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The Non-writing Writing
8/3/2018 10:41:00 PM by: Susan Lyttek

I’ve been getting mad at myself lately for not getting as many words onto paper as I would like. I even signed up for Camp NaNo this summer and failed to meet the teeny goal I set. It’s not that I didn’t get any writing done, but it was much less than I feel I am capable of. So I’ve spent this week giving myself a thousand lashes with an imaginary wet noodle. In other words, I’ve been beating myself up about it. I’m a writer.

Fortunately, I took one afternoon to catch up on my back issues of Writer magazine. I had five of them that I had barely touched on. I don’t know which issue it was, but it talked about alternative ways of being productive as a writer. (I think the author was a guy so I’ll refer to the author as ‘he’. I didn’t keep the issues after I read them.) He said that most writers can’t write every day.  There are superstar writers that do. For instance, I read in another issue that Jane Yolen writes a poem every single day and has for many years. But most of us can’t keep that up. We need non-writing writing to stoke the creative fires.

I know he said something about doing nothing, when you’re a writer is not doing nothing. I think he gave examples from his life. I don’t remember. But it resonated and I thought about it. I haven’t written a ton this week, but I made progress if I think about it without grading myself by word count.

  1. For Mapmaker, I found Bible verses to support my hero’s world and challenges.
  2. For the novella Stolen Kisses, I rediscovered the plot perimeters in another file and meditated about how the hero and heroine meet. I also gave her a horrible job to give her motivation to do something crazy.
  3. For Guzzy and the Long Road, I wrote a phone conversation between his dad and a friend’s dad.
  4. I wrote a guest blog post.
  5. I wrote this blog post.
  6. For the next Hortense, I read a bunch of fairy tales and decided which of the next two books they’d fit best in. I also dreamed parts of her story. I’m thinking she might disguise herself as a guy in her version of Aladdin. Not sure yet. Still playing with it.
  7. And I read my issues of Writer and found reassurance for my craft and the way my brain works.

All told, I might have written 1500 to 2000 words this week. I can do that in a day. But as long as I keep moving projects forward, it is progress and I have to remind myself of that.

I know I’ve posted on a similar theme before. It’s God’s way of reminding me that I can’t do it all and be a super-achiever every day. Some days, some weeks need to feed the creativity instead.

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