After the tea dunking of my laptop last month, writing had been going very slowly for me. Part of that was due to writing longhand, so I bought a cheapo wireless keyboard. It took me a few days to get used to it, but soon I was ready to rock and roll.
Except I didn’t. I wrote. Every day. But it was like pulling teeth: numb yet painful and slow. The words came, but not easily.
I’ve always prided myself on my self-awareness, so I didn’t hesitate to try to unpack what the heck was going on. At first I thought that maybe I had internalized the criticism from the Kickstarter author more deeply than I had originally assumed, but that wasn’t it. The critique had energized me and sharpened my focus instead of discouraging me.
Then I thought that maybe it was the story itself. Was it boring? Dry? Dumb? Not really, although I did discover that one of my main characters is only externally motivated. He just wanted to mope about being separated from the other characters when I wanted to him to push forward. Luckily he really bogged down right at the point where I had planned to introduce another character. Once she showed up on the scene, he perked right up. And yet the words still didn’t flow.
Maybe it was my inner editor? I’m not often plagued by that, but I had been reading an awful lot of writing books, blogs, etc. I had wound myself pretty tightly wanting to get it right, but when I examined my feelings, that desire didn’t really pertain to the first draft. I really, truly just wanted to get the first draft out.
A couple of weeks had passed by this point. Words came every day, but they still came slowly. I changed up my playlists, stopped reading articles, and tried writing exercises. Nothing was working.
Finally, I figured it out. It was a form of inner editor issues. I had limited myself to 30-60 minutes to write each morning so as not to interfere with my evening time with my kiddos. I work full-time, so I didn’t get to spend nearly the time with them that I’d like. The pressure to spend time with my family was at war with my desire to write, so when I did write, I had to really go fast and make the time count. I wasn’t concerned with getting everything perfect in the first draft, I was hung up on efficiency, which, of course, deep-sixed the very thing I was concerned about.
So over the Thanksgiving holiday, I told my kids that I was going to write until 9am. They could get my attention if they needed it, but I asked them to bug their dad instead. Thankfully, my husband is incredibly supportive of my writing, and he was on board.
And it worked. All I needed was to give myself more time. Now everything feels good and like it’s flowing well. The words don’t fight me, They come when I call, just as they always have. I still don’t get to spend the sort of time I’d like with either my writing or my children, but it’s better. I’m writing. That’s all I ever wanted.