Friday, July 16, 2010

What Do You Need?

I've been avoiding my manuscript for about five days now.

We move this way, my WIP and me, sometimes frantically together, stealing every extra moment to scribble (or type) in the quiet darkness. Then, for no real reason, five or six thousand words later, it's over. I'm done with it for a little while and it's lost in my life until, with a flash of embarrassment and shame, I realize I have neglected it for far too long.

I had a moment last night where I thought about double-clicking the file, and then I let the moment pass. What was wrong with me?

"I need a retreat," I said to myself. "That's what I need. Then I'll write every day."

Today, I worked from home and spent the majority of the day on the phone, pouring over budgets and planning work-related travel plans for the rest of the year. Through all of this, I could see 'my book' sitting on the computer desktop, waiting patiently.

"Not a retreat. A class, really," I thought again. "My MFA! Maybe I'll finally go DO that."

Tonight, I looked over curriculum's for MFA's online and realized that NO, I do not want to do that.

"Time alone!" my inner self shouted. "You never have time alone!"

And then I remembered that my children had been at sleep-away camp all week and now I'm totally out of excuses.

So what is it that I need?

I need to chill out.

I need to let it breathe. Let it relax. When I peek at my words a few days from now, I'll have a good perspective on what it needs, and I'll take care of that. Knowing me the way that I do, I will probably spend a few days correcting broken sentences, working on the outline, verifying some facts, and then I'll start again with new words, moving the whole thing forward again.

Instead of beating myself up for not writing 2,000 words a day (Stephen King says to do that! I should do that!), perhaps I just need to follow my own rhythm. And if that means writing like crazy for a week or so and then letting it marinate on its own with no help from me, then so-be-it. Maybe focusing on what it needs is better than focusing on what I think I need.

What about you? Do you write straight through from start to finish? Do you jump around, choosing certain scenes over others? Or are you bumbling along like me, in short bursts of creativity?

Let us know!


  1. Every book is different, because every book you write is born during a different season of your life.

    My first completed manuscript was written in three major bursts over about a year and a half. I wrote when I could.

    This one is steady and pretty quick so far ... because I can! It's a good season for writing.

    I typically write in bursts for a couple of days, too, then let things sit and marinate for a bit, even now on the steady schedule. Writing is a good part mental work -- as long as you eventually get it down on the page, it counts!

    Keep going.

  2. Susan,

    I'm very much like you - at least with the book I'm writing now. I've written a book in three months before and this one so far has taken five years. (In all fairness to myself I did not have a small child at home with the first one and did with this one.)

    Don't beat yourself up. You can force words but if you do they will sound forced. As you know, I can't set word count goals because it just doesn't work for me. Maybe with a different book it will...

  3. Anonymous17 July, 2010

    I think you need to find your rhythm. When I'm busy and stressed I'm not going to write well anyway so I might as well take the time out and think things over so that when I have the time I can be really ready to get back into the story.

  4. It's hard to find the right balance. Sometimes when I have no desire to write, I feel guilty and lazy, but perhaps is it more that I need an incubation time. As a mother and having a nearly full-time job, my time for writing is very short. If I do not feel ready to write, I read reference books and novels. I think a break on my balcony watching nature can also be part of the healing time!


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