A popular post from October 2008
I am currently in a slump--everything I write is trash, just sitting down to write fills me with annoyance, and I look toward my future and wonder if writing is what I really want to do. Why not choose something easier, like rocket science or discovering the ruins of ancient civilizations of the sixth century.
Unfortunately, this is not an unfamiliar location for me to find myself in. I tend to wander into this forsaken wilderness with every book I write, but I seem to be staying for a longer visit this time around. Probably because I have a deadline. Murphy's law of writing says that if you have a deadline, you will find yourself blocked.
So, I've tried a hundred things to solve this. I've forced myself to write, I've rewritten my opening chapter eight times, I've stopped writing all together and cleaned out closets and bedrooms, even the BARN (and if you'd seen my barn you would know that cleaning it had to be an act of desperation). I've immersed myself in other people's books, baked relentlessly, watched all kinds of TV, caught up on several projects and am currently trying to teach myself how to crochet. I do these things in hopes of clearing my mind, emptying out my to-do list, and distracting myself from the story so as to create enough distance that my muse can come back and help me with this story. So far, nothing has worked. Not one single thing. Every word I have written feels as if it were scraped from my skin and I feel raw and anxious about what I have not done.
In hopes of healing myself, I turned to my collection of writing books, looking for inspiration. I've read and re-read some great advice. The other day I picked up another one of these books and found a chapter about finding your best time to write. I thought that would be good for me--what if my best time to write was at 1:00 every afternoon, which is about three hours after I've given up for the day!
The author explained how she had to really buckle down and go inside herself to figure out the best time for her to write. She explained how this is a very personal thing for every author, that it would be different for everyone. I agree with this. She said how some authors do great with a set routine, other's need to change locations to keep things fresh, still others needed to write in long chunks of time. All of this made sense to me. I know many authors and not one of them writes exactly the same way.
She had me right there with her until she got to this part:
"After this introspection I found that for me, I write best first thing in the morning (me too), after I've had a full night's sleep (ummm) and allowed my body to wake up when it wants to (bodies do that?). I find that my mind is fresher before I've done anything else (ya think?), that the ideas flow, that my critical side hasn't yet caught on to what I'm doing (there's my problem right there), and the words I put down are exactly the words my book needs. Once I've written for two hours without distraction (I now hate this woman) I'm then free to accomplish the other things I need to do in a day."
Just to punish myself further I read another chapter where she talked about hitting a block and all she wanted to do was take a nap, so she did--for TWO days. "Doing absolutely nothing, allowing my brain to turn to mush relieved me of the stress and worry that was standing in my way. When I was sufficiently rested I was ready to put those words on the page again."
I stopped reading.
I would love to wake up when my body wanted to and write for two uninterrupted hours. I would love to stay in bed for two days and allow my brain to turn to mush. However, that's not the fantasy world I live in. I'm up every day at 5:00 (my body would sleep till nine in a perfect world)--and things are chaotic until my youngest goes to school at 8:30. Then I go running, then I shower, do laundry, run errands, clean the house, and do the other 1000 things needed of me. I'm very lucky in that I don't have a job outside of the house and all my children are in school, and yet I STILL don't find two hours of uninterrupted time to get my writing done.
I'm not exactly sure what the intent of my post is, but in hopes to tie it into my title, let me just say this. Every writer is different and while some will work well with routine (I have in the past) others will feel stifled with it. While some of us have ideas pouring out our fingertips, others will have to bang their head against the wall in order to crack out one mediocre thought. I've been all of these people over the years I have written and as soon as I seem to figure myself out, I find myself at complete odds with the way I've done things in the past. Right now, my only goal is to keep writing. I'm learning, again, to roll with it, that creativity isn't stored in a box in my closet and that every story has it's own set of challenges (whether it's the story itself or family situations).
Amid all the writer's angst I might find myself drowning in, I don't have the option of waking up when my body feels rested, nor of taking a nap for two days. I have to find a way to fit the words I string together into the spaces of my family, my home and my obligations. I will not be 'owned' by this muse of mine and although I feel that writing is part of who I am and how I've grown, I will not become a slave to it and in the process sentence all my relationships to the same type of servitude. I am a writer, but being a writer is only part of my make-up. Therefore, I simply have to find a way to make it work. I've done it before, and I'll do it again one way or another.
One day I will be able to find my 'best' time to write every day. One day I will have the freedom to make that a priority--and perhaps that's what the author of this book did--maybe she wasn't trying to write and raise a family at the same time. But today, I have carpool and dinner, bills to pay and socks to wash. With a little luck, I'll fit some words within the spaces.