setting intentions for August, or how to write through the swamp of late summer
English isn't my native language, so, please, forgive me if something is not clear or seams strange. I just started writing, after my retiring, and, yes, it is so hard to do! I'm still trying to find the ways to make it easier. It seems that my mind is much more creative at creating obstacles and procrastinating than it is at creating stories. Anyway, I keep trying. Thanks for your thougs and tips.
Like so many others, I find my creativity comes in spurts. Over the span of less than 20 months, I've had three books published by traditional publishers, had one of them drop dead (heart attack, dying intestate), lost many hours getting my rights back, uploaded a four-novel series (including the two the deceased publisher had released), and then self-published a novella and a pair of plays.
I am now in a "consolidation" mode. I have sketched another novel completely, but written almost none of it. I am also trying to learn a little about self-publishing (e.g., the issue of Kindle Select vs. publishing "wide"), and familiarizing myself with various platforms (including substack).
On another front, I am a classical musician (composer), but I haven't composed a note in over a year. I am again dealing with some musical "realities" of a different sort.
Bottom line: even at "rest," the creative juices continue to stir. When the time is right, I shall go back to the "creative" side. At present, I must attend to other, more pressing matters. Good luck to all of us!
I was kind of drifting from my book project, writing short stories and poems unrelated to it. Now I’m working on my first newsletter on it’s topic and everything is falling into place. I devote my afternoons to writing, and need a bit of pressure to be disciplined. I do take most of the weekend off to relax and be present with my family. It’s nice to give my brain a break.
This paragraph 'Finding ease might be about process' woke my mind up hehe
I've been kicking myself lately ... I have query letters out to agents, I've done (I think) as many revisions of my book as makes sense right now, it's time to start something new while the current project percolates on the periph. But I haven't had the mojo to start something new. Then came you.
And helped me remember that it all counts. Right now I have a summer job that involves writing. Not creative writing. But it involves putting words together succinctly; thinking about rhythm and tone; about getting it right. And so I'm giving myself some grace right now. Thanks for that. Sometimes just hearing that it's okay to lighten up is enough to make me think, "I could just write for five minutes." Appreciate you and this wonderful post, Nancy!
Perfect timing as I reset on my writing goals for the next month (allowing grace for all that didn't get accomplished on the previous list!). I love the reminder to "trust that the work is happening" and to reduce the intensity and pressure to get it all done. For me, I do better to NOT try to squeeze in writing in between all the other obligations and tasks during the day (easier to say since I'm only on my own personal writing deadlines and not a publishers). When my early morning writing time is up (or if it gets swallowed by external forces, which will happen) I trust there will be tomorrow, and that my mind is doing its own work away from the page. I want to be there, writing, but I want to be here in my life, too. So, I'm always seeking that balance.
Yes I came here from Jane Friedman's blog, I loved your article about how this newsletter helped you find an agent and eventually publish your book. One thing I've gotta say is that you're a more patient person than I am!
Regarding your first question, "what does intensity in creativity mean to me?" what intensity means, in relation to my creative writing, is that I don't necessarily sit down at the keyboard and try to wring out words from my brain like a wet sponge. what intensity means to me is that I do some thinking and introspection away from the keyboard (as you suggested, walks, lunches with out a phone, etc) and work through my ideas, what i'm feeling, so that when I sit down to write I'm simply documenting my journey, what I thought about, and what I arrived at.
I really enjoy your writing, your suggestions for writing exercises, just subscribed and very glad to be here!
To me, intensity in writing means being so focused that I lose track of myself and of time. But de-coupling from technology is a good way to get there.
Truth is, we can't get away from the activities of daily living--cooking, exercising, gardening, housecleaning. But maybe we don't need to. Just take notes and during the period allotted for writing, double down. Or, in your own words, just write, and "be less careful."
Process has definitely helped me, having a morning routine of writing before work work so that if I then don't manage any writing time for the rest of the day then I'm content. But intensity comes in waves. Sometimes it there and bursting, other times I'm fighting for it, other times it eludes me completely and I don't want to write.
But, Substack has helped that last one remain at a very minimal frequency ☺️
Love the powerful message in such a clear and understandable way. Very inspirational! ❤️
So beautiful ❤️
It’s so funny you ask this right now, because I am juuuust re-entering creative work, and doing so while recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome. CFS symptoms worsen when intensity gets too high, and when you follow push/crash patterns, so the ambitious methods I used all my life are really no longer available to me. I got so much done working that way! I also was inconsistent, and I eventually got incredibly sick! And now, recovery from this type of syndrome asks of me the complete opposite: small bites, within capacity, consistently. I hate all those words. 😄 Not really, but I have truly believed forever that I was not capable of any of them, that they were simply not part of my process.
So, for me, an ambitious process means trusting in a process where I do ten minutes, most days, where I seek an outcome of fun rather than an outcome of word count or finished tasks, and one where I actually do that for weeks and months on end, increasing by a minute or two as capacity allows.
I am not big on ambition anymore. It leads me by the wrong values and would have me override health needs for word counts and outputs. So for me the authentic ambitious process really is this consistent teeny tiny one, this one where I learn by doing that doing is fun again, is safe again, and where I prove to myself I am capable of long term consistency. (I have faith and doubt in myself in equal shares, but at least I am finally facing the right form of ambition for myself!)