Today was a good writing day.
Not necessarily because I did any good writing.
It was the kind of day, which, at the end of it, left me feeling as if I would actually make progress on my book, if only I could string a few more of these good writing days together.
Every writer is different in their approach to writing. There are all sorts of bits of advice floating around the internet, everything from "Write in bed" (which I was once a fan of, but now cannot accomplish because I fall asleep) to "Treat it like a job." I've tried both approaches. I've tried writing in pyjamas and I've tried writing in a pencil skirt and high heels. The truth is, all of that is just another way of procrastinating. And in all projects, there comes a time when the only way to get the book written is to do the work.
I typically have one day a week at the moment which is my Writing Day, and I am fiercely protective of it in the sense that I don't make social engagements on this day. I commit to being at home. I commit to writing, or to doing writing related tasks like admin or blogging or research. Sometimes this goes well. Other times, it does not, and in very rare scenarios, these days end with me curled in a ball in the foetal position attempting to cram an entire block of chocolate into my mouth at once. Writing is the most fickle of all mistresses. But the longer I do this, the more I realise that it's not worthwhile to sit around and wait for the muse to show up. In fact, if you make a habit of this, of spending your time doing other things until the mood strikes you, the mood will strike you less and less. Writing begets more writing. Doing writing related things begets more writing. Talking to other writers will even occasionally beget more writing. (Sidebar, I really like the word 'beget' right now, though my red squiggly line is trying to tell me that it isn't really a word.)
While I only managed about a thousand words today towards my goal of ninety thousand (and I want to be at the halfway point by the end of this month), today what I accomplished were two really important things.
1) I started to feel like I was in control of my research and not that it was in control of me.
2) I kickstarted my brain into living in the world of the novel again and carried small thoughts about my WIP with me wherever I went.
I think the way that, as writers, we think about our work is a really key part of the process. If we think that we can get away with procrastinating the whole way through, odds are in today's publishing climate, we'll end up being writers in name only. A good work ethic is just as important to an aspiring novelist as it is to any other kind of job.
You have to set your own writerly parameters, and the only boss you have to answer to is yourself, but likewise, you'll be letting yourself down if you don't do the work.
With this in mind, perhaps tomorrow will be a good writing day too.