Day 38 – Unproductive and uninspired can still amount to something

Day thirty-eight of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: 40 minutes

Words: 500

Today was not a very productive writing day. I guess I’ll have those sometimes. It was tough to pick up the story where I left off because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take it. I also got a very late start which did not help. Exhaustion was thick. Motivation and creativity were thin. After very little time I realized that I’m probably better off breaking and picking it up again tomorrow.

Despite it being a short and uninspiring writing session, it wasn’t all for naught. It isn’t anything special, but in the interests of reminding myself later that even the tough days are worthwhile, here is a paragraph I wrote a little while ago:

Mike looked around one last time and pushed open the back door. In the low, late afternoon sun he stepped out onto the street. The frigid air turned his breath into small, white puffs of cloud, prompting him to button up his coat. As he did, he noticed the long, ominous shadows cast by the nearby buildings. It was getting late. He looked left and right, at a loss for where Skylar and Ben would have gone. About four hours had passed since they had been there; they could be anywhere. Mike walked back to the door of the restaurant and turned around to face the street again. Imagining himself fleeing from someone, he tried to figure out which direction they might have run. He took off straight and then turned to the left, jogging down the sidewalk. Seeing all of the buildings and intersecting side streets ahead of him, he stopped. It was no use.

Day 36 – It happened

Day thirty-six of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: 2 + hours

Words: 2,400

Well, it happened. On day 34, I didn’t do any writing. I was on a mini vacation with my family and we had a full day with good friends. By the time I had a moment to myself…well, wait – I never did have a moment to myself. I went to sleep late with two out of three kids in my bed and that’s the end of the story. The funny thing is, I didn’t feel badly about losing a day of writing. Instead, I woke up the next morning determined to write more than usual for the rest of the long weekend. And I did. I wrote 1,500 words yesterday and 2,400 today, amply making it up. I’m happy with that. 

Not writing for a day for the first time in 34 days got me thinking about how far I have come in that time. Writing daily has not yet become a habit, but it has become a solid priority. I have to work hard at it. Finding time to write is not easy for me. While I can’t deny that I feel a bit of guilt for not abiding by the no days off mantra this past weekend, I have to cut myself some slack. My main goal in doing this project is to make writing a constant in my life and to consistently work on it. As of today (day 36) I’m accomplishing that. 

If you wish to be a writer, write.  – Epictetus

 

Here is a raw, unedited snippet from my current piece of fiction:

She gathered herself, opened the bathroom door and walked straight to the back of the restaurant. The dining room was dark and alive with lunch-goers talking politics, weather and holiday plans. Waiters were hovering around the waitstaff station, entering orders and pouring glasses of water. Skylar saw the door to the kitchen behind the waitstaff station. Just go in. She took a deep breath and walked past the waiters into the bright white light of the kitchen.

Inside it was hot and noisy. Steam was rising from the dishwasher station in the back and line cooks were plating food and yelling table numbers to the servers. Skylar walked slowly through the commotion, looking side to side in case anyone might approach her. No one did. As she neared the back she stopped by a large walk-in cooler at the end of a short hallway. On either side it was bordered by shelves filled with non-perishable bulk food items. There, standing by a mop and bucket in the shadows, was Ben. He stepped out into the light and gave her a polite nod.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” said Skylar, looking back over her shoulder to see if anyone else was there. They were alone. Ben was not much taller than she, wearing brown corduroy pants and a grey hooded sweatshirt. He had dark brown hair that was a little too long and very curly. His chin, jawline and upper lip were covered in dark stubble, as though he had not shaved in days. Skylar thought he looked much the same as he did in high school, just older. His eyes showed strain and worry.

“You don’t have to be afraid,” he said, noting her nervousness. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promise. I want you to be safe,” he said, taking a step toward her as she took a step back. “I see…I see that you have been in contact with them. They haven’t hurt you, have they?” He looked genuinely concerned.

