And breathe…

It’s time to knock off some of the pressure, I think.

Lately I’ve been finding it very hard to relax…hard to sleep, hard to concentrate on things.  Things that I find fun are too tied up in anticipation, too tied up in what they might be taking time away from.  Obviously, none of this is healthy.

Last night I received some sage advice: “You’re doing great with your writing.  But I hate your wordcounts.  Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?”

And it’s true.  It’s entirely true.  If I look back to when I was writing ALL the time (let’s go with university and right after), did I ever have wordcount quotas?  No.  I sometimes did a wordcount for interest’s sake if I felt like I had had a particularly productive day but I never had a quota around it.  And why should I have?  I had no idea how long the finished product was going to be. I just wrote for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Writing has always been one of my favourite things to do, one of the best ways for me to relax.  But over the past little while it hasn’t felt that way at all.  The process has become a “chug out as much as possible in every single spare second”.  And even on days when I have extraordinarily high word counts (yesterday: goal of 2000, wrote over 5000) it’s not enough because the book isn’t done.  And apparently there is some voice in the back of my mind that if this doesn’t get 100% done by the time baby 2 arrives, it will never get done.

And maybe that’s where this pressure is coming from.  When Kid 1 was born, I wrote while he was an infant…but once he started napping less and needing my attention more, I very much fell away from it.  Now that Kid 1 is older, I’m not always going to be able to sit down at my computer while Baby 2 is napping.  And maybe, in the back of my mind, I feel like if I don’t finish this now, I just won’t.

But at what price?  Writing has become more of a pressure/stress thing for me these days than a pleasure.  And that, to me, is even worse than the thought of never getting this manuscript done.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try (TRY) to eliminate some of the pressure.  No more wordcount quotas.  Or, if there are some, they will be very low.  Instead I am simply going to ‘write’ every day.  I’d rather spin off a brilliant short vignette of 500 words than kill myself trying to dredge up 3000 on a day when I’m not feeling into it.  I don’t know how successful I’ll be: today I tried that method and was still all proud of myself for blowing the original wordcount away.

But I clearly do need to re-centre.  And I need to put writing back into the middle of that as something I turn to for relaxation – not something that has become a huge stress-factor in my life that I need to find some relief from.

PS – One of my favourite websites, Zen Habits has in-depth discussions about how living without goals can be a path towards happiness and meaning.  After last night’s conversation, I went and re-read some of the posts on it…it seems so hard to imagine living that way but also doable and well worth it.  We’ll see how this goes.

Still here! Really!

Neglecting my blog, you say?  Whatever do you mean?

In my defence, last week got completely derailed by a very sick bunny and then -on  the same night – kid 1 getting sick as well.  Kid 1 is fine now and as for bunny…we’ll see.  He’s responding well to his medication but there’s still some question about what all of this ultimately means that I don’t want to think about.

On the upside, before any of this happened I had already hit word count for last week.  And I’m really glad about that since I didn’t get any writing done on Friday (looking after sick kid 1 all day), or Saturday (trying to keep no-longer-sick kid entertained all day since he still wasn’t allowed to be ‘around people’) or Sunday (trying to catch up on all of the little things that didn’t get done on Friday or Saturday).  All of that meant that I felt like I started this week somewhat behind the eight ball.

Word count this week – Sunday aside – is, however, going remarkably well.  Yesterday’s quota was 2000 words and I managed 6373, which is a record for me on this project.  Today’s was 1000 (since I was out for most of the morning) and I did 2800.  That means that I’m more than halfway into my quota for the week already.  Not that I’m going to stop or relax about it or anything, but it’s always nice to have productive days.  I’m both excited and nervous about the next sections as it is one of the few parts where I’ll be completely branching into new territory – the next two sections (at least) are not even loosely based on MS1 or MS2.  Even if the previous sections have been completely rewritten, I usually have the ‘original’ beside me, even as a very rough guide.  These next parts are completely original and not stemming from either…I’m stopping myself from getting started on them this afternoon only because I think another night of mulling them over in my head would probably do me some good.

(That being said, I might very well start in on it today.)

And how Fridays should *not* be.

Feeling very creatively stuck right now.  The week has been ridiculously productive – after that short stumble on Sunday, I have managed to go above and beyond my word-count quota every single day.  Except today.  There’s no real reason for this.  I spent the morning in a coffeeshop, rather than at my usual table, looking out the window.  I had my coffee this morning, and it was even reasonable coffeeshop coffee, rather than what I make.  I probably haven’t had enough sleep, but I never have enough sleep.  Kid 1 slept through the night, and while baby 2 is making me uncomfortable, it’s certainly no more so than usual.  Due to my coffeeshop drop-off this morning, I even got in a short walk this morning coming home…and with the weather the way it is, it’s unlikely I would have left my house otherwise.

The story itself isn’t the issue either.  I know where I am in the plot, I know exactly what happens next.  This is not one of those dreaded issues or bottlenecks that I’m sure will be upcoming.  The words themselves just aren’t there.  When they do come, they’re plodding, annoying to me.  There’s no lyricism in them and that makes them both difficult to write and irritating to read over.

I’ve taken breaks.  I went and read some more of Daemon Prism (which, while wonderful, makes my current lack of lyricism feel particularly glaring).  I took my walk.  I emailed some friends.  Hell, I even went and made myself a smoothie instead of throwing myself into the familiar comfort of coffee and (mostly likely) cookies.  (that being said, coffee is likely to follow said smoothie).

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m putting too much pressure on myself, if I should try to cut my wordcount down…not a lot, just a little…so that I can concentrate more on crafting the work rather than just writing down words.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased with what I’ve done up to this point.  But I want to make sure that I’m working with the skill I know I’m capable of.  Of course, the thought of cutting down wordcount scares me because it means first draft might not be done by baby 2.  And that worries me quite a bit.

And yes, I recognize that there’s a good chance that this pressure and stress is contributing to this (hopefully temporary) dry spell.

Mostly I feel like my Muse, my truly creative and inspired side, has decided to take a rather determined nap.   And while I feel that she likely needs to be poked, probably with something sharp, I’m more than willing to listen to suggestions of other ways I might wake her up.