The Unfulfilled Promise of Later

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me. Time is the ever-present non-renewable resource that I constantly struggle to manage. And time has been getting away from me lately in the face of the on-coming finals season, end of law school, and beginning of bar stress. My commitment to my writing, as measured in consistency and hours, definitely took a hit. And like we learn in physics: bodies at rest, stay at rest. In this blog post, let’s talk strategies and experiments to get that writing-body back to one in motion.

I don’t believe there is any one way to get back to that place your writer self remembers from last week, last month, last year, where finding time for writing was easy, and the writing itself was ready when you were. For me, it is always a matter of seeing what is going to work for me now that does not involve totally abandoning my WIP even though that is the thought itching at the base of my brain. (Look, Brain, it just needs work and some TLC and is *not* a POS, whatever you think right now. Back off.) 

But this is about strategies. What have I been doing to get back into my writer flow?

  1. Forgive myself. I am REALLY good at beating myself up for not living up to my own (often ridiculous) expectations of what I should be accomplishing all the time. Right now, I am taking note of these thoughts and not beating myself up about them like I usually do (double whammy!) and taking the time to talk myself through them in a postive light. What does this look like? Something along the lines of’ “Okay, so you haven’t been editing your WIP everyday and you are sort of scared of engaging with it. Okay. That is where you are. You have a lot on my plate right now, and you have been doing a read-through and making notes and edits. It is okay that it is not everyday. When you are not inspired, you can work, and that is what you are doing right now. Good for you.” Rinse, repeat until all the mental dirt is cleared until the next time.
  2. Work on something else. I am a person that needs multiple projects going at once. My problem is making sure it is not too many multiple projects. But I feel stuck if I have only one thing going on at a time. My brain needs distractions to work through things and make connections that would not have happened if I was focused in on a single WIP. So, I have some short stories brewing, some in editing, some in drafting. I am engaging with these, so that my WIP can have that break when I am on the verge of abandoning it. The fact that these other projects are in different stages also helps, because I can assess what kind of creation I need right now. Do I need to generate? Do I need to feel like I checked something off of my to do list? Do I need to read other works and interesting facts related to a story? All of these options are available to me in my Dropbox.
  3. Walk away (as in, walk). Physical activity is key to my creativity. When option 2 is not doing it for me, I put on my running or walking shoes and get moving. I know a lot of people have their best ideas in the shower; I have mine on a run or on a walk. I go by myself and let my mind wander. Even if I end up back at my apartment with no new insights or ideas or what-have-yous, I am clearer. Much like the self-care in option 1, letting go of conscious direction of my thoughts helps to clear out mental obstacles and stresses that block me from moving forward. 
  4. Journal. This option is a relatively new one for me.  Journal about the struggle. Journal about things that happened in your day. Journal the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual experiences of your day. My life feels incredibly limited at the moment, because law schools seems like all I ever do. Journaling gets me out of that mindset. My bike rides, lunches, walks, classes, everything all have individualized and specific relevance to my life and to my writing. I can write and write creatively without the pressure of creating something. The story is there; it needs words. And at the end, even if it does not jump start me back into my writing flow, I have a record of experience for future works. 
  5. Schedule. Scheduling for me is not the “I write from 7 am until 9 am” kind. That limits me (kuddos if that works for you; I am totes jealous!). I schedule writing in more of a where does this go in my day kind of way. If I try to say “I will write before I go to bed,” I am not going to write (tired + only accountable to myself = excuses). Mornings work for me. I am not a morning person, but I am good at getting things done in the morning (because I hate everyone until I have been sufficiently caffeinated). I write after breakfast, before I go to school. It is not an exact time, but I can make it consistent so long as I keep it there. Once I start working on law school stuff, my brain switches over and writing is a struggle. In the morning, before law school, after breakfast. And if I miss a day to get some extra sleep, see option 1.

That’s the experiment right now. How do you approach your own loss of writer flow? What other kinds of approaches do you think are effective? Drop your thoughts in the comments, and let’s get a conversation going!

Reading Beloved

I read Beloved by Toni Morrison probably a month or so ago, and I have been struggling with writing a blog about it. My experience of it defies my usual, quick reviews. The experience was a jumble of many different things, and because I think struggling through these experiences, especially difficult ones, is necessary both for my writing but more importantly for my own personal growth, I am going to (imperfectly) capture my experience of it. But before I do that, I want to first point you to someone else’s experience of it, because (as I will discuss) this book was not written for my white self with an ancestry free of enslaved people, so I hope you take a moment to go read crunkadelic’s experience of it as a sacred text at the Crunk Feminist Collective (and if you wrote or know of other blogs by African-Americans discussing the book, drop links in the comments!). If you only have time for one blog post, choose theirs.

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Boys Just Wanna Not Be Lab Rats: The Maze Runner et al.

