The trouble with getting out of the fiction writing routine is figuring out how to get into it again. I’ve talked before about my latest book depression, and though I’m happy to report I’ve come out of the weeds of my deadlines and am writing fiction again, it’s a funny stop-start process, this remembering how to write.
That’s not to say, obviously, that I haven’t been writing. I write a lot. I write hundreds of projects for work, usually 2-6 a day, and on the fiction front I wrote a short story in December and have completed various chapters and proposals, but not in a dedicated sort of business way. Novels are different sorts of beasts. Sometimes it’s difficult to hold everything in my head, and if I think about it too much, I can get overwhelmed.
So I’ve started going back to the “How to go from writing 2k to 10k a day” writing advice again. Instead of just opening up my manuscript and staring at it like I’ve been doing (IF I STARE AT IT LONG ENOUGH PERHAPS THE WORDS WILL WRITE THEMSELVES) I’ve started writing out exactly what needs to change in a scene/chapter *before* I write it. I know my most productive time to write fiction is from about 9pm to 2am. But, alas, I have a day job requiring an 8am-5pm workday. So the closest I can get to that writing time is to block out 7:30pm to 9pm for writing instead.
When you only have that much dedicated time every day, you really have to make the most of it. I’ve started thinking about scenes again before bed as well, just to maximize my time. This is possible now because I’m not thinking through class lectures or other projects on deadline during that time anymore.
There are so many creative times and spaces where the magic happens that *aren’t* the writing time that I think I forgot about them. I can be like, “Oh, I was spending an extra 40 hours a week on teaching prep and freelancing” but if you count all those other brain-spaces – stuck in traffic, drifting off to bed, riding the elevator, exercising… I was using all those spaces to work on other problems related to this other paying work as well, and it’s very strange to finally move back to using that space for worldbuilding and working out plot points.
But planning is not enough, and so I have to get back into the gnarly text of things and people and scenes and worlds and magical satellites and toxic living things. I suspect that much of my gnashing on this novel has to do with the fact that it’s a rewrite of a very old novel, one that I seem to be perpetually rewriting, and there’s some trepidation that I will never be competent enough to do it right.
Life is like that, though, isn’t it? If we waited until we felt competent enough to do things, we’d never have learned to flip an omelet or ride a bike or ace a job interview. Sometimes when I think about writers’ fears I like to pretend they’re some special kind of unique fear, but really, it’s all the same. Fear of failing. Fear of success. Fear that maybe when you get knocked down this time, you won’t get up.
The only solution is to keep writing.