Tracking the Tempest Revisions Diary: Day 6

Hi ya’ll. Yesterday  was a big ole waste of time, in that I didn’t really get much writing done. I got a lot of cutting and pasting done, but nothing was really accomplished. I did, however, do a bunch of shit I needed to do in the rest of my life. Which, if I’m honest, was a good thing. 

Everyone always asks me “how much do you write a day,” and the answer is, “however much I can write.” Some days are outrageous. I had one day, in Edinburgh, when I was finishing up Tempest Rising, where I wrote, solid, for like 8 hours. I parked myself at the Bean Scene in Leith, which I called my “office,” and I just wrote the whole ending. Don’t get me wrong, it sucked, and needed crazy amounts of revisions, but I got it out.

On equally rare days I write for an hour, tops. In that hour I can sometimes write a whole chapter, sometimes two paragraphs.

Some really, really rare days I don’t write at all. I edit, or I take a day off to grow fresh eyes so I can actually see what I’ve done rather than what I think I’ve done.

I’ve been doing this for a really long time, now. Not fiction writing, obviously, but writing to various deadlines and working under my own steam to get various projects accomplished. I know when I’m doing what I should be doing, I know when I’m dicking around, and I know when I need a day off. In other words, I know my writerly rhythms: I know my insecurities and my compulsions. I know the little devil inside of me that urges me to slack off and the little angel that would burn me out if I let her take over. I know how I work. So, I knew that yesterday I just wasn’t going to get anything done. Not because I couldn’t, but because I just wasn’t going to. I have all this stuff coming up that is exciting, and instead of trying to ignore it and working at half-intellect, I just called it a day and turned my attention from writing to organizing my upcoming vacations.

I sorted all that stuff out, and now I have one less excuse to procrastinate. I also found myself a writing buddy and we made an appointment to meet, today, so that I have even fewer reasons to procrastinate.

But I’m not sweating the day off. I see on Twitter, everyday, people self-flagellating because they didn’t get what they wanted to get done. Sometimes I AM that person. But, the fact is that we can only do what we can do, in a given moment. Writing isn’t like turning on the faucet. There are days it feels like that, but there are days when it feels like the well has dried up. 

What I try to do is be responsive to my own abilities on any given days. On days when the creative mojo is really flowing, I clear decks and just pound out as much as I can. On days when things are slower, I try to entice the mojo with some editing, and sometimes it appears and I end up having a great writing day. Some days the mojo just does not want to come, and so I make sure to sit down for at least an hour and do something, but I won’t push it past that. Instead, I do something else I’ve been needing to do, like clean my apartment. If I have more than one of these days in a row, on the third day I’ll do what I call “muscling through” the block. Which means just sitting down and writing, even though I know, or feel like, what I’m writing is shit. Oftentimes, it is shit, and all I’ve got is a skeleton either to flesh out or to excise and start anew. But normally muscling through means the block is gone for the next day, and sometimes I actually write really good stuff that I keep. This is often the case when what seemed to be writer’s block was actually the fact I had to write something challenging, and was balking at the pressure. 

If I have a streak of really good writing, I’ll also often make myself stop, for one day, and not look at anything. I’ll be a total non-writer for a day. I might not even read other people’s writing in a complete word-vacation. That’s just to clear the cobwebs out of my brainpan, so I can see what I’ve been doing with clear eyes. Otherwise I end up just seeing all the mental clutter – what I think I wrote, what I wished I wrote, what I almost wrote – rather than what I DID write.

Okay, that’s my process in a nutshell. And now I have to go to the gym, then go meet my new writing buddy so that we can rock out to our muse. 


2 thoughts on “Tracking the Tempest Revisions Diary: Day 6”

  1. Okay. I swear I'm not going to comment on every single diary entry. Unless I have a legitimate question.

    When you are revising a manuscript, as you are now, do you still write new fiction each day? Or is all your writing time right now spent revising Tracking the Tempest?

    I ask because my lucky writerly rabbit's foot is writing new fiction every day. I have this irrational fear that I'll lose my magic if I don't do this. The problem I've run into is being too mentally exhausted to make "good" revisions. Thus, I never get anything revised and nothing is ever ready to query.

    And I will make good on my promise. I really won't comment unless I have a question.

  2. Driftsmoke: I love your comments! Don't feel you have to curtail them, at all. That's what the comments section is there for. 🙂

    And I am OCD, so I do one thing at a time. That's not advice, at all. That's me admitting I'm crazy. So I put Legacy on the shelf till I get the edits done for Tracking. Okay, that's not entirely me being OCD. It's also because I'm doing a lot of substantial stuff to Tracking that will effect Legacy. I'm also trying to understand what I did "wrong" in my second book that I can learn from for my third.

    I think you should do whatever feels right for you, in this scenario. If you are someone who can juggle two projects, then juggle away! I know a lot of writers do.

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