Are You Giving Your Writing 110%? I Know I’m Not…

I was watching an old episode of Oprah recently (one devoted disciple of The Big O, right here) when something one of her guests said struck me. The episode was about dream jobs, and one of the dream job holders was head of design for American clothing company JCrew. When Oprah asked her what advice she’d give to anyone looking to bag their dream job, she said two things: 1) do what you love and 2) always give 110% no matter what it is you’re doing, whether it be making coffee for half the office or being a CEO.

I’d give anything to be a published novelist, but am I giving everything to it right now? In theory, yes. After all I do this full-time, and I’ve pretty much pressed pause on everything else in my life – traveling, friends, pursuing John Mayer – while I try to make it happen. But watching that Oprah show I realized that on a day-to-day basis, I’m not giving 110%. Far from it, in fact. On a great day I’m giving about ninety, while an average effort is probably in the 40-70% zone by my estimation. Yes, sometimes I work really hard or put in long hours, but that’s more of an energy thing. I feel tired at the end of the day because my bum’s been in a seat and my fingers have been furiously tapping away on my Mac’s keys, and my brain aches because I’ve been using it, but am I really working at such a level that I can claim it’s not only my maximum, but a little bit above it? Am I ever really pushing myself?

And so for the month of November I’m going to do 5 things that I think will go some way to increasing my effort percentage:

  1. I’m going to do NaNoWriMo, the 50,000 words being part of The Second Novel: First Draft
  2. I’m going to write 500 words of a non-fiction side project every weekday to see if there’s anything there
  3. I’m going to blog at least three times a week without fail
  4. I’m going to schedule tweets linking to my blog posts during the night, to see if I can meet new Twitter peeps in different time zones and/or up my blog hits (let’s be honest!)
  5. I’m going to clear my To Read list (the non-fiction anyway; I don’t read novels while I write my own).

So what about you? What can YOU do to up your effort percentage?

(P.S. Whether or not such a thing as 110% effort exists is an argument for another day, okay guys? Thanks.)

7 thoughts on “Are You Giving Your Writing 110%? I Know I’m Not…

  1. Justin Kinnear says:

    Catherine,
    like magic you have said exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks for sharing this thought.
    Justin

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      While I appreciate being called an angel (!!) Nettie, I fear this may be a recipe for disaster! I am the procrastination queen. (I’m doing it right now in fact – I’m supposed to be putting on enough war paint to go out into the world but instead I’m responding to blog comments!) I know the last time I tried NaNoWriMo in 2007 I think it was I failed miserably about two days in, so I’m hoping this year the fact that I actually do need to write (and finish!) another novel and my NaNo writing buddies will spur me on to the finish line. You’re allowed shout at me if I don’t! ;-D

  2. Christy says:

    I highly recommend “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield for procrastination butt-kicking! You cam get hardcopy from Amazon or an ebook from… I think it was called Fastpencil.

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