Returning from vacation to a raft of Stuff That Needed Doing Pronto, I finally found what I've been looking for throughout the month of June. My focus. Gone was the luxury of reading, even skimming, every Yahoogroups digest (a brief scan of the subjects assured me I wasn't missing much but the usual RWA summer squabbling), the temptation to mess around on Facebook or tweet (over it) or obsess about the success of failure of the new book, and the time to kill with inane, addictive Internet games (do you hear me, Bejeweled?). Seduced away from my work in progress by the siren call of an unfinished historical, I'd dallied with a retool of a proposal that will never see the light of day. But really, I know now, I was stalling, stuck on the Hard Work stage of a manuscript I'd hoped to finish early and harder, riskier work of a scary-looking new proposal.
The truth of it, a truth I need to stencil in block letters on my office wall, if not my forehead, is this: There Are No Shortcuts. None. There is only hard, sustained work, seasoned with the unpredictable, incomprehensible "luck" of opportunity.
Certainly, this is the advice I want to tell aspiring authors every time I give a talk or workshop, what I ought to tell the newly-contracted or self-published or wannabees who seek me out looking for a hand up, what I need to tell myself the ten times a day I get distracted.
The hard work part isn't a necessary evil; it's a joy, too, and the hum of one's creative machinery is the soundtrack of progress. It's the sweat equity component of success.
So what do you do to keep yourself on track? Do you find, as I do, a brief vacation can reforge your focus? Or have you found another strategy that serves you as well?