12 November 2014

Going with the flow

In a conversation last week, a friend told me about how she once spent several months in a foreign country not writing her dissertation. No longer even sure she wanted to finish her degree, she experienced a kind of mental paralysis where she spent hours staring off into space.

"I'll bet that at least to some extent you were so focused on what you thought you should be doing that you weren't open to what you could be doing."

She agreed.

I lost the motivation to work on my WIP1 back in August. For a while I wrote nothing except journal entries and the occasional blog entry. When I got back to Portland in September, I'd expected myself to jump back into the WIP, editing work and marketing ASAP and instead found that I couldn't concentrate on anything. I experienced a kind of mental paralysis and found myself staring off into space for hours.

It seems to me there's a lot to be said for being able to go with the flow. For recognizing and accepting that you're not inspired by what you thought you should be doing and instead being open to other possibilities that you may not have noticed or considered otherwise. So I decided to give myself permission to work on other things. Whatever I wanted, so long as I spent a little bit of time working on the WIP too. I've had mixed results. Some days the mere idea of sitting down to write exhausts me. On the other hand, if not for opening myself up to other things, I wouldn't have joined Float On's Writers' Program.

I've taken to going to a coffee shop in the mornings in an effort to put myself in an environment conducive to concentrating on writing: away from the slight but constant pull of the dogs' energy, away from my bed, away from the household chores. I try to pretend that the coffee shop doesn't have Internet. Sometimes that all works, and sometimes I'm distracted by the music, by other people's conversations, by the people coming in and out, by my writer friends who also go there to work, by suddenly remembering an urgent email I haven't answered or an event I wanted to create.

And in general I'm distracted by the city. There's a lot to see and do here, especially since I've lived here off and on since 1998 and know a lot of people. I'm only here for three months, and then I'm going to a different town where I know almost no one and there isn't a lot of culture that interests me, so I feel like I'm trying to cram a year's worth of connecting with people and live music into three months. All this socializing takes a toll, though.

Which all brings me to the question: Where is the line between going with the flow and slacking off?

ROW80 Update
"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

Show up to writing 2-3 hours/day. Blerg. My progress so far this week has been a finished second piece for Float On, a little bit of progress on a short story, a little bit of progress on WIP1, a little bit of progress on a couple different travel blog posts. My total word count for DigiWriMo so far, including this blog post, is 5,080 words.

Be an active ROW80 sponsor. On track. 

Read for fun. On track. I read Leviathan Wakes, a space opera by James S. A. Corey.

Continue posting twice a week on this blog. Posted once. Have my next guest lined up and will hopefully be posting her thoughts on how to define success as a writer later this week. 

How do you draw the line between slacking off vs. going with the flow? 

This is a blog hop! Click here to read other ROW80 participants' mid-week check-ins.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I experienced that with my major...and I dropped out. I've experienced that with writing projects too, though. I never want to leave a writing project unfinished, but some times I convince myself it'd be a waste not to write for something else while I have inspiration for it. I try to just make sure I try to find the excitement in the old project. And I think the line is when you're not being productive at all. If you're still getting stuff done then you need to give yourself a break and not chastise yourself on what you think you should be getting done. We always have harsher standards for ourselves than the rest of the world does.