Last weekend I went to the Annual NJSCBWI conference. A great GREAT writer's conference every year, this year it was extra-special. First of all our Regional Advisor, Kathy Temean, was stepping down. Next, it was my first year on faculty (teaching a workshop on Worldbuilding in Fantasy. If you missed it, you can access the wiki I made for it on Wikispaces.).
This year we had two awesome keynote speakers. Fabulous illustrator and writer Dan Yaccarino told us about saying 'yes! - basically build your bridges and your ins in this industry wherever they present themselves, and be ready and willing to stretch yourself to get to that next place in your career if you need to. A lot of great opportunities/challenges have come his way, and he's gotten to where he is by always saying YES! (I don't think he said Yes to the Dress, however.)
Then our closing keynote speaker was Kate diCamillo. I brought my hardcover copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane from home. It was always one of my favorite books, and now that it's signed it's a real treasure. Anyway, Kate told us about her journey to becoming a writer, how she said for years she was going to do it, but it was always 'later'. That is one thing I think a lot of people do -- always talk about it and come up with a million excuses why they can't do it today. That's been MY problem lately. It's easier to NOT write than write, because there are a million things to do, and with finishing grad school and working full time, I've been doing a lot of "I'll do it later"- ing myself.
But more importantly, Kate said she writes two pages a day. Just two pages. The woman who wrote Because of Winn-Dixie, and The Tale of Despereaux, and my beloved Edward Tulane, writes just two pages a day (apparently much to the chagrin of her agent...). She adheres to this rigidly, stopping at the end of those two pages.
Some people I know have a time limit, like 2 hours. Problem is, you can spend two hours a day staring at the screen and never finish a single manuscript. Two pages may take you 30 minutes, if you're feeling the story, or all day if you're stuck. But there it is, a commitment to just two pages every day.
And I thought, I used to do that. I used to have a goal of a mere 500 words a day, which is about two pages, give or take. But then I got too busy and decided to put writing aside for a few months so I could concentrate on my grad school work. But that's over for the summer -- so what's my excuse now?
So I am going to make a new goal. Just two pages. Some days it may be two pages on three different projects, but there will be two new pages every day this summer. And into the fall. And by the end of the year, that will be a lot of pages.