Well. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written here.
That wasn’t intentional. There was no planned hiatus, no purposeful break. One month just passed into the next, and now here we are, almost a year later.
It’s been a weird year, one that re-highlighted the importance of priorities—and the fact that if you do prioritize, you can get shit done. But by necessity, prioritizing means that other things fall by the wayside.
The big news: we’re expecting a baby boy…well, pretty much any day now. So what did I do this year? “I’ve been pregnant” sums it up. Maybe for other women it’s not this way, but for me, pregnancy has been an all-consuming force. And no, not because I’ve been ooing and aahing over baby clothes and nursery items. Because my body—and its needs—were completely taken over by another being. Because for the first four months, I was nauseous and exhausted all. the. time. Because when you have a firm, looming deadline—baby’s due date—you focus on what you really want to get done.
For me, that came down to three things:
- Work. When you’re a freelancer, the hustle never stops, and this year was a busy one. Which is great! Although it was also difficult when I was physically feeling my worst.
- Working out. Some days, even fitting in a 30-minute walk was daunting. But I managed to stay on track, for the most part.
- Writing. “But wait,” you say. “You just admitted you haven’t written here in almost a year!” Yes, ’tis true. That’s because my writing energy went elsewhere.
In November of last year, I started writing a new book. The manuscript I finished in 2017 has been slowly (sloooowly) making the rounds with agents—a process I find frustrating because it takes a long time and is largely out of my control. So I decided I needed a creative project that was in my control. And I’d had this book idea tumbling around in my head for a while, so….
When I got pregnant, the goal became clear: finish the first draft of this new book before the baby arrived. Considering it took me five years to finish the first draft of my last book, this was a slightly ambitious goal.
But I did it. Last week, I finished the first draft. Is it a hot mess? Oh, most assuredly. But that’s not the point. The roots, the bones of the story are laid out. It’ll get fixed in the second draft. (Whenever that happens.)
How was I able to finish this book so much faster than the last?
- I prioritized. I didn’t write anything else. I didn’t write here, I didn’t work on short stories. I poured all my writing energy into this project.
- I followed the approach laid out in The 90-Day Novel, a book with an incredibly cheesy cover that—for me—actually worked. Clearly, it took me longer than 90 days to finish. But one year is a hell of a lot better than five.
- This time around, I started with an outline (created using the method in The 90-Day Novel). With my last book, I didn’t create an outline until I was halfway through the first draft and utterly, completely stuck. Lesson learned! START WITH AN OUTLINE, FUTURE SELF.
(Hopefully, at some point, I’ll write a more in-depth post about The 90-Day Novel and how it worked for me. But in the meantime, if you’re a writer and struggling to find a good process, I encourage you to check it out.)
It’s funny, when I look back on the year, it feels like I didn’t really do anything. We didn’t travel. There weren’t many adventures. Mostly, I stayed home. But then I look at my ridiculously round stomach or the manuscript sitting on my desktop and think, “Oh right. That’s where the year went.” Some areas of our lives must be quiet in order for others to shine.