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In the continuing theme of “Oh, shit, I meant to do that by now” I present to you my review of the Maze Runner trilogy. Although I read them in December during winter break, I was wise enough to take down a few notes to refresh what was lovely and what was … not so great about these books. Thar be spoilers below. Continue reading

Billy Budd (Or How I Learned That I Do Not Actually Hate Melville)

I get that it is a good idea to have kids read books they would otherwise not have read. I get that the classics are important to a well-rounded, quality education, even accounting for the narrow and kyriarchal way “classic” is defined. But man, can you turn off a kid from reading an author when they are set loose with an obscure text and no guide to at least rise to the level of appreciation. That is exactly how I came to loathe Melville. But I have been redeemed! Continue reading

Author Comes Up For Air From Law School To Say Hello

Well, shit.

I had such plans for the month of January, and here we are in February and, let’s just say, I was moderately distracted by starting my last semester of law school. (The light at the end of the tunnel is the blinding, searing sun known as “The Bar”, but shhhh, let’s ignore that for now.)

The last semester of law school is one of checking things off and completing obligations and a general sort of sloughing off of responsibilities. For instance, I am almost done with my journal duties (cross your fingers for me that the author currently editing her article is making minor, stylistic changes only that will be easy for me to implement). I am in classes that I enjoy, which makes the reading so much easier, especially my Law & Lit class where I get to read fiction for law school (double win!). My time belongs more and more to me as the weeks go by.

But for January these final tasks and obligations have been sucking up all of my time that isn’t spent eating or sleeping. So… the blogging and Tweeting has been less than I would like (apologies). It was going to be great. I had great plans for reviews of Billy Budd and Beloved. I wanted to discuss editing and such, since that is what I need to do on by book.

All of this time suckage has functioned to keep me from working on the book. Also, that part of my brain that is somewhat terrified of editing it is totally colluding with law school, because it thinks it is going to destroy it once I really get started. I feel a little like a person that has never held a baby being handed one for the first time and the running mental commentary is OMG I’M GOING TO DROP IT! WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, GIVING THIS TO ME! So, I’ve been working on that mental block (tips from my readers on how you’ve handled this issue are always appreciated; drop them in the comments).

But there are things I can do starting now. My passion planner arrived, so I’m going to use this to organize myself. I am going to attempt not hitting snooze and giving myself back that hour of writing everyday before school. And I’m going to accept that this editing process is going to be slow. Slower probably than I would like. And if I don’t make my goal to get a draft to my beta readers before I dive into studying for finals and The Bar, then that is just going to be what happens.

I am bad at being balanced with my time, but I am working at it. Okay, February, let’s get started.

The Writing and the Process: A Review of 2K to 10K

While I was on break, I wanted to spend some of the time that I got back reading a book about writing. I had seen a review of 2K to 10K (probably on Twitter, but honestly, if I haven’t made a note about it somewhere, I cannot be held accountable for remembering. #lawschoolbrain). I thought maybe I should dive into a style or craft book, but I really wanted to get the draft of my book done before the break was over (I did it!), and everything seemed to be moving much slower than I needed it to in order to get it done while also actually participating in the holidays. Even with just one tweak from the book (which I won’t spoil, since it is not mine to spoil), I doubled to triple my per hour word count and was able write even when I wasn’t really feeling it. Not feeling it is sort of death for me, because I have so much to do that excuses are easily found. But before I ramble into some other blog topic about that, join me for a brief argument about why you might want to pick up this book. Continue reading

10 Ways This Year Rocked

As I said on Twitter, it’s apparently the list blog post time of year, so here is my contribution. I’ve been wanting to do an end of year post anyway, so let’s kill two birds with one stone. No, wait. I kind of hate that saying. What’s better? Let’s mash these foods together? No. Let’s match this outfit. Yeah, I don’t have anything better, but if you do, pop it in the comments! Onto the actual blog post! Full of excitement!

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Revisiting Surveillance & Torture: Orwell’s 1984

Long time, no post. I have a two word reason: law school. It’s not over, but it’s slowed enough for me to get back on the blogging horse. And how else does do that but with a discussion of the Surveillance & Torture State that certainly doesn’t look a thing like the government of your own country. </sarcasm> Alright, dear readers, let’s watch the watchers.

Content warning of mentions torture (without detail) and body image issues.
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Fight Back: A Review of The Unit

I apparently am having a reader craving for something specific, and I’ll keep devouring books until I satisfy it. Maybe – hopefully – it’s in the book I’m writing. Even if that is true, I hope to find it in other people’s works so my reviews here can be more than: it’s just missing some thing, let me tell you what it is. But alas, today is not that day, and The Unit is not that book. Let’s talk about why sticking it to the childless just didn’t really work its magic on me. {Beware the spoilers below.} Continue reading

Reviewing October, Planning November

Ah, October. The weather in DC has finally decided that maybe it is Fall? Maybe. It is considering skipping directly to Winter, just to keep us on our toes and/or to finally do that Game of Thrones cosplay its been thinking about for 4 seasons (ha! get it?!).

October has been a mash of things for me, writerly-wise. I had a short story published over at Crooked/Shift. I finally figured out how to get some good writing in on the regular and ended up with over 12,000 words in my book this month (for reference I was struggling to get maybe 2,000 written in a month – pat on the freakin’ back for that one). Continue reading