How Not to Sabotage Yourself – M. B. Weston’s Writing Diary 08/03/16

Any work-from-home profession leaves the door wide open for self-sabotage. I’ve been plodding along, editing my Michael Lodestone urban-fantasy novella for the past week, and I’m pretty sure I’ve walked through that door a few times.

I’m sure I can list a few “do’s” when it comes to keeping a writing routine going, but this post I’m going to mention some “don’ts.” Unfortunately, I’m on an intimate basis with those…

Don’t assume you’ll rise to the occasion if the past begs to differ. This sounds horrible, but let me give you an example. Me: Of course I can wake up at 5:00am and jog, leaving me time at night to write. Reality: If my alarm clock is next to my bed where I can turn it off without standing up, 5:00am ain’t happening, leaving me to jog three miles at night around 9:00pm after our daily thunderstorms have passed through–meaning no writing. I know I can only get up at 5:00am if I put my alarm clock on my dresser, forcing me to stand up to turn it off. I have four decades of data to show it. Instead of assuming I’m going to be different and excercise self-control this time, I need to just go with how I work and move the alarm clock.

Don’t try to alter a routine that already works. I write at night. That’s when my brain turns on. This works for me. Trying to write in the morning doesn’t. (Jogging in the morning does, however, hence the alarm clock.) It really works better if I just go with what works instead of trying to do something different because some other author does something different.

Don’t mess with your body’s and mind’s pre-programming. I also take my showers at night. (When you live in south Florida, you shower at night. The humidity is so horrible here that you have no choice if you want to go to bed feeling clean.) For four long decades, my evening shower has been the very last thing I do before I go to bed. When I step into that shower, it sends a signal to my body and mind that it is time to sleep. This past week, I’ve tried to mess with the programming by showering before I started writing. Really. Bad. Choice. I seriously couldn’t get through a page without nodding off. Sometimes I didn’t even make it to the computer.

Writing is hard. It’s hard enough without me sabotaging myself with changes that are supposed to make me better but somehow make it worse. I’m a writer, Jim, not a superhero. This week’s lesson: work my routine around who I am instead of who I think I’m supposed to be.

How about you? Have any of you ever done something similar?

About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
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