This last week was so different from my norm of the previous few months. I could get down on myself, or I can use it as a learning experience that I’ll take with me into my next holiday time (in about three weeks from now 🥳)
Review 12th to 18th April 2021
My writing goals for last week were:
- Make changes and clean up Acts 1 and 2a of the index cards for Deniable Unit #1: Working the Asset (DU#1)
How Did It Go?
Uhh, it didn’t really go. I got around 25% of the work done, and that was like pulling teeth.
Well, after my mandatory level of caffeine intake, I sat myself down like I usually do: herbal tea, some Ludovico Einaudi, my notes, and two stacks of index cards … but my normal work vibe was missing. I couldn’t focus on the job and struggled to get just one scene done on Monday.
On Thursday, Ludovico went from calming to fudging irritating and was promptly replaced by silence. I managed to clean up and change eleven card sides (two scenes), boiling them down to just four. I was finally starting to feel the work vibe coming back.
Or so I thought.
Friday presented a new issue. As I worked on the meet-cute scene cards—all nine card sides—and found it almost impossible to reduce the number of cards needed. The content of the scene was similar, but a lot of the detail had changed. I gave up in frustration, certain I’d see things a bit clearer on Saturday.
After a couple of hours tinkering on Saturday, I realised why I had trouble boiling the scene down to a basic index card outline. I knew too much. The sequence was too vivid in my head, and I feared that I’d forget all the banter and nuances over time. I was paralysed, unable to move on. This is not an unfounded fear for me.
I’ve made notes in the past, knowing I’d remember the fine details that made it a great scene. But I didn’t. I’d lost the essence of the scene; it still turned out pretty good, but it wasn’t what I originally had in my head.
So, to end my writing paralysis, I decided to write the parts of the scene that wouldn’t let me go—not in full detail, but enough that I get a sense and feel for its flow. After getting it down, I felt free of the weight of knowing too much and was raring to go on Sunday.
Saturday night and Sunday morning had different plans for me. I had an allergic reaction (the third in six weeks) to new pain medication and had to give up on the idea of being verticle or anything more flavourful than water or plain potato.
What Caused The Lack Of Work?
I think it’s as simple as I’m supposed to be enjoying downtime. It’s not exactly a break when you’re still working—even at a reduced pace. The human and chimp parts of my brain both wanted the same thing: to down tools and have fun. And, when both parts of the brain want the same thing, it’s nigh on impossible to force the opposite on it. (You can find the whole neuroscience behind the chimp and human brain thing in this book.)
I pretty much wasted several hours a day trying to force myself to get work done, and barely making any progress, when I could have spent it on doing something that fills my creative well: reading, crafting, watching my favourite TV shows/movies, listening to Nine Inch Nails etc., maybe even cleaning my desk.
That’s the lesson I’ve learned this past week. Time off is there not just for a rest but also to refill the creative well. If I keep emptying the well without replenishing it, I’m going to burn out. This leads me to:
This Week’s Goals
As I’m still dealing with the after-effects of the allergic reaction, and I’m still on holiday time until Friday, I’m going to take it easy. I’ve no work plans. If the characters grab me by the hand and shove me into my desk chair and force me to write, I’ll do it. But if not, my goal is to:
- Replenish my creative well.
How do you replenish your creative well? Do you struggle to allow yourself time off? Leave your hints, tips, and thoughts in the comments.
Well, that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, have a great week and stay safe.