I’ve had a nagging feeling of late that I haven’t accomplished much in terms of creative writing. My morning pages has fallen by the wayside, I wasn’t putting in work in the evenings besides a scribble here and there. After putting in a ton of work and submitted several pieces between January and mid-March, I seem to have lost direction.
Was it because I’ve felt scattered, distracted by work in life? Was it something else? What have I been working on, anyway?
So, like every good little worker bee, I made a list.
And I recorded seven different in-progress fiction and essay pieces (eight if you count the NaNoWriMo draft I’ve been avoiding since late November, and 23 if you also include the untitled-paragraphs-leading-to-a-piece-in-progress clusters lining my journal).
What the hell. No shit, I’ve lost direction.
(If anyone out there feels that this is reasonable, please let me know.)
Juggling multiple projects does make sense to me. I do this all the time at work, whether on writing tasks or otherwise. What I’ve learned about myself is that having some sort of alternative task is necessary when I need a mini break, or feel stuck, or am just bored. Otherwise my mind will wander and I’ll start thinking about dinner and what I need to buy from the grocery store to make my lunches for the next week and if I am reading enough and when the last time was that I talked to so-and-so and if I should change jobs and if I should change jobs and worry why I wasn’t better at math so that I could be an engineer and have a great job in a functioning workplace like my SO and if I should buy those tennis shoes that are still in my Amazon cart. Because that’s my head.
But as I’ve learned about myself recently (or, knew for a while but didn’t fully admit to myself), I do an amazing job at setting up roadblocks for myself. If I never finish the essay, then I won’t be rejected. If I find myself busy with work, then I won’t have the time to write and grapple with the constant frustration and waves of near-crippling self-doubt that comes with it.
Or… if I revise this essay and then draft a short story and scribble some thoughts for something shapeless-at-the-moment, I can feel busy and writer-ly without going anywhere. As if treading water is swimming.
I’m calling bullshit on myself for all of that sort of thinking. Writing is a process* but that doesn’t negate the final product.
It’s a new week, and an opportunity for a new approach. Morning pages and focus on one to two projects at a time. Which ones? It doesn’t matter, but only one to two.
I have goals and treading water isn’t going to get me there.
* This is the only thing I learned in grad school.