My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, January 30, 2017

When You Fall Off the Horse (Personal Update)

Working in a play cafe with T.C.
Image description: Writer looking wild eyed, but determined
(and super cute) in a play cafe
Really Rough Draft  

Raw unfettered shit- 71, 814 (Last update 60, 203) [Just this update- 11,611]     

Slightly polished turd- 55, 716 (Last update 34,809)  [Just this update- 20,907] 

Got a surprise double shift with the kiddo today, so I'm going to do a quick update.

If that number above looks like a decent week instead of something closer to the six weeks it's been since I last updated my word counts, you're not wrong. And probably half of this progress occurred only in the last week.

I don't have a lot of excuses. Of course the end of the semester and holidays are always rough, but that wrapped up a month ago. Then I deal with what I call "life fallout" (as all the things I've ignored while I've been overwhelmed come to collect). This included a couple of overdue visits and some deep cleaning, but that was only about ten days of January. I got sick, but it was only for a few days. Mostly I just dropped the ball. I've gotten a lot of extra hours watching The Contrarian, but not so many that writing should have been impractical. All these factors combined were non-trivial, but I still should have had time to make some slow and steady progress.

No, the real problem wasn't time.

I've not been okay with the election and subsequent fallout. As it got more and more real (and then began to take effect after the inauguration) I felt worse and worse. People I love are already feeling direct and measurable harm in their lives. A friend of mine is probably not going to get to see their husband for at least three months because of the travel ban. I've been able to write (even every day, but it's been very focused on social and political writing on my facebook page.

A blurb on FB (even a pretty long one) might take me about an hour or 90 minutes. That's about how long I can focus right now. I've had trouble getting blogs up but have managed with liberal application of jazz hands. But sitting down and writing fiction has been extra difficult.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of how out of sorts I've been has been the trouble I've had reading. Articles are fine, although I find myself wanting to skim a lot of them after the first couple of paragraphs. I have tried about three times to sit down and read Ancillary Justice and even though it's a very compelling read, I just keep getting distracted.

Though I've been writing every day, my manuscript has gone a bit fallow.

So let me share a little trick I do when times are like this and I can't seem to break out. It's not panacea, and it may not work for you, but it has never let me down when I'm having trouble sitting and working, but I need bolster my word counts something fierce.

I sit down and I force myself to write for only five minutes.

That's it. Five minutes. I don't block off three hours and have major expectations. I just say "I'm going to write for five minutes and then I'm done." Is there anyone who can't spit a few words at the page (even on something they're pretty "meh" about) for five minutes?

At the end of that five minutes, I get to decide whether I want to re-up for another five. It's no different. I'm not signing on to write for an hour. It's just five more minutes. If I'm out of gas by the end of it, I can walk away with honor.  And then at the end of that five minutes.....I see if maybe I want to do five more.  Usually within about twenty minutes, I'm writing at a clip instead of stopping every five to check in. It doesn't always work, but usually those are the longest writing sessions I pull out.

So if you're having some real trouble with your mojo, don't ask yourself if you feel like sitting down and putting in a four hour stint. Just ask yourself if you can do five minutes....

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