Right, so, about three weeks ago I put up a post about making time for the business of creating. At the time it seemed like a totally achievable, realistic plan; just spend one of my days off paid work to work on writing.
Seems simple, except that it doesn’t work.
A full day working from home, for me, is awful. I can get probably four hours of productive work done in the morning, but coming back to it after lunch – NOPE.
I find myself hard pressed to clear a whole day for writing. I come up with excuses, other stuff I have to do immediately, like go to the gym, or get coffee with someone, or visit a friend. Even read a book or stare into space.
Meiki, a friend of mine, talks about having a ‘people bath’ every day. For extroverts, or even partial extroverts, having conversations and interactions with other real life humans (online doesn’t count) is super important to motivation and happiness. For Meiki, that means bathing in the presence of other humans for a minimum period of time every day.
I am a pretty extroverted person. I love a good old chat, I like meeting new people, and nurturing friendships. So sitting on my own, at home, typing, for a whole day, is painful. Especially if my housemates aren’t home. I need alone time too, but a daily dose of people is definitely required.
I feel a revision of the goal is in order, just in time for New Year’s resolutions, too! At the moment I have three days per week of paid employment, so that means I have two weekdays available for sitting down and writing. I’m going to try using the mornings or evenings of both days to work on writing and schedule other stuff in the afternoons. Stuff like exercise, catching up with friends, generally getting out into the world.
The other road block that’s coming up is editing. I have a project from last year, my NaNoWriMo for 2014, which needs some serious rewriting. The only problem is actually starting it – it’s daunting to open up a hundred-odd page document and start fiddling. I suppose, if I’m honest, I’ve never really rewritten any long stuff. It feels like a really big task and I can’t quite work out where to start.
What I need to do is re-read the manuscript and work out what areas need the most attention and then just do one chapter at a time. Break it down into bite sized chunks which don’t seem so overwhelming.
The new plan for 2016, then, will be two chunks of three or four hours each week for writing. One for editing, and one for writing new stuff for competitions and magazines and blogs and stuff.
Next week I’m going to do a review of my 2015 goals and I’ll also be writing another New Years resolutions/goal type post too.
I hope you all have a lovely festive period, if you celebrate Christmas, I hope it’s full of delicious food, laughter, and love, and minimal bickering. And actually if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have lots of food, laughter and love and not too much bickering.
Hey Fleur, I think you’re being a little bit hard on yourself. You don’t need to feel guilty if you use your writing time on other things that you enjoy, such as socialising. I used to feel guilty about that sort of stuff too, before I realised how important socialising was for my mental health.
I know a lot of writers who put writing first, before relationships and work. I’m not that kind of writer; I believe life stuff is more important (and often more interesting). To quote Leonard Cohen: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
I find that the writing happens when it needs to. I will have an overwhelming urge to ‘get something out’ and no matter where I am – at a nightclub or at work – I will jot down a note to remind myself of that feeling. Then it’s easier to find the motivation to spend a few hours of solitary time the next day working on it, because there’s some momentum behind it. All of my best work has come about this way — I write down notes when I’m half asleep (/drunk) and then take this raw inspiration and craft it into something more sophisticated the next day.
I also actually don’t think there’s so much difference between writing poetry and prose, because I feel like good prose should also come from this place of inspired momentum. Obviously you will have days where you’re feeling uninspired, but then the momentum you’ve built up by that stage should be enough to push the project forwards to completion.
If you’re not enjoying the process of writing, chances are your readers will not enjoy reading it. It’s a simple truth it took me way too long to figure out. Yes writing is hard work, but it’s a labour of love, as they say. What you’re aiming for is that flow state, where you lose track of time completely.
Also, even though I’m doing a doctorate, I still take weeks off from writing to immerse myself in life stuff. It’s really important, otherwise you burn out.
Sorry if any of this comes across as harsh, it wasn’t my intention. I just want you to be happy babe.
Hey! Thanks for the encouragement! I am a little surprised that I came across as hard on myself, when I was writing this I was like, well, that’s not working, what can I do to be flexible? There was no self-blame in my head. I feel like it’s an evolving process for me, I haven’t been studying for a while, and I still don’t have a stable job, but I’m sort of trying to work out a routine that’s going to suit me.
You’re right, of course, that we have to allow life to happen, otherwise what will we write about? But I do need to be a bit more disciplined with myself about editing, I think. I’m the worst at that!
Okay good I’m glad you’re being nice to yourself. I’m a bit of a hypocrite to be preaching the virtues of going easy on oneself, but y’know. I’m a lot better than I used to be.
Editing can be really engrossing once you get into it. It becomes a really intuitive process. Poetry is really entirely about editing — because the word count is so low. You have to interrogate every single line, and then every single word within every single line. It gets incredibly meta. It’s kind of like you shine a spotlight on a word and say “You! Justify your appearance in this poem!” Brutal lol.
THIS IS POETRY! *chest kick*
Hopefully I’ll find the groove in editing but it’s just so long and I don’t know where to start and yeah. Being nice to yourself takes practice though!