Take Time to Think

25 Sep

These past few weeks have been some of the least self-centered ones I’ve ever experienced—having a helpless little human who’s dependent on you will do that, apparently—yet, oddly, I find myself feeling more and more motivated to write, and even more inspired than before to achieve the goals I’ve set.

This doesn’t mean I’ve had much time to actually work on my projects lately…but, in a weird way, the whole not-being-able-to-work-on-things thing is actually contributing to my motivation!

What I have had time to do, lately, is THINK.

My sweet baby eats a lot—especially these past few days, thanks to a horrible, sleep-stealing growth spurt. Now, sometimes, I can manage to hold a book or navigate the Internet while feeding him…but not always. Most of the time, I’m just sitting there chilling and/or attempting to not fall asleep while he eats.

In those crazy-early morning hours, my thoughts keep drifting to my three works-in-progress (and, as if I don’t have enough ideas begging me to write them, my thoughts are also hovering around a fresh new idea). All this extra time spent dwelling on these stories has me feeling super-motivated to work on them!

Things are starting to settle down a little bit around here, thank goodness. Naps are getting longer, feedings are starting to space out a little bit, we’re (FINALLY) getting more sleep, and we’re starting to become more comfortable in our new roles as parents. All of this, plus my chomping-at-the-bit-to-get-back-to-work motivation, has me VERY EXCITED. Even the mere fact that I have time to write this blog post makes me hopeful that I’ll have the time and focus to work on my manuscripts again sometime in the near future!

All that to say, if you find yourself in need of a motivation boost, try this:

  • PERMISSION. Give yourself permission to take a break from your work, for a set period of time (perhaps a week or two).
  • MARK THE DATE. Set a get-back-to-work date that falls at the end of that break.
  • TIE UP YOUR HANDS. Twice a day, every day during your break, take an hour to do something mindless in a quiet room where your hands are occupied (like knitting, for example…or feeding a baby). Do not let yourself write anything, not even notes.
  • FOCUS. During this time, just THINK. Think about your project(s), your characters, your stories, your big-picture goals. Don’t act on your thoughts yet.
  • THE YOU-CAN’T-HAVE-IT! EFFECT. When someone says you’re not allowed to eat something (like cheesecake when you’re on a diet, or wine when you’re pregnant), what happens? ALL you want to do is eat that thing, right? Same concept here. If you tell yourself you aren’t allowed to work, yet you spend ten to twenty hours over those weeks doing nothing but get excited about your project, it stands to reason that you’ll be itching to get back to it when the break is over. Plus, dwelling on ideas before acting on them is beneficial in and of itself.
  • EXECUTE. So, the day after your break ends: WRITE. Write down all the notes that happened to stick with you over this period of time—the good ideas will stick, the junk will be lost forever. Make outlines, or note cards, or character sketches. Dive into the nebulous new scenes that have been floating around in your head.
  • FINISH STRONG. Don’t just be a project starter—commit to being a project FINISHER. Anyone can start a project, but seeing it through to the end? Much more difficult.
Happy reading and writing and creating to all of you!

6 Responses to “Take Time to Think”

  1. Alyson Greene (@AlysonCGreene) Sunday / 25 September 11 at 11:11 am #

    Great post! Very helpful advice. I have the opposite problem right now. I have a deadline and every day I know I NEED to write, so I just don’t want to.

    • Kayla Olson Sunday / 25 September 11 at 6:44 pm #

      Oh, Alyson!! Yeah, I should probably write a disclaimer that says, “These tips are useless if you’re on a deadline…” 😉 Good luck with your project! I hope you find the motivation you need to finish perfectly on schedule!

  2. Liza Kane Sunday / 25 September 11 at 12:08 pm #

    Love this! I think I use every one of those tips to keep me on track for WIP2. I’m so happy that things are settling down for you, and I love hearing about the cozy-ness of your life with new James-baby ^_^

    • Kayla Olson Sunday / 25 September 11 at 6:48 pm #

      Thanks, Liza! Hopefully I’ll have some new words to send you sooooon… 😉 Cozy is a good word for life these days. My entire routine and everything I’m used to is completely upside-down right now, but (at the risk of sounding all schmaltzy mommy blogger) James is so worth it. 🙂

  3. Sierra Gardner Monday / 3 October 11 at 10:29 pm #

    Great post Kayla! I’m not sure I’ve said this yet but congrats!! So excited for you!

  4. D.B. Smyth Wednesday / 5 October 11 at 9:22 am #

    Thanks, Kayla! I love your list… so very helpful! Love the idea of keeping my hands busy in a non-writing activity while my brain focuses on the project. I think it’ll help me break through some recent walls. You rock!

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