I’ve had a less productive couple of weeks when it comes to writing. I don’t think it’s connected to my latest rejection, but I’m not ruling that out entirely.
I think its because I was trying to write about a subject that causes me some anxiety. I have been working on a parenting article about whether or not to allow toy guns in the house. Not exactly an earth shattering topic, but for some reason, the subject meant enough to slow me right down. I’ve been motivated to work on lots of other things, but not that. Facebook, exercise, improv, cleaning the bathroom, and writing this blog post all got done instead.
In avoiding my own writing, I was also able to critique other writer’s works, which I found profoundly satisfying. So its a misnomer to say that I wasn’t productive over the last couple weeks, but the writing hasn’t poured out of me as easily as it has in the past.
Productivity in general has never been an issue for me. I’ve always been a do-er. I always have a list I’m working on, usually three or four, and I feel guilty if I spend most of a day lounging and reading.
But recently I’ve noticed that I’m enjoying the time I do have to hang out and socialize in an entirely new way. Now I’m socializing as a writer. When I’m at a dinner party, in a bar, or at the theater, I’m not just there hanging out, I’m taking mental notes as well. I’m studying strangers as if they are characters in my book. I’m noticing what they’re wearing, how they wear their hair, the hint of an accent in their voice, and how they talk to their friends.
So maybe I’ve actually been more productive than I realize over the last two weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the connection (or the absence of one) between toy guns and handgun violence and about what it takes to “describe” a person fully.
In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about calling around. She says that writers spend a lot of time alone and it can make them crazy. She recommends taking little breaks to call around to learn specific things about the world so that it can be incorporated into your writing. She spent the better part of a day calling wineries to determine that the wire thingy that goes over the cork on a champagne bottle is a wire hood. Then the wire hood appears as the most memorable reference in one of her best selling books.
So maybe, productivity isn’t just about word count or the number of publications, but maybe it’s also about paying attention, even when you don’t know how a particular piece of information will be useful in the future.
I’ll be wrapping up and sending out my piece on toy guns tomorrow so that I can move forward. But I’m going to work hard not to judge the recent days with little writing.
I’m hoping tomorrow will be a fresh start to get me back on track toward actually getting some words on the page. I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo which begins on November 1st. I’ll be attempting to get 50,000 words down in 30 days. Please let me know if you’d like to join me for any part of this big new adventure.