As a writer, some days I am a machine. I mean words just pour right out of me. I’ve done stretches that begin early in the morning (cause I wake up EXCITED to write) and I’ve stayed up well into the evening with only the owls to keep me company as I hammer away at the keyboard.
Truly, I’ve had days (many, in fact) when I’ve been able to crank out well over 2,800 words. (BTW, that’s 11 or 12 pages of usable novel material… an output that, for me, is spectacular.)
However, on Saturday I just spent about 5 hours in a knife fight with my latest book with the grand word production total for the day being 340.
When I was a younger writer, days like this would really aggravate me. Truly, I’d get steamed at myself.
“You suck. You gotta do more. You are never going to hit your goals if this is all your able to produce.” Stuff like that. The critical voice which live(d) inside my head would just have a field day berating me.
But you’ll notice that I said live(d) instead of lives. The reason is that after years of doing this I’ve learned that some days are just gonna be that way. Some patches of my books are just going to pour right out of me and some are gonna be bare-knuckle, down-n-dirty back alley brawls.
It’s just the nature of the beast.
However, nowadays, instead of allowing my own inner critic to run roughshod all over my own inner world (btw, yes, I have voices in my head and they are in constant conversation — I have a feeling though that this is actually quite normal. And until they start telling to do things like “eat the neighbor’s door knocker then take off your pants”, I try to give them the latitude they need to express themselves.) I have learned to go with the flow.
The writing of each book is its own journey and to try and put preconceived notions about productivity and output on every day’s efforts, well… for me, it can prove detrimental.
In great part though, this is because I have already cultivated the muscle of self-discipline. See, some writers are, as they describe themselves, lazy. They’ll do anything they can to procrastinate. Me, I am the opposite. Give me a full day and I will seize it. This is why my own inner critic doesn’t crush me as much as it used to any more… because I know that even if today was tough sledding, I’ll be back at it tomorrow and the next day and the next and, like trekking in an adventure-filled country, I know that some days will be open road with sun and easy terrain and others will see me climbing uphill through mud in a downpour.
Obviously, the more days of sun the better — but without the tough days, I am not sure that my books will ever be any good. If they are too easy, it means I am taking on too much of the obvious — and I need to look deeper at character (i.e. making them richer), plot (i.e. crafting it in a more complex and emotionally fulfilling manner) and so on.
Okay, Saturday was tough and hardly what I would call “voluminous” (by my own standards). But I made it to safe harbor, I definitely “worked hard at my book” and even if I have to go back and re-write or toss all the work I just did, it’s all just part of the journey towards completing a novel.
And, best of all, I greatly enjoy the work. Even when writing is really hard and really frustrating and really aggravating — heck, TORTUOUS… it’s better than not writing.
Not writing is death.
BTW, this post took me about 20 minutes to write. Word count: 636 Oh, the irony. The Gods of Writing must be laughing their butts off.
And me, too.