Let’s just say I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done in the past three or four weeks. I’ve had a lot of family in town from out of state and out of country this summer, and for a nice change of pace, I spent some of my writing time these past weeks reading/editing some fiction and academic writing for friends. I also recently finished editing one project and switched gears to coediting a different manuscript. Legendarily, Anthony Trollope would finish one manuscript and then start the next one the very same day to meet his daily word count, but I’m not sure what his secret was. I tend to lose a lot of momentum when I’m moving from working on one story to another.
I’ve been able to keep a bit of momentum in drips and trickles. My sister and I are editing on Google Drive, so on lunch break at work, for instance, I’m able to log in for a few minutes to reread pages, catch up on my sister’s edits, or even break new ground. But on the few open evenings where I’ve tried to meet my usual word count (1,200 edited words, or 600 drafted words, or a mix of both where drafted words count double edited words), it hasn’t gone particularly well. I don’t believe in writer’s block per se, but when I’ve been out of a project for a while, I can spend a long time staring at the computer screen, feeling completely frozen. What if what I add to the manuscript is rubbish? What if I make it worse rather than better? It’s probably never going to get published anyway.
(This is, incidentally, why I use a word count rather than a time allotment. When I’m on a timer, I can flit endlessly from one website to another “researching” for world building instead of keying one word after another into my manuscript.)
Even sitting down to write this blog post yesterday seemed unusually daunting. I try to keep posts to 500 words or less, and it’s intentionally a space where I don’t think too hard about my style or sentence construction, where I can ease up on the perfectionism I usually bring to my prose when I’m working on my fiction. I even keep a list of potential post ideas, and I scrolled through them without interest, looked at some of my previous posts for context, wondered if I should just not write a post this weekend because I’m tired and who’s counting anyway?
My summer is going to get a lot quieter moving forward, and I’m looking forward to getting into a more regular writing rhythm. I’m expecting some evenings where I think my writing is crap, and I’m sending whiny texts to my sister about how hard editing is, and I’m thinking about how much nicer it sounds to sit down with Trapped season 2 and a mug of herbal tea instead of reaching my word count.
But I’ve been around this block many times before. I know the writing will get easier and feel more natural once I’ve stuck with it long enough.