Here’s what happens to me: I’m writing a novel and it’s great, the idea is as enticing as cupcakes, and I’m enjoying getting the words on the page. It swims along for about 150 pages. Then: crash. I take walks. I find myself wondering if the plot of this Adam Sandler movie I just hated might be a better twist than the one I’d thought of, I read Murakami and have lots of green tea, I eat chocolates (I do that anyway)… point is, writing becomes work. And it never stops being work after that. Sure, I’ll have breakthroughs, and I’ll write for a while in spurts, but it’s never again the easy, fun, excitement of the initial ride.
And then the editing starts and the work is actually tough and painful. Bye-bye, two-pages of fantastic writing about cupcakes.
There are no rules in literary fiction, maybe that’s why it’s so satisfying to write it. But because there are no rules you can’t possibly know when “the flowchart” is ready to hit your boss’ desk. Why can’t I leave the cupcakes in? Proust would. But here’s what happens to me: I miss the fun. A week of this hard work goes by and I get a great idea for a new project…or…I write a blog post. Oh those blogs. And emails. And articles we get paid to write. And random other piecemeal work (anyone passed out free samples for money before? I have…)
I want to introduce you to @YuviZalkow a writer-with-kids who I think has a great blog. He’s doing the hard thing and giving up making his hilarious videos for a specific period of time in order to work on his writing. We can all take a lesson from him.
(now please forgive me if the link takes you to a later blog-posting. the video i want to share with you is embedded in a blog entry called Project Mismanagement. it’s four minutes long, and it raises a great question. What has to go?)
Let’s think of our lives as a novel we have to edit. He does it by making a pie chart, but I suggest creating a plot outline where you start as a writer who has kids and you end as a writer with kids who has a book deal.
Prioritize. Figure out where you want your life-plot to go. Edit down the chapters that don’t help.
If you have artistic tendencies and want to email any of your charts to me, I’d be happy to post them.