I stared blankly at the screen from my comfortable chair. I couldn’t recall how long I had been staring, been sitting, been conscious. My protruding belly served as a coaster. Cheez-It crumbs decorated my shirt and stuck to the condensation on my glass. I strained to lift the weight of my arms, to brush away the crumbs. Eventually the dog would discover me, and the crumb situation would be handled. I could wait.
That’s an analogy, by the way, but I can eat half a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting. The atrophy of my physical muscles from inactivity easily parallels those of my writing. Just like re-establishing a workout regimen, it can be an uphill battle to start creating again. It’s a painful process, working those author muscles that want me to ignore them. I hope some time off at Christmas will help me build some real momentum. Not like New Year’s resolution gym membership momentum, but something that will actually last.
There are plenty of things surrounding writing that aren’t really “writing”. Some time spent just sitting and thinking is valuable, but it’s easy to extend that time beyond what’s fruitful. I’ve been fighting through outlining my next novel with little regard for short fiction or blog entries, until one day I was compelled to write a story. It had to be written, before I talked myself out of it and spent the time on outlining or stuff I needed to do around the house. It was like going for a jog after months recovering from an injury. I think I pulled something. I was definitely exhausted after two thousand words or so. Just like after a good workout, I enjoyed the fruits of my efforts.
My new plan, keeping in mind that the outline still needs to get done, is to allow myself writing time every day. Even if I only get ten or 15 minutes, I can’t afford to lapse and atrophy again. I’ll write anything that comes to mind. I’ll start with the three or four other projects I’ve dreamed up. I haven’t given them time to gestate because they don’t seem as fleshed out or commercially viable as the novel I’m outlining, but it certainly won’t hurt to start writing them. I’ll see where my imagination takes them, just to keep limber and toned. I’ll explore short story and blog ideas when they come, and maybe some will take shape. If I don’t start writing them, I’ll never know.
I’ve toyed with the idea of contracting a highly recommended writing coach, someone to help me finish the outline more quickly and start writing the novel. After the years it took me to finish my first novel, I know there must be a better way, a more efficient way, to get my novels written. I’ve long been hesitant to do this, due to the cost and difficulty admitting I need help. Now I think it might be the long-term investment I need to make if I want to seriously pursue a career as a novelist.
Are you struggling to gain momentum with anything important to you? Leave me a comment, and we can help each other get past what’s slowing us down.