“No. But I was followed,” she began, Ben’s eyes flying open as he leaned to one side to peer past her. “No, not here,” she continued, “I am pretty sure I wasn’t followed here. I mean, I lost him. He was following me earlier. I lost him in the subway.”

Day 32 – When you just aren’t into it

Day thirty-two of My 365 Day Writing Project

Time: 50 min.

Words: 850

I didn’t feel like writing at all today. In fact, I really wanted to blow it off and go to bed early. I didn’t. I made myself stay up late and I wrote. Discipline. Always reminding myself: No days off

Sometimes I can’t stop thinking about the story I am writing. No matter what I am doing – taking a shower, eating lunch, busy at work, in the car singing with my kids – I want to work on the story. I want to keep it developing on paper, not just in my mind. I want to write. I can’t wait for the opportunity to sit down, uninterrupted, to work on it. I look forward to banging out my thoughts through the tapping keys of my laptop. I want to write. I can feel it in my bones. My imagination is bulging like a balloon with too much air in it, about to POP. My psyche is crowded and loud and hyperactive like a subway station, thoughts and words and ideas blowing in and out of tunnels like the trains. I want to write.

Today was just not one of those times. But I wrote anyway.

 

Day 14 – Commuter writing

Day fourteen of my 365 Day Writing Project

Time: 2 hours

Words: 2,200

Today, I traveled from NYC back to Vermont after spending a fabulous weekend there with my oldest daughter (8 yrs) and my good friend and her daughter. We had an amazing trip. It was my daughter’s first time in the City and she was clearly in love with all it had to offer. I have very little NYC experience so as much as I was enjoying everything myself, watching her wide-eyed, awe-struck demeanor for two and a half days straight was priceless. I’ll never forget how great it was.

Our days were full from the moment we got up to the moment we went to bed. This made it very difficult to find time to write. I managed to write very little on Day 12 and 13. To be exact, I wrote a handful of sentences barely worthy of an entire paragraph. Maybe seventy-five words each day. Really. Exhausted from our busy day in the City, I fell asleep both nights before I could even get into the swing of writing. But I feel like I made up for it today. I wrote during most of the train ride to Albany. It was the perfect time to write, especially since my mind was fresh and active from my City experiences of the previous two days. Not only did I jam out a nice chunk of writing, but I also found the commute passed by very quickly. Now I am home, enjoying the feel of a fun and exciting weekend with some good writing accomplished.

Win – win.

Day 2 of My 365 Day Writing Project

Day two.

Time: 2 1/2  hours

Words: approximately 1,400

It feels good to get words on the page, even if it is late and I just want to go to bed. I feel like I could keep writing but I need to get to sleep if I am going to make it through my busy day tomorrow. So, I stopped. I had to. I stopped right in the middle of a fairly intense part that I didn’t know was going to happen when it did. The story went there, I went with it for a glorious couple of hours, but then I stopped before I could finish. I hope I don’t regret it when I try to pick up where I left off tomorrow. Is this where the discipline part comes in?

Today was an interesting day in which to find time for writing. I did steal about 30 minutes while on a break at work, which was disjointed but still productive. I took the kids to a volunteer event after dinner tonight, so by the time my husband and I got them to bed and I sat down to write, it was approaching 10:00 pm. This is not ideal for a working mom. Getting up early to get the kids to soccer camp and daycare in the morning, as well as taking on a busy day at the office sounds nightmarish at the moment. I’m so tired and wired right now. I probably won’t be able to fall asleep until close to 1:00 am.

At some point I will think about whether morning sessions will work better, but for now, I’ll let my day unfold and steal time as I find it. If that means it isn’t until the day is done and I have to stay up late, so be it. If I must cut myself off while “in the zone,” even mid-sentence, to make sure I get a decent night’s sleep, so be it. It is all about maintaining a balance in all facets of my life, while still finding time to write. Every day.

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if I was able to pick up where I left off. Fingers crossed.