I’m baaaaaack…. Many thanks to all of my wonderful guest posters who filled in for so much longer than I anticipated.
Anyway, I was busy. Busy writing, busy learning. Whether your thang is writing, auto repair, particle physics, or building castles out of
pipe cleaners chenille stems, each new project has something unique to teach you. The sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me is already teaching me a lot, and I still have a ways to go, even with the first draft done. Here’s hoping some of these lessons might speak to you in whatever your thang might be.
What works for you may not work for me. “Just sit down at the keys and write! No excuses! That’s how I wrote my novel!” Well, once upon a time, that’s how I wrote my novel. It wasn’t working this time. I have a very large file full of rewrites just to get to the end of the first draft, because for the better part of a year, every time I forced myself to write, nonsense came out. I was writing myself in circles, wasting time I don’t have. It took a lot of courage to admit the “butt in seat, fingers on keys” approach was doing nothing but breaking my heart and getting me nowhere.
What worked last time might not work this time. See above: I had to find another approach for this project. I’m a creature who thrives on routine, so the idea of changing tactics was frightening. Lesson learned: flexibility is valuable. Another lesson learned: to value that my creative energies are a gift from God, not an award I get for hard work, and that they are not an unlimited resource. If my family needs my creative problem solving energies, they get dibs. The writing will have to wait, and that’s okay.
Thinking time is writing time. Second Shift is a particularly talkative child who literally can’t stop talking for love or money.
Me: If you can stay quiet until we get home, you can have an M&M
2nd Shift: Okay.
Me: [Counting in my head one, two, three, four, five, six, seven–]
2nd Shift: Mommy?
2nd Sift: I don’t want an M&M.
She really just. Can’t. Stop. Sharing. And needing to know she’s been heard. Future blogger, I guess.
As indicated above, the “don’t think, just write” method was failing me. When I wrote DYFAM, it was in a three-month haze of enthusiasm while First Shift was in school and Second Shift was napping. Times have changed: I homeschool all three now. Second Shift’s naps are looooong gone, and her loquacity takes up a very large amount of my creative energy. Like, by 9:15am on a good day. (Speaking of which, if you have any kinesthetic phonics activities to share, you know where to find me.) The times when I could sit and “write in my head” while Second Shift napped in the car have gone the way of her naps. If my writing time is 5:30am-6:30am, and I don’t know what to write, I have every right to
lay lie in bed, stare at the ceiling, and think about what happens next, and that’s okay too.
Ask for help. You just might get it. I spent some time developing a Clean Routine that shares more of the housework with the kids, and having a reduced-clutter living space helps with EVERYTHING, including the writing. I also have become better about asking my husband if I can get away from the house somewhere and write.
I’m the person who is happy to help others, but when I need the help, I feel like my cries fall into nothingness. Thus, I rarely ask for it. But this time, I worked up the chutzpah to ask a number of writing and reading friends, all found through the Catholic Writers Guild, to beta the first draft for me. All but three of them said yes, like within hours. I asked them because I know I can trust them to be firm but kind. Ask help of people with whom you already have a rapport of trust.
Sometimes, you’ll start out with C work. That doesn’t mean you’ll end that way. Never before in my life as a legal adult have I knowingly handed in anything but the best possible thing I could turn out. In sophomore year of college, I basically withraw-failed two honors classes (English and Theatre–ha!) rather than hand in something that wasn’t my best. For the NLMDA draft, however, I handed it off to Team Beta knowing it is chock full of problems: unanswered questions, fuzzy motivations, plot holes, impossibilities, even a fire alarm that I’m not sure I ever turned off… or on for that matter.
And that’s okay. It’s not the end of the story. Chances are pretty good that I’ll survive letting people see that I’m okay with showing up knowing that I already need to improve.
I learned how to make espresso on the stovetop. It’s changed my life.
So, question for you, Dear Reader: Did ANY of these resonate with you? Or is it just me and Second Shift out here sharing (First Shift dwells only in Surly Preteen Land)? What are some creative habits you’ve formed and then re-formed? What are some ways you recharge your creative energies? What is your favorite way to make coffee?
I’m doing this for #MondayBlogs, but since they’re Quick Takes and there are Seven of ’em, I’ll link this on up at This Ain’t the Lyceum.