Sunday, August 7, 2011

Not Writing

Writing during the week is really hard for me.  By the time I drive the hour home from work and have dinner, there’s usually laundry to fold or dishes to do, or I’m just so mentally drained from the workday that I’m able to do little more than stare at my manuscript for a few minutes before giving up, playing a stupid Facebook game for twenty minutes and then going to bed.  So I tend to save my writing for the weekends, where I envision being able to sleep in, get up feeling refreshed and fully rested, and spend a good couple of hours tackling my writing.

All day Friday I was ready to write.  But of course, I was at work and had to do work-like things.  The boss doesn't like it if you're supposed to be drafting a Motion for Summary Judgment and you're actually writing about your characters having dinner at the Big Sombrero Restaurant at South of the Border.  So I drafted motions and daydreamed about getting home to takeout and writing.  That was the plan.

Then I got home.  Takeout was delicious, as it always is. Then I sat down, nestled into my writing space, fired up my laptop and... started yawning.  I futzed with my scene for about three paragraphs, but nothing was coming.  I went to bed in disgust.  At that point, I was pretty convinced that my productive weekend of writing was shot to hell.  Yes, I had decided this on Friday night.

So I gave myself permission to not write this weekend.  I had to run some errands anyway, and the Jeep wasn’t cleaning out its own backseat.  Saturday was shoe shopping, a chore I put right up there with standing in line at the DMV.  After finding a pair of black pumps with heels low enough that I wouldn't fall off of them during the workday, I rewarded myself with a trip to the bookstore, where I picked up Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney.  I'm planning to settle in with it this afternoon, hopefully with a thunderstorm if the Florida summer weather does what Florida summer weather usually does in the afternoons.

A friend of mine mentioned on Facebook the other day that she was reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  When I saw her post, I immediately glanced over to my right, where my copy of it lived on the shelf with my other writing books.  It had always been one of my favorites, but I hadn’t read it in a long time so I couldn’t recall specifically why.  Then, this morning, the cat woke me up at 7, which he is wont to do, because he hasn’t figured out yet how to open cat food cans on his own.  Some weekend mornings I can plop some food in his dish and go back to sleep, but it didn’t happen today.  So I plucked my copy of Bird by Bird off the shelf, brewed some coffee, and spent Sunday morning on the couch re-reading it while the cat cavorted in a box top on the living room floor.  I was reminded of the value of shitty first drafts, small assignments (just writing the one scene that's in front of you, and not always worrying about the big, giant, overwhelming picture) and that you're not the only one who stares at the computer screen and worries about being a giant failure.

Giving myself permission to not write and to just have my weekend seems to have sparked something.  I’ve pulled out my notebook more than once to scribble down some ideas and vague plot points, even a chunk of dialogue.  I researched ghost-hunting equipment.  I knew I was inspired when I hauled the notebook out of my purse when we had a couple of beers at the brewpub on Saturday night.

I haven’t written that much this weekend, but that doesn’t bother me too much.  I connected with my story in other ways, and have some reading material to inspire me.  Some weekends are more productive than others, and I can accept that.


  1. Nice post! Cool blog too!

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  2. Awesome post, Jen. I agree that there are ways of "writing" even when you don't technically add to the word count. Muse maintenance is important. Friday night was a bust for me, too, but I think vacation had something to do with that. This Friday, though, it's ON. :D

  3. Viv, I agree. We are definitely on for this Friday night.

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