Wednesday, February 18, 2015

All Aboard The Creativity Train

My writing productivity has gone down considerably in the past five years, and I never really could figure out why. I mean, what's causing it? The desire to write is still very much there. I've always figured it had something to do with living the mom life (and schedule), or it's the obligations, the endless stream of weekly errands, etc. Whatever the case, not knowing the exact why has been driving me bonkers, especially lately. I want to find the problem and fix it, so I can get my writing mojo back.

It's been a very frustrating soul search to say the least. Years ago, before I ever attempted publishing, I'd write at least a novel a year and tuck it into a special box under the bed. Why don't I do that anymore? Why can't I do that anymore? I can put in hours at the computer and still feel like nothing gets accomplished. Nothing publishable, anyway.

In January, I started looking at how my writing and process has changed over the years. I've been looking at everything from where I've been writing, to what I was using to write with (originally a Smith Corona electric typewriter - that was in 1993.) It recently occurred to me that it wasn't until a couple of years after I had Mini Beast that my productivity dropped off a steep cliff never to be recovered again. It didn't happen when he was an infant, though. Why is that? One would think it would only be natural for one's writing productivity to take a nosedive with an infant in the house. However, I wrote a lot of material - three published novellas, and two full novels - with him swaddled against me in a baby sling. I'd set music playing in my office, (Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day was a favorite then), and while he fussed, or slept, or just rested against me, I'd write.

So when did things change? When did I lose that productive spark?  I had to really think about this, but I'm pretty sure it was when Mini got too big for me to hold and write at the same time. I deliberately and completely upended my old writing schedule to do the mama thing. I would rock him in the recliner til he fell asleep. Most of the time, I fell asleep too. *fond memories* I wouldn't give up those times for anything; they're very precious to me. In terms of writing, however, this was when my writing productivity took a swift downward curve.

My old schedule was to write from around nine at night to about four in the morning. Those were my peak hours. I'm not entirely sure why those are my peak hours, but I think it has something to do with not many friends being online, no stores in my area being open aside from the Circle K, and if there's a problem bothering me, there's really nothing I can do about it at that hour anyway. So, free from distractions and worry, I can write. Of course, this just an uneducated guess.

I obviously couldn't keep my old schedule with a kid in high school and a toddler at home, so I tried to taper my schedule around my family. That has never worked very well for various reasons, but mostly because my best ideas have always come to me at night. That's when my characters are chattiest. I can't count the number of times I've had to climb out of bed and run to my office to jot down an idea before it could slip my mind.

Last year, my hubby bought me a Kindle Fire HD. I love it. Seriously, love. Before the Fire, I used a second generation Kindle with a grayscale screen and actual page scroll buttons. I have to admit I didn't use it as often as I use the Fire. I didn't like that the old Kindle wasn't back lit. The page scrolling was clunky feeling. I couldn't read it in bed at night without leaving the lamp on.

After I got the Fire, I joined Kindle Unlimited, and I go through quite a few ebooks per week. Three or four on average. Now I'm starting to use the Fire for other things - checking emails, surfing the web, homework help, research, etc. I'm also using more apps. There are two writerly apps that work on the Kindle Fire that I really like: Polaris Office, and Notebooks Pro. Polaris has more features (you can import word documents, etc), while Notebooks Pro has an easy to use, bookshelf-style document storage system that I really like. At any rate, both are simple writing applications that allow you to write in-app and share your work via email. These programs have done wonders for my writing productivity.

Anyway, for the past couple of nights I've had major writing binges, reaping between 2-4 k words each session. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this. I haven't had writing binges like this in years. So this morning, I had to ask myself what's different. What's the change?  Why are the words suddenly flowing again? As much as I love my Fire, I don't believe for an instant that it's the device. I've had an iPod Touch for a long time, It's backlit. I have several writing apps on it that I've used here and there. I could've used that for writing in bed at night if it was just about having a handy device.

This morning while going over some of the words I wrote last night (over 2k, I'm thrilled to report) it finally dawned on me what has changed - my writing schedule. That's what's different. I'm writing at night again, during my peak hours. What can I say?  It's no secret that some writers are morning writers, some are evening writers, etc. etc. My muse (my characters' voices) has always preferred to show up between midnight and four a.m... I simply haven't been meeting up with her for conversation and coffee like I used to do. I haven't been showing up on time to catch the creativity train.

So I get it now. For years, I've been standing around on the writing platform all day long waiting for the creativity train to show up, not realizing my brain's natural schedule has the train arriving at midnight. That's the reality of it. I've tried other schedules, and they simply don't work for me. What a simple fix. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to grasp this.

Even as a small child, I was a night owl. (My poor mother!) And ever since I was in middle school, I've had terrible insomnia. What's worse is that when I'm not writing at night, I lie awake in bed and toss and turn. I can't turn my thoughts off in order to rest.  I think it's because my body clock knows. I don't know why or how, it just does. It knows when I could...or maybe should... be writing.

I'm a night writer. I've stopped fighting it, and now I'm writing again - actual, good, usable words. It's really freeing to just accept it, do it, and charge full speed ahead. My productivity is way up simply by changing my writing schedule to what feels natural for me. At midnight, when I settle in at my computer or with my Kindle Fire, it's as if my characters are already there on the platform, waiting to ride out those peak writing hours with me. ♥♥♥

3 comments:

  1. Hi Cora, I'm so happy to read that you're writing again. I didn't know that you had writing problems. I really enjoyed your shapeshifter books. Happy writing!

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  2. Hi Peggy, you're one of my favorite internet people. Thanks for dropping by. I've had a stressful go with writing these past two years, sadly. I think I'm finally on the mend, though. So glad you liked the Werekind books. They're out of print now, but in the future I hope to create a single volume omnibus edition with all the stories - including a few new ones - to wrap up the series. Not sure when I'll be able to do that, but it definitely deserves a well done send off. ☺I hope all is well with you. Wishing you all the best.

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    1. Hi Cora, thanks! That's so sweet of you. The same goes for you. I didn't know that the Werekind books were out on print now. I have re-read them a couple of times. I can't get enough of them. I'm looking forward to the new stories. You have time to write them. When you're ready, I'm sure the wolves and their stories will come to you. Wishing you also all the best. Peggy

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