the rough outline I drafted after writing each chapter, meticulously making notes as I read page by page, doing my best to re-outline with guidance through my writing craft books. I wrote a lot of “filler” chapters that didn’t move the story or held no significance to the plot and characters, but there were some scenes I could use. I worked through the first part of the novel cutting and inserting these scenes into places where they’d fit best and created a “cuts” folder to keep those handy and was told never to throw away or delete pages/scenes/dialogue etc. I could always use those “cuts” in a potential short story!

With a full-time job it’s challenging to make the time for writing when you’re tired after working. I’ve read advice from various authors on the best time to write or how to schedule your writing time and found early morning hours work best for me. Sometimes I’ll feel an itch of motivation in the evenings and plug away, but for me, mornings are best. I’m focused, alert and ready to go. I’m still not finished outlining, but struggling to ignore the critical voice in my ear that sometimes distracts me with “When are you ever going to start revisions?” “How long is this going to take?”

I’ve had moments of anxiety and depression sneak up, paralyzing my outlining process. I haven’t written anything since last year. As I cut and paste from chapters here and there, I feel as if I’m creating a mood book project, and the progress feels endless. Yet, I try staying focused and once the outlining is complete. I’m hoping the revisions and editing will flow like an abundance of trout swimming down a river ready to be caught by those avid anglers.

Where I Find Inspiration and Motivation

I’ve been listening to a lot of inspirational speakers the past few months like Mel Robbins, Tony Robbins, Louise Hay, Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle on everything. Focus, Work Flow, Procrastination, Healthy Habits, How to Get Unstuck, Commitment, Manifesting and Intentions. When I watched a video Mel Robbins aired about how she was supposed to be working on editing her manuscript and had 24 hours to get it back to her publisher and spent the day cleaning out her refrigerator including cleaning the shelves, I laughed and felt relief. As a working writer, she, without shame, showcased her self-sabotage on video, assuring every one, “We all do it.” And the reason why we do it, is because of stress and uncertainty. It happens. I learned that’s what my problem is. I’d plan the day, but when I had that freed up time to write, I was tired from the stress of finishing my work tasks and found reasons to do other things. My mind would periodically wander into the dreaded “doubt” vault of “Will this ever get published after I’m done?” “Should I keep doing this?” It was such a relief to see her go through similar feelings and situations. She also noted that working on something hard is stressful. Outlining is hard when you didn’t do it first + stress = No outlining or writing X finding other non-stressful things to do = feeling defeated and unmotivated. Ugh.

I’ve also read about practicing mindfulness. Being mindful in what I do presently by writing my goals, dreams and gratitude daily, will reduce stress and avoidance when there’s a daily reminder of intentions. I also realized I needed to get back to meditating. Prior to working full-time, I meditated every day in the early morning and met with two other writers on Google Chats, about two hours later for accountability. I was clear, focused and ready to work. I cranked out a lot of pages during this time, but my writing partners fell off when I started full-time work again. I try focusing on steady progression, but it’s not easy sometimes. Funny how hearing other people on YouTube tell us what we already know, seems the trigger for action. However, their personal insight, solutions and suggestions for establishing better habits in order to break the bad ones or untraining yourself out of sabotaging patterns is the reassurance I need in breaking out of my own stubborn, lazy mold and get off the never ending, going nowhere carousel ride that’s been running in circles so fast I couldn’t jump off. I need to incorporate meditation back into my life since this was conducive to calming my mind and writing with clarity.

The more I listen to these snippets of advice and give myself permission to attain a dream methodically, patiently and learn to applaud the work I have accomplished, the stress diminishes and the anxiety I feel (which is my biggest creative process soul crusher) of wasting time, ebbs away. I’m also a freelance photographer and found getting out of the house and doing some photo shoots helped my creative flow on an external level. My mind feels reset, reprogrammed. It’s not easy to practice. It takes time to develop healthier habits in your creative process that works and remind yourself things take time.

The positive of the writing coach debacle was planning and goal setting and not berating yourself if you were struggling, frustrated or couldn’t meet those goals. We were on timelines, meeting online weekly with a small group of writers reviewing our goals. I’m highly motivated by deadlines or appointments when meeting with people in general. This is what helped me finish my first draft. We also engaged in free-write time, breaking away from our WIP (Work In Progress) and sharing. These sessions and speaking candidly with other writers about our free write shorts, invoked a sense of inspiration. We’d have an hour of open write time online too and one facilitator had us take six deep breaths before we broke into a writing session enabling me to clear my mind and crank out 1200 words in an hour. They were blown away. This was effective. A shift in my perspective, helped remind me I was doing this before and though the writer coach circumstance didn’t transpire in the way I hoped, it reinforced habits I know I can develop again.

I am still involved with a writing group that meets weekly, and once a month submissions are good accountability to write and gain feedback, but I’m still hoping to find a couple of other writers who can commit to a daily routine as I had last time. Unfortunately, the two writers I worked with found others they could write with, but I don’t allow that to deflate my goals.

What’s the plan now

This part is hard and stressful too haha. Not going to lie. I’m one of those, that after hearing a great TED talk or watching a YouTube video about empowerment and motivation, I’m high fiving myself or fist pumping with the song “Eye of the Tiger” playing in my head, saying yes, yes I can do this, only to fall off the boat, watching the moment sail down the sea. I guess after writing this (see I did write something even if it wasn’t related to my novel, but still…) I learned that repetitive action works best for me. Listening to these daily inspirational videos and podcasts, writing those daily goals, ambitions, intentions and redeveloping a writing schedule are going to be substantially beneficial in order to complete my outline and crank out my revisions.

And with that note, I am grateful for the full-time job as it pays my bills, gas and food. I am grateful for the home I’ve built with my husband, especially since we’ve been empty nesters for quite some time. I am grateful for the loving support and patience my husband bestows, waiting in the wings to watch my dream of becoming a published author and working writer come true. I am grateful for the people I’ve met and encountered and continue to meet during my writing journey and the places I’ve gone to network and learn from other writers. I am grateful for my health, family and friends and most of all I’m grateful for finishing my first draft. Even though the outlining is taking forever. I know it will come full circle. I will be a full-time writer. I will be a published writer. I will be traveling with my husband to our bucket-list destinations. I will buy that dream mountain home in Grand Lake where I see friends and family hanging out, having a great time and feel the love in my heart open with an abundance of gratitude to the universe for these opportunities once they happen, because they will. Reprogram your mindset, reprogram your habits and behavior.

I plan on:

Meditating before I write to relax my body and mind.

Writing down my goals, dreams and gratitude DAILY.

Listening to my inspirational speakers daily.

Spending quality time with my family and friends on my non-writing days.

Sleeping for 7-8 hours. Sleep is crucial. As we grow older, our bodies need it more than ever.

Working through the second part of my outline. I finished the first part, yay!

Writing the shit out of these revisions and edit like a rock star.

When opportunity knocks and I open the door of pursuits that will be aligned with my goals. I will be thankful and hold gratitude in my heart for the JOB that paid my bills, even though the job itself was never my passion and hope the person who comes in as I shut the door behind me will feel as much gratitude for the new opportunity they’re given.

Just writing this has got me inspired and motivated!

Keep those dreams alive people!

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