It’s been about a month since I spent any substantial time working on Novel #2. Lots of excuses—dental surgery, friend died, working on some interviews, the book sucks, worried about Novel #1—but none of them are any good. My schedule for this book was three days a week, 800 words a day. Seems innocent enough. Here’s a little outline of the road to hell.
- It starts with me feeling lousy in the morning. For a few days I procrastinate and finally do my scheduled writing in the evening.
- Next, I miss a day entirely and make it up the next day, on the day I’m supposed to have the day off entirely from writing.
- Next, I miss a day and don’t make it up, feeling very guilty about it.
- Next, I miss another day and don’t make it up, but now I don’t feel so guilty about it.
- Next, remorselessly, I miss another and another and another day. Soon, it’s almost a month since I’ve written any of my 800 words a day.
- Friend calls, says she can’t write, the muse isn’t visiting. I tell her to hell with the Muse visiting, you have to visit the Muse.
- Today is approaching, and I know I want to write this particular post about getting back on the wagon. I’ll feel like a terrible phony if I write about getting back to writing without getting back to writing.
- I open the file for the novel, and start reading, and realize I have no idea where I am in the plot.
- I write anyway, not caring whether it has any coherence or not. It’s more important to get the 800 words in.
- I do it, and it’s still pretty awful.
- I know it’s awful, but allow that there just might be some little thing that will make it into the next draft. That’s reward enough right now.
- I write this post, so that I can remember the arc of what happened.
For the future:
- Stick to my schedule whether I feel like it or not. It’s like what those money gurus tell you about saving money from your paycheck—pay yourself first; writing that book is my first obligation.
- It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad. What matters is 800 words.
- If I don’t do it, it won’t be done by anyone else. My years on this planet as a functioning human being are quite finite.
- If it doesn’t seem worthwhile, maybe it’s not. But it’s not like I’m doing anything better with the time.
- Okay, maybe I’m fooling myself, it’s all worthless. True, but there’s nothing wrong with fooling myself, if it helps me keep going.
- Whether I write or not, time is going to pass anyway. I can let it pass with a book, or without it. I’ll be happier if I have a book—even if it sucks.
- I remind myself about the magic of revision. I can’t revise unless there’s something to revise.
- When I see myself slipping down the ladder, get back to the very first rung again, back to the original schedule.
Hope this is helpful to someone out there—but selfishly, I hope this is useful to me!