Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Writing and Productivity

This past year has been a dud for me, writing wise.  Since the release of my first (published) novel, I’ve struggled with writer’s block. There are lots of reasons for this, but lately I’ve been more productive and more excited about writing than I have for a long time. Why? What changed?  I’d like to say that I made a plan and stuck to it. That I’ve been sitting in my writing room, avoiding my husband, my kids, the phone, Facebook, television and all social events. But I’d be lying. The truth is, I’ve been having a good time. I’ve been enjoying life.

But that’s not the reason for my writing bliss.  Sitting alone at Freebirds today, I thought about it and realized that I have been making subtle changes in my routine over the last few weeks that are giving me better writing results.

Early Birding It

My son started high school this year. High school starts before dawn. Well, my son gets up before dawn, so I get up. By the time the kids are gone, I’m dressed and ready for the day. I’ve had my coffee. I’ve already looked at the news, the weather, checked email, and wasted some time on YouTube. Eight o’clock rolls around and I’m ready to head to the library or bookstore to write.  Which leads me to my second change…

Avoiding Home Sweet Home

I’ve stopped writing at home.  Being all dressed up, I need somewhere to go, so I get in the car and…go. I used to write in coffee shops all the time, but somewhere along the way, I stopped. I think I was trying to save money. I also had this crazy idea that I could write and get the laundry done at the same time. I wrote and put in a load of dishes. I wrote a little more and then vacuumed the living room. You can see how this would be a productivity killer, but somehow I missed it. I thought  was being efficient. Now that I’ve started going out to write, I’m getting so much more done. What’s more, I feel great every day. I write until lunchtime – with no distractions! It’s a beautiful thing.


*Photo by Alan Light

Okay, don’t laugh! I stumbled on the Oprah channel on Sirius Radio. While I’m driving to the bookstore or the library, I hear all these uplifting stories about people overcoming adversity.  What can I say? It’s inspiring. I arrive at my destination all pumped up. Funny thing is, I never watched Oprah. I don’t listen to or watch inspirational  -- well – anything.

But the world can be a negative place. Doing something creative, anything creative, takes such a leap of faith. I never considered that an ‘inspirational’ mindset would be an asset. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I think I have to listen to Oprah and all her cronies from now on.

Just Good Enough

I’m a perfectionist. This is not an asset when trying to create art. Art is messy and fun and daring. You can’t be daring and be a perfectionist. (Maybe being a perfectionist is helpful during revision, but I have my doubts about that too.)

Lately, when I face a difficult problem in writing, instead of asking myself how I can make this scene, this character, this plot line perfect, I ask myself, “How can I make this good enough?”  This question might just change my life.  It’s very freeing. When I think about making something just good enough, all kinds of ideas suddenly present themselves. I can pick one, play with it and see if it will work. This question has gotten me through 300 pages of work in about 2 weeks. Writer’s block be damned!

Well, that's it. Those are the changes I've accidentally made. I'm not superstitious, but I think I'll stick to this routine and see where it takes me! 

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