Contact Me

Email me
"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Writing Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Today I did something I haven't had a chance to do in a long time.  Get back to my novel.  The one that's been sitting in my electronic drawer for almost 4 years. 8-)

I have a trait which is both blessing and curse.  Perfectionism.  On the good side, it means I go the extra mile to be thorough.  On the bad side it means I will sit on a story for years tweaking until that elusive moment when it is finally "ready", whatever that means.

I also struggle with one particular piece of writing advice you will hear everybody and their brother repeat: "Write every day."

I have never been able to adhere to this philosophy.  I've tried to force myself to adhere to it.  I've even faked belief in it, convincing myself that there is no other way.  And in short spurts, a few months at a time every year or so, I *can* write every day.  But that is not the norm of my life.

There is not one of us who isn't extremely busy.  I lose nearly 12 hours a day either at work or trying to get to and from work.  I spend another 5+ hours a day on school as I try to shift career direction.  And on top of that I have to prepare healthy meals, run errands, attempt some small amount of exercise and small amount of sleep.  There is no room in that type of schedule for "write every day."

But I find great benefit in NOT writing every day.  My life has taken a significant shift. Being utterly desperate to change career gears, I'm switching from a lifetime business major to a science major, which requires every bit of focus and attention I can muster. When a semester of classes is in session, I can't think creatively of novels and other fiction.  I have to think of hard facts and science.  But when a semester is over, it is a relief to let my brain switch gears and go back to my novels to see what my brain has been cooking while I've been away.

I got in a nice 4.5 hour session on my novel today.  Came up with some new ideas to fix some weak spots in the novel and realized there are some parts I will have to re-write.  That kind of clarity can only come from time and distance.

While I absolutely do understand the value of "write every day", and while I realize for some people it is the method that works, a more apt mantra for me appears to be "write infrequently" or "write in spurts".  That's how I get things done.

Yes, it makes things take longer.  And no one will ever accuse me of being the most prolific writer on the planet.  But since most of life is complete and utter tedious drudgery, why would I want to use fiction writing to bludgeon myself?  I want to enjoy the process of creativity.  At my own pace.