An Uncapped Pen

January 30, 2008

The Days of My Writing Week

Filed under: Writing — cindylv @ 6:30 pm
Tags: ,

My writing week begins on Friday. I sleep in, wake up when I feel like it. I grab a mug of coffee, stumble around the house, turn on the stereo, grab my notebook and we’re off to the races! I start with my morning pages (a three-page dump of whatever’s on my mind – and always ending with two positive affirmations).

Then I read over what I wrote last week and just dig in. I may scribble out a mind map of where I think I might want to go, the major scene beats, etc. But I just switch over to the laptop and flow along until evening and I’m too tired to think. I pour a nice glass of wine and relax.

On Saturday, I get up, get coffee and jump back in. I tinker a bit with yesterday’s work and gradually work my way up to a respectable speed. I quit a little after lunch and do chores/errands.

Sunday is church day. After church and lunch, I sit down and pick away at the piece. Progress is slow. Sunday’s not a good day to write. By Sunday, I’m spent. Nothing feels right. Nevertheless, I keep at it. Slogging away, sorting gravel (as Tim Hallinan says). I type two words and delete three, then type another one, then retype what I just deleted. Then I get up and wander around the house pinching off dead leaves from my houseplants . . . brushing my teeth . . . organizing my bottles for recycle . . . walking the dog . . . scooping out the cat box. But I keep returning to the keyboard to try and write as if nothing’s wrong.

A big chunk of my brain thinks the story is headed in one direction, and I continue typing along stubbornly following that path. I’d like to say “…when all of a sudden…BAM!”, but that’s not true. As I’m typing along this dead-end path, I’m dodging bullets, scrambling over boulders, edging along the precipice, patching plot holes with duct tape, leaping over ever-widening cracks in the foundation and ignoring all these warning signs, then, and only then . . .


The wall. Then comes the really good part. The part where I pretend not to have noticed all those indicators. And the tantrum begins, complete with expressions of shock and dismay that seem authentic even to me: the flailing, the gnashing of teeth, the renting of garments. This usually happens around 4 o’clock. I retreat to the tub with a bottle of wine.

Monday morning as I’m driving to work, I talk it over with myself. “This didn’t happen. I have not hit The Wall. There is no such thing as The Wall. I’m just tired is all. Tomorrow will be better. This isn’t a problem. This isn’t even a thing. Tomorrow will be better. ”

Tuesday‘s car talk: “How the heck did this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why does this happen to me? I hate writing! Writing hates me! I’ll just throw the whole thing in the trash! No, I’ll shred it first, then burn it, then grind the ashes into dust and then throw it in the trash! Get outta my way – ya jerk! Are you honkin’ at me?”

Wednesday. Before leaving for the office, I pull a few pages out of the shred pile. “Well, maybe if I just take this one section and try again. How ’bout if I get up early on Friday and dust all the lightbulbs before sitting down to write? Or if I organize all the pens and throw away the dead ones, it will look better. Or if I move the page numbers to the right hand corner in the footers, it won’t seem so bad. Or if I sit up straight and promise not to slouch all day. . .”

Thursday. “It’s no use. It is dead. Worthless. I’m a lousy writer. There is no hope. There is no sense even trying to fix this. In fact, the entire chapter is trash. The whole book. Who was I kidding? I can’t write, I never could write. People were just saying that to make me feel better. I’ll never write again…I’m never getting out of bed again…I’m calling in sick today.”

Friday. Wake up when I feel like it, grab coffee, turn on the stereo, brush the layer of cat fur off the top sheet. Hey, this isn’t that bad. I can see where I fell off track right back here. If I just back up a bit and tweak this part, I can get through this and move on to the next chapter. Hand me that pen, will ya?

How many more days til Friday?

(With all appropriate apologies to Dr. Kubler-Ross.)


1 Comment »

  1. This is great! I’ll have to figure out what my week looks like. I wonder if other people also go through the conspiracy theory/neurosis stage that I do. I start to fantasize that my writing life has been like the movie The Truman Show and I have absolutely no facility for it, but this vast infrastructure has been established so that anyone who sees my writing is required to delude me into believing maybe there’s some potential there — even though they all know the real truth, which is that I’m a hack.

    Comment by lisakenney — February 2, 2008 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

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