For the past five years I have followed a pattern. An annoying, frustrating, ‘why the heck am I doing this?’ pattern! During the school term, I lament about the fact that my legal studies have taken me away from writing and I fantasize about the summer when all I’d have on my plate was lazy days writing. If I were to be honest, it was those fantasies that usually kept me going throughout the school year. I’d say things like, “Geez… think about when you can write for five hours on end instead of sneaking in an hour while you should be studying and feel guilty” or “Oh my gosh, can you imagine when you can actually sit in Starbucks people watching for your character box instead of revising?”. And, so it continued. Well… my final exam finished last Monday and I’ve (predictably) been having issues writing. I’m faced with that dreaded white space conflict each writer hates. I’d be worried except this happens every. single. year. Usually (as much as it kills me to admit this) I give up. Summer rolls to a close and I never finish my to-do list. I’m determined to make this year different (another thing I say every year) but I tried to think about why this is happening in the first place.
After lots of coffee and people watching I think I might have figured it out. I don’t actually write much more during the summer than I do during the school terms. In each case I write a lot less than I would like to. I have a standing (very realistic) goal of fourteen thousand words per week. This is well within my capabilities. Yet, I tend to come in at less than five thousand on my works in progress and I am notorious for skipping through my WIPs without committing to any of them. When I think of the time constraints I am faced with during school, it means that I actually write more while I am busy with law stuff. Surely, the opposite should be true – right? Right, except my mind is a dark, tricky place to be. The more I expect of myself, the more I am crippled with fear of failing. When I am in school, I am happy just to find some time to write and don’t usually get to drown in self doubts. Unfortunately when you take away the course work and readings I have no excuses to not put out the words I set out to and for them to be pretty damn good words. The knowledge that I am free to create weirdly becomes my albatross.
So, the good thing is that I’ve figured out the problem. The bad thing is that I have no idea how I am going to fix it. For the next week, though, I think I might forget about writing at all and catch up with some reading. Then, I will take the advice of Stephen King and write one word and then another and then another.
Wish me luck!