Nancy: The Long Road Home…and a Challenge

My happy place.

My happy (if unproductive) place.

I’ve done it. I’ve survived an intense 5-month-long stint at the day job that took me away from writing, home, and pretty much everything in life outside of work. With all of that behind me, I’ve had time to catch up on some sleep, re-read some favorite books (salve on the psychic wounds), and start relearning the daily rhythm of life.

The next logical step should be a triumphant return to writing. Pent-up story should be rushing through my veins. My characters should be whispering in my ear, telling me their deepest, darkest secrets, enticing me them to get them onto paper. Right?

Turns out, none of that’s as easy as it sounds. My story brain is stuck in neutral and I just can’t get it engaged.

In addition to rest and reading, I’ve also watched story in form of favorite shows and some movies, old and new. I’ve  set up a jigsaw puzzle by the back window of the house so I can look out over the forest behind us in all its springtime glory. But while I usually hear characters’ voices while I fit together the puzzle pieces, lately I just hear silence. Or worse. Sometimes I hear the list in my head of all the life stuff I still have to do. My endless to-do list. That’s a creativity killer, right there.

After putting my to-do list onto paper, browsing the most recent RWR magazine, and catching up on writing blogs (like this great one from Chuck Wendig with advice for young[ish] writers, and this post from Barbara O’Neal about following creative passion), I’ve run out of stalling tactics. Sometimes the only way to get through something is to trudge right the hell through it.

So today I’m going to skim the WIP I left hanging at the midpoint, then get my ass in the chair and the keyboard in front of me, and just pick up where I left off. I might get 10 new words on the page. I might get 100. They might be crap. If I’m lucky, at least one day this week I’ll break 1,000 words and they won’t all suck. And you can play along!

Each day, sometime before midnight East Coast time, I’ll stop by the comments and report my progress. If you’re writing this week, or think you should be writing, or are fighting through your own stalled progress, feel free to join in and share your results with the class! If you have words of encouragement or solace, please share those freely as well. I’ve got the computer fired up, wine at the ready (I’m bound to need it at some point before the day/night is over), and plans to throw words at the wall until at least a few of them stick. Care to join me?

19 thoughts on “Nancy: The Long Road Home…and a Challenge

  1. Nancy – yay! on making it through your project. I’m guessing your Girls and their creativity just need some time to readjust and get back into the rhythm. Your plan to at least start getting words onto the page is a good one. I may join you in that, but not today 🙂 Today is reading day.

    • I love reading days :-)! I have definitely enjoyed being able to put some reading time back into my schedule. I haven’t had the energy to tackle anything new, but I did buy myself three new books today and think I’ll start at least one of them this week. Happy reading!

  2. After 40 years in the IT world, I’m familiar with post-project–it’s not really depression as much as it is exhaustion. I always have trouble ramping up for a project, getting used to working long hours and having no free time. And I have just as much trouble ramping down when it’s all over. It takes a while for the pendulum to stop gyrating and settle into a more reasonable rhythm. But, eventually, it does, and the steps you’re taking are a lot like placing a gentle hand on that pendulum and slowing its wild ride.

    You’ll get there.

    And I may play along. I have two separate books that are in the plotting stage (which is pure hell for me–I don’t have a strategic cast of mind, so thinking about outcomes and consequences is hard for me (as my life will attest)). My goal will be scene counts–just coming up with causally-related scenes for either book (when I get stuck on one, I switch to the other).

    Catch you tomorrow!

    • The exhaustion is ebbing now, but I still feel weirdly anxious and out of sorts. Good luck with the plotting. To me, that’s another form of puzzle-solving. I found mind-mapping (my own super-OCD, over-organized form of it) to be immensely helpful when I was plotting my current WIP. And I have to pull out that mind map in the next few days to remember what the hell it is I plotted ;-).

  3. I find that it’s very hard to get back to a writing routine when I’ve been away from it for a while. The rhythm is just different; it’s hard to get off that work treadmill. Sounds like you’re doing everything right, though. I envy you that window with the table for puzzles!

    • The only problem with doing a puzzle in front of that window is that’s there’s no door on the room to keep the cats out of it, so each morning I pick up the pieces they’ve knocked to the floor.

  4. I envy you the view from the window, Nancy – the springtime forest looks breathtaking.

    You’ve had five straight months of exhausting project immersion and now you have to catch up with real life. It’s not surprising it’s taking a little time for your story brain to re-engage. With the help of wine, jigsaws and spring sunshine I’m sure you’ll get there. Look forward to finding out how many words the story gods send you (though in the short term it doesn’t really matter as long as they show up).

    I’ve got about 650 words so far, which is a little disappointing, but I’ve also realised the scene I’m writing has to do much more than I originally planned, and I’ve figured out how to make that work, so I’m feeling okay about my day. With luck I’ll get to 1,000 words by bedtime.

    • I feel very fortunate for the view! If it weren’t for the accompanying pollen, I’d be sitting out on the patio amongst the trees. But seeing from the inside is the next best thing. Good luck with your 1,000-word goal!

  5. I’ll join you Nancy. I’ve been trying to get back into my WIP in fits and starts since I had some major life crap about six months ago. I am writing… but lack the consistency and drive I had before. So… I could really use a check in system! I’ll be back tomorrow with news of progress (of lack thereof) and looking forward to hearing how you’re getting on. 🙂

  6. Tuesday word count: 329.

    The good news is: words on the page! The bad news is: the draft is in worse shape than I remembered. At one point, I had re-plotted (with the mind map approach) to fix a fatal flaw in the story. Unfortunately, there are still lots of scenes in the WIP with the old plot in them. More good news, though: now I have something to sink my teeth into and some motivation to do it!

    How did everyone else do today?

    • 640 words for me, but it was all blog post. I’m totally counting it though. Words are words.

      Yay for your 329 and for having something to sink your teeth into.

  7. Scene count as of EOD Tuesday: 10.

    Wednesday’s goal is more around discovery writing. We’ll see how that goes.

  8. Rewrote a scene, which was my goal for today. Looking at next scene now… it’s fixable (tomorrow’s goal), but I’m already aware that the scene afterwards is a bloated 4,000+ word nightmare, which just needs a hatchet taking to it.

  9. Sorry I didn’t post progress last night – my daughter was visiting (yay!) and it got late. I didn’t have real word count Wed, as I wrote scene summaries and scribbled notes. Probably several hundred words worth, maybe more, but I’m only counting new progress on the actual story right now. Still:

    New scene summaries: 5
    Scene ‘fixes’ summaries: 9

  10. Struggling to focus today – replanned a scene, but haven’t actually written a word of it. 😦

  11. I think your Girls have been very busy the last few months, running around and finishing the project. They might be tired, too! But it sounds like it’s time to get back in the saddle, and you are doing that. Good for you!

    I blamed my lack of progress in April on “back-to-school” stuff. Now it’s May, and we’ve had several days of holiday, which means lots of chauffering and travelling, and very little writing. I had a great visit with a friend, but I realized that allowing my Girls to engage in American politics is just detrimental to my story. I’m going to insulate myself from the news (please let me know, though, if the world comes to an end), and not worry about certain work issues which are chronic and not my job to solve.

    It IS time to get back to work. The months are slipping by . . . 1/3 of 2016 is gone, gone, gone.

  12. Thursday word count: 750

    In the interest of complete disclosure, I had 748 words and couldn’t stand not getting to 750, thus my passage ends: And so,

    I’ll see if I can tack anything onto that sentence as part of today’s word count :-). Now I’m off to think about something to write for Elizabeth’s writing sprint challenge. And I’m totally counting those words toward my Friday total!

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