There was a time when, like many folks starting out in life, I was struggling. Working multiple jobs, trying to get more education, fighting to keep the first home I had bought on my own. I was determined to hang on to the foothold I had on success and build on it, to do whatever it took. As part of that process, I developed what I now call my bottom line: what is/are the absolute minimum conditions I need to get me through the day. For me, those were: a clean head of hair and a full tank of gas. If I could secure those two things, I could handle whatever I needed to, whatever the day demanded.
Now I’m a writer. I need a new bottom line. What is the bare minimum I need to allow me, to encourage me, to make progress on whatever project I have at hand? At this point, here’s what I believe I need: first, one, or at least one, clear, concrete, next step. And two, some word or sign of encouragement from a friend or my critique partner. Sometimes I think I’m a wimp for needing that second requirement. Heck, shouldn’t I have the inner fortitude, the self-confidence, the chutzpah, stubbornness, whatever you call it, to do it on my own? Maybe I should, but I don’t. I accept that and find ways to secure that positive input. And if I don’t have an initial first step in mind, I end up floundering around for too long.
Yesterday, my one clear step was finding out from Bowker why I couldn’t buy ISBNs online. (Turns out their online ordering system was down and I had to print forms, fill them out and fax them in.) My other need was filled by a thumbs up from my CP on my latest creation. So, today, off it went. As so often happens, once I get that first step out of the way, it leads to more steps. Getting the forms off to Bowker and my CP’s “yes” vote yesterday freed me up to blog today, which will free me up to work on the next WIP. So, that’s my take. Now, what’s your bottom line?
Interesting idea, Lida. Like you, I have two minimum conditions, and they’ve remained the same for quite a while now. One is to walk right after I have my coffee and orange juice every morning, and the other is to write 1,000 words in my WIP, unless it’s done and I need to edit–then I have to edit for at least one hour. The rest of my day always goes better if I simply get those two things finished first.
Hi, Jan, somehow I missed this comment earlier. Thanks for sharing your “must-haves.” It’s always interesting to hear what works for other writers, esp. when it’s something that I think might improve my own performance. I very much agree that the rest of the day goes better if I can get some work out of the way first thing. Again, thanks for reading and commenting. Lida