Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Doldrums

Imagine that! A post about writing on a blog that purports to be a writing blog where I write about writing. That’s what I started out to do, at any rate. I guess I got in the way, or, perhaps, I wasn’t doing enough writing.

Currently, I’m enjoying feeling like a writer. Being in the deep throes of a first draft does that to me, especially when I’m pushing through that saggy, middle bit where even successful, bestselling authors claim to grapple with the notion that the manuscript is crap and despair of ever finishing it or, if they do, of making anything coherent out of it. I’m at that phase now, the horse latitudes of the first draft, what marathon runners call The Wall. The good news is, because of The Method, I am not flagging.

Noting again that everyone is different and that what is working for me may be a hindrance to you, I am encouraged by my progress. Forcing myself to reach a specific word limit every day means that, even during these dark days when I would usually do anything to avoid working on the novel, it is still moving forward at the same pace.

The advantages are numerous. The disadvantages are:

- Writing every day means just that. Writing. Every. Day. I don’t get to sleep in and tell myself I don’t have to do anything that day. I must get up. I must face the key board. I must not leave it until X number of words have been produced.

- What I am turning out is not a first draft, but more of a rough draft. I may be giddy with reckless optimism now, but at some point I am going to have to face that pile of words and try to make something out of it. I am trying to trust the process, but I have to admit that occasionally, late at night when I think about what I am proposing to do, my blood runs cold.

- Even though I generally finish my allotted number of words within an hour and a half to two hours, it leaves me drained, and I don’t feel like writing much else the rest of the day. This means my blogs are being neglected and needlessly obligates me to produce forced-sounding posts (like this one) periodically to keep them from feeling abandoned, like a parent who is too busy to get to junior’s oboe recital on time and takes him out for ice cream afterwards as a means of assuaging guilt.

But despite all of the disadvantages, they are mitigated by the fact that they are temporary; I expect to finish the rough draft soon, probably sooner than I had planned. After that, there are many more obstacles to come, but they are for other posts.

Who knows, maybe this writing blog will start to be about writing after all.


  1. That's the joy of blogging - no rules or regulations - just follow your nose!

  2. Hi Mike,

    I use 'The Method' too, and it works for me. It's amazing how quickly a novle can grow when you dedicate yourself to a certain amount of words per day. For me it's all or nothing: if I didn't do it that way, I wouldn't write anything. I agree, it is exhausting, too.

    Good luck with it!

  3. Jinksy: Well put!

    Marsha: Ah, another follower! Since I swtiched to words-per-day over time-per-day I've read about a number of authors who swear by it. And more than a few who insist that writing the first draft all at once is the best way to go. We're in good company.