The last few months have not been exactly productive for me writing-wise. As most of you know, I’m working almost full time writing articles for the Examiner and Demand Studios, plus whatever other freelance work I can find. Coupled with the household and yard chores, the kids and life in general, my writing hasn’t just faltered, my sails hung limp and lifeless. Becalmed.
I’d committed to writing 500 words a day on my fantasy WIP. Quite honestly, I was lucky if I got to 500 a week. But it wasn’t just the amount of words I was getting on paper that bothered me. The enthusiasm was gone. There was no magic. I kept waiting for that moment when the characters breathe in for the first time and attempt to yank the reins out of my hands. For those times when I just couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with the banter between characters. Instead, I was forcing myself to sit down and stare at a blank screen day after day.
Everyone has a different method to the madness that is writing a manuscript. What works for me, may not work for you and visa-versa.
I tried a few tricks that usually work for me, closing my eyes and imagining the characters, listening to music that had originally inspired the characters to life, writing character profiles to figure out what made these people tick…. Not a puff of wind. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Empty sails.
So I stepped back and took a good look at my life, because, folks, publishing isn’t just my dream, writing brings me joy.
I write for at least 6 hours a day, mostly non-fiction, well, okay… all non-fiction. When I am done with my self-imposed, and bills-imposed, quota, I ‘let’ myself write fiction. My thinking was that since fiction is my heart, I will be motivated. Well, it didn’t work out that way. Quite frankly, after 6 hours of writing, I’m burnt out. I can’t string five words together in a way that would make even me want to read them.
So was this it? Did I put writing fiction aside until the kids were older, until I was more stable financially and could take the time to indulge my creative side? No, I didn’t consider it giving up, but facing life. The weekends are as busy, or busier than, the weekdays. Remember, no significant other, which leaves the yard work, the grocery shopping, car repair, the cleaning and the kid wrangling to me. And the fact was, in circumstances as they were, as hard as I stared at that blinking screen, I wasn’t writing anyway.
And yes, I know writing is a job, but it’s one that necessitates creativity. It’s also one that doesn’t pay well.
This was more than a dry spell, more than writers block. There was water all around me and not a drop to drink.
And please don’t tell me if you love something, you’ll find time to do it. I love to garden, but there have been times I’ve let my plants die because my priorities were else where. I love to bake, but throwing a batch of cookies together happens about once a month. Those detailed menus I love to put together after searching my cooking magazines? Haven’t seen one in about a year.
Writing is my heart’s joy, but paying the bills so I have a house over my head comes first.
So I took another look, this time at the finances, and decided that for one week, I’d put fiction writing first and see what happened. I ignored blogs, twitter-for the most part, promotion for my alter ego, etc. For one week, writing was my priority.
I sat down on the first Monday and read through the files that I’d collected. I was again reminded how strong these characters were and how much I liked them. I found some plot holes and called a friend to say, ‘Let me tell you about my book’, which is a method of getting the ball rolling I hadn’t yet used. After getting off the phone, I made copious notes and signed on to the bank to pay the bills. This was the first hiccup. I’d forgotten about a check, one not-so-little check, that rendered the account down to nothing. I admit, I faltered, but I could sense that excitement building for my story again, so I shuffled money around and reaffirmed my decision to write.
I kept a running total. When I started I had less than 17K. The first day, I wrote about 1K, the next, a little over 2. By Day three, I was writing 4K; yes, 4K. The total for the week, including deletions and time for research is over 16K. Yippee! I mean Yippee! But that’s not the best news. Last week I went back to ‘work’ but with a slight change. Before I get out the non-fiction, I’m giving myself one hour to write first thing.
Now, I’m not getting anything like 4 K done in that hour, but I am averaging between 800 and 1200 words–good words, damn-I-like-that words. Do-I-have-to-stop-now? kind of writing.
Do you feel that? It’s a breeze.
It feels good.
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