My lov'lies, I've been NOT WRITING.
Really, I've realised something about how I write. I get bored easily. SO EASILY. I imagine it's the same tendency I get with everything, hence the bazillions of half-finished projects around my house: quilts, knitting, BOOKS—omg the books I've started and not finished!—TV shows on Netflix I've only half-marathoned (though possibly for the better), and then there was that short stretch of time when I thought I'd teach myself how to embroider (very short), and thankfully my urge to learn guitar didn't last long enough for me to actually spend money (that I don't have) on a guitar...
You get the point.
When I write, I have one scene in my mind. It's vivid. It's a movie. I have to dig out my phone while I'm driving to dictate a conversation before it's lost to the oblivion. I have 30 draft emails in my email account with scattered notes and ideas I had in those few moments I didn't have my notebook handy. And my notebook... the poor thing. Every top margin is filled with teeny writing, which then flows into the margins, which then flows into the skipped lines between entries.
I write the scene.
I sit down every day, I earn my sticker,1 I keep writing during my lunch breaks and I can't wait to get home and continue writing. I think about it all the time. I actually have to stop myself, pace myself, so I don't get burned out. Because I do that easily, too. I write page after page, maybe taking a day off in the middle, until I have my scene.
You have to understand, I have a long workday (as I'm sure many people do). A two hour writing session means I have spinach for dinner. Forget laundry, dishes, showering. Pfft. I wrote today. I win at life.
I stare at the pages in their beautiful blue ink-scribbled glory.
And then I don't know what to write next. So I skip a day. Then two. Then three. I'm eating better, and the laundry gets done, and all the dishes, but then two weeks have gone by, and my calendar is very lacking in the cheery sea animal sticker department.
So I start writing something else, because other stories have been fighting for the spotlight for those two weeks, but I've been pushing them away because I already have a project! This thing over here, that I've been avoiding! But my willpower, it is weak. I give in. I start writing another story.
It's first person. It's contemporary. Ish. There's science, and no dragons (yet), so I guess that makes it contemporary. It's so gloriously different from my other project that I can sit down and write and make my word count and everyone is happy.
Except for the first project. It's sitting in the earlier pages of my notebook, crying and wondering what it's done to me to make me abandon it so. I actually think of the pages forming a pair of eyes and eyebrows, just enough to scrunch up and cry and make me feel like a terrible person for abandoning my baby over here.
To which I say, "Don't worry, little story. I still love you." I give it a consoling pat on the head, then turn my back on it to keep writing the Other Story.
I finish the scene. I am proud of myself. I admire all the stickers I've earned.
And then I don't know where to go next. I don't write for a day, then two, then three.
But I've been thinking about my first story now. Getting excited about it again. I know where it needs to go next, I can feel my character's pain, I can hear their arguing and their nightmares and their pillow talk. This is good, this is what I needed. A little bit of vacation to get excited about it again!
So I sit down, and start working on the first story. And earn my stickers.
I think this is okay, though. This is how I work. A very long, spaced out cycle. I'm working to compress it. I don't want to go so many days between scenes, without writing anything. Because then the words and stories inside me build up until I can't think straight. But working on a different project helps. It clears the gunk out of my engine, stretches different muscles, allows me to keep moving on something. And hey, at some point I do have to do the dishes.
1 I've actually been doing something like this, drawing a star in my calendar, for a while now. But after seeing this post, I went out and bought stickers! Sea animal stickers, to be specific. And it is SO MUCH BETTER. Now, I not only berate myself for not getting any writing done, I have adorable sharks and turtles to berate me too! All in all, everyone is happy. Except when I don't write, then NO ONE is happy. Especially the starfish, who frequently lose an arm when I don't make my writing goal but still showed up and BICHOK'd the shit out of my night and wrote something and I want SOME KIND OF CREDIT, DAMMIT, GIVE ME YOUR ARM.↩