6/6/19 Word Count: 371

Days like this are frustrating. Feeling the press of time and the weight of the words still waiting to hit the page. But writing isn’t like a sprinkler system where you flip the switch and you get a nice, consistent flow aimed just where you want it.

I work full-time. And I know I’m not the only one trying to juggle the day job with the dream job. It’s my personal theory that these are the dues all writers must pay. That, in order to earn the privilege of promoting the dream job to the day job, you have to prove you want it bad enough that you’re willing to do the day job and the dream job at the same time, basically holding your hand up to the Universe and saying, “See? I love it so much, I’ll treat it like a second job. And to really prove I want it, I’ll do it for free!”

Writers need to form a union and renegotiate these terms.

One of the biggest problems of working the day job is that the dream job often doesn’t get my best work. By the time I get to really sit down and dig in, the day job has taken a good nine hours of my focus, time, energy, and patience. I’m getting more adept at catching my second wind, but it’s not easy. Plus, after giving the majority of my day to The Man, it becomes all too easy to want to kick back and relax and not be beholden to anyone or anything — including a self-imposed writing deadline that no one cares if you meet it or not. Again, it’s a test to see how badly we want it. Am I willing to work sans carrot and sans stick?

Writers’ union? Anyone?

I was not happy about my word count. The words were not flowing. I felt like I was working a 5,000 piece puzzle, digging in the box, looking for all the straight edges. I knew they were in there but damn if I could find them quickly. I complained about it to Shannon (my most awesomest roommate and Writing Dream cheerleader extraordinaire). And Shannon, in typical cheerleader style, said “But you wrote something.”  To which I said, “Not nearly enough.” There was probably a cuss word in there somewhere. Pick a word and insert where you will.

This is why Shannon has the pom-poms.

But she’s right. A day I sit down to write is a day I choose to pursue my dream. A day I get words down is a day my characters live and breathe and become a little more real. A day I agonize over how to put a sentence together is a day I spend working on my craft. Some words will always beat out no words. It’s the writer version of the slow jogger still lapping the person sitting on the couch.

This is where reframing becomes important, otherwise, if you’re anything like me, you will beat yourself to death with your own bullshit. Instead of saying I only wrote 371 words, I should be saying that today is the thirteenth day in a row that I have worked on my book for at least two hours. Instead of focusing on my perceived 371-word failure, I should be acknowledging that I have written 10,000 words since Sunday morning. Instead of stressing over how many words I wish I’d written, I should be proud of myself for telling my friends that I could go out to dinner tonight but I had to be home at a decent hour because I had work to do.

People who lose a lot of weight and keep it off do so because they have successfully changed their lifestyle. It’s not a fad or a gimmick or a crash diet or a pill. It’s a habit. If you do the right things and do them consistently, you don’t have to worry about the result — the result will take care of itself.

So on those days with low word counts, when you feel like you went ten rounds in the ring with your evil writer doppelganger and got your ass handed to you, remember this:

You were there. You showed up. You did the right things. You gave it effort. You didn’t quit. You didn’t make excuses. You acted like a writer because you are a writer.

6/6/19: Muse Magic:

I’m coming up on a chapter where I get to use a scene that is special to me. It’s a scene that is one of the best examples I have of how writing and creativity is sometimes an inexplicable, serendipitous process. It’s one of those stories that I know I’ll be telling at Cons and book signings years and years from now. And it’s a scene I’m excited to write. When I get there.

I’m a linear writer (at least for now). It’s hard for me to write the exciting scenes and then go back and write the filler like connective tissue. It doesn’t feel organic to me. That may change the more experienced I get. I’m open to that. And I’m certainly not saying that doing it non-linear is wrong. It’s just wrong for me at this moment in my development.

But tonight, I kinda wished I was a non-linear writer. I’m in one of those “connective tissue” chapters and, while I know it’s important, it’s just not as exciting as some of the stuff coming up. But soon. The reminder of that little scene coming up was a good little boost to end my night on.

Even if it meant looking up ornithology and horticulture websites to ensure that the range of the species I needed overlapped the state where I’ve set my book. It did. Most excellent.


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