Hi ya’ll. Yesterday Â 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.Â
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.Â
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.Â
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.Â