Monday, March 14, 2016

Change is the Only Constant

Ah, poor neglected little blog. I've been busy using all of my spare moments to revise and rewrite my third Shards of History book, so I let the blog and many other things slide. But heavy revisions are done, and so I feel like I'm waking after a long sleep, stretching and looking around, and trying to figure out where the heck I am and what on earth I should write about here.

I enjoy hearing about other people's writing processes, like what time of day people have to write, how they fit it in among their other obligations, whether they draft with a computer or long hand, whether they outline or not, etc. I used to think that processes were rather stagnant and changed little, but my processes have changed a lot over the years for various reasons.

I used to be able to write at any time of day. But recently I have found that I'm too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to do anything beyond answering simple emails, and sometimes I shouldn't even attempt that because the message makes no sense. I give a lot of brain energy to the day job and to my family, so I often end up with none left in the evening. Sometimes I get excited about an idea and write some at night, but this is the exception to the rule these days.

I also used to be able to write in long chunks of time. I could write for forty-five minutes or even longer without a break. Now if I try to push myself that long, I slow down a lot. Instead, I set a timer for fifteen minute intervals and go, go, go while it's counting down. I get much more written that way than I do lingering over the keyboard for forty-five minutes. So writing has become more of a series of sprints than a marathon.

For a while there, every time I tried establishing a writing routine, something would interrupt. I'd try getting up earlier to write, and my son would get up earlier. I'd try writing at night, and the next day when I'd read the previous day's words, they would be awful because I had tried writing while tired. This mostly had to do with the child's ever-changing habits. Every time I thought I had his schedule--and thus mine--figured out, he'd throw a wrench into the works. But things seem to have settled (she says as she knocks on wood).

I used to write new words every day. That meant I would often switch from revising to writing new words to submitting stories to any number of other writing-related tasks. But these days I focus on one or two tasks and stick with those, even if it means I don't write new words for a while. I might be heavily revising instead, or critiquing, or planning the next story or book. That's one of the reasons I don't keep track of words written per day like some do. It's not a bad idea, but it's not for me. Instead, I have a checklist of things to work on in descending order of urgency and tackle some each day. Often that includes writing new words, but sometimes it does not.

So, as with many things in life, flexibility is key. Processes change. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to find what works, and then it works for a while, and then it needs to change again.

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