A case in point: Last fall I had a three-month plan I was very excited about. I was going to continue working on the never-ending book through October and November, then spend December with FlashNaNo, during which you write a piece of flash fiction every day for a month. I'd done it the year before, and while I didn't do a piece a day, I did end up with nine pieces, three of which ended up as published humor. I was looking forward to working on short work I could dip in and out of during a holiday month that is usually rough for me.
Imagine my disappointment, then, when I realized that FlashNaNo is in November, like National Novel Writing Month. To take part I would have to work on the book-length project in October, do FlashNaNo, then go back to the book-length project in December. That meant transitioning in and out of an in-depth work, which I do not find easy, and trying to keep my mind in a book world while dealing with holiday and family events.
The end of the year was going to suck.
Then I realized there are no time management police where I work. I could just do my own personal FlashNaNo in December, as I'd planned, after the official one was over.
Which was what I did.
It ended up being far more successful than the one I did the year before. Since I wasn't following the rules for time, I didn't follow other rules, either. I worked on something different each day, but I didn't follow any prompts or necessarily start new work. Sometimes I pulled projects out from all over my hard drive and journal. I didn't limit myself to fiction. I also did essays, memoir, and humor. Because I was requiring so little of myself, I could do something every day, including weekends when I don't usually work. I didn't worry about completing anything, just starting or revising. My plan was to draw from the Flash2021 folder for writing projects in 2022.
Which is what happened. Three of the pieces I worked on in December have been published, a fourth has been accepted, and a fifth has been submitted. It was the most professionally productive December I've ever had. Decembers now on will be laid back generating months, getting work ready for the next year.
Can I apply this thought to other situations? I think so.
- Can't/don't want to go to a conference? What were you going to do there? Create a reading list/writing plan related to the workshops you would have taken and work where and when you can.
- Missed a reading/book launch? Read the books involved when it works for you, along with reviews and author interviews.
- DIY writing retreats are all about creating your own experience when you can't conform to the schedule someone else created.