Hello and welcome to another anecdotal edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
As many of you surely know by now, I’ve been having a rough time lately. My family and I are still shacked up in the hotel (though, hopefully, our nearly 2-week long stay will be over tomorrow or Saturday, so long that the repairs to our pipes go well) which has made not just for financial stress but social stress as well. It’s not easy living with five people in the same room.
One of the hardest parts, for me, has been turning off the light at 8:30 and sitting in the dark. I have my laptop to entertain me, but I’ve worn out the few games I have on it and, as most everyone surely knows by now, I draft my creative projects longhand and so my computer is almost useless to me in that regard.
For the first week of our stay, I wrote as much as could while the lights were still on and settled in with my kindle, or played a video game on my laptop when the lights went out. The problem with that was: well, there wasn’t actually a lot of writing getting done during that lights-on time. Between eating our nightly takeout, the TV being on, and the kids – not having all their typical forms of entertainment – needing my attention more than usual, my nightly word output was… lacking. Half the time I didn’t get anything done at all.
Now, I don’t believe in any advice that deals in absolutes.
Always use ‘said’ or never use adverbs. Write every day. Only write what you know.
You get the idea.
So, it would have been really easy to just forgive myself for not being able to write during a really difficult few weeks. But, by the start of the second week, not only did I have a wealth of creative energy pent up, but I needed a way to vent my ever increasing anxiety (anxiety about how messy our room was getting, anxiety about the cost, anxiety about my dogs who have been staying at my mother’s, anxiety about how much longer it would be, etc). We were stuck in a holding pattern. There was nothing for me to do to make our situation better.
Monday evening ended up being really busy. My son just started a regimen of allergy shots and it was my daughter’s first day back in gymnastics after the gym shut down for COVID concerns last year. By the time I got a chance to take my shoes off, it was already time to tuck the babies in and turn out the lights.
And I still hadn’t done anything.
Exhausted, yet still unable to sleep and having worn out all my usual tricks, I mulled my options. I could drive back to my house for a few private hours only to return when I needed to pee or sleep, whichever came first. I could go straight to bed and catch up on sleep. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to write. And to write, I needed light. So, I went to the bathroom, notebook in hand, and sat down on the floor.
My phone was nearly dead so I had left it on the charger. I was completely without distractions for the first time in weeks.
I’d love to tell you I wrote 10,000 words without breaking a sweat and went to bed exhilarated. But my mama didn’t raise no liar.
Three pages, just over 1000 words, in about 90 minutes was what I managed before my aching back (and ass for that matter) told me it was time to pack it in. I was worn out mentally and physically, and I told myself it hadn’t been worth it for such a modest output.
Then, the strangest thing happened. I got up in the morning and felt just a little bit lighter. Not only had I gotten over a bit of creative block I’d had following a monster of a scene that took me weeks to complete, but I’d actually helped ease some of the tension I’d been carrying around. Writing had been a fresh distraction, with an added bonus of allowing me to feel productive for a change. It felt good.
So I went back the next night. And I’ll probably go back again tonight. Because sometimes, writers just gotta write.
I completely meant for this blog post to be kind of a generalized thing about how to write in the creases, even if your creases is just one big chunk on a bathroom floor, but… well. Here we are.
Hoping to have a book review for you on Tuesday but I honestly don’t know if I’m going to finish in time. If not I’ll see you next Thursday. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.