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I had the perfect title, but forgot it

Dear World,

I haven’t written a word of fiction since the beginning of September. Lots of thinking about fiction, planning of fiction, research and note-taking, but the butt has not been in the chair. In my ideal world, I would be writing every day. But I don’t live in my ideal world, unfortunately, and I must recognize that the demands of the various things I do will ebb and flow. This has been a very busy time for my main job – you know, the one that pays the mortgage – and I’ve been reorganizing some of the weaving stuff. That leaves precious little time, and more importantly braincycles, for fiction.

But at the same time, I have to recognize that I will never have any more time than I do now, and that if I’m not writing now, then I’ll never be writing. If I want to do it, I will find the time. Just not every day, or even every week. Sometimes day-job work will eat my brain, sometimes I’ll be able to take vacation time to devote to other things

It will all work out, as long as I’m mindful of how I spend my time, and work to maintain the balance between my various obligations. Mindfulness is very important to me right now. What am I doing at this moment? Is it what I should be doing? If so, then do that thing, without worrying about any of the other myriad things begging for my attention. If it isn’t, then stop doing it. I can only do one major thing at a time, and so it must be the right one.

I think I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo this year. If you’ve missed it, it’s the communal attempt to write an entire novel in the month of November. It’s fun, but I think for me it’s counterproductive. NaNoing puts the focus entirely on wordcount and pushing for more and more, where I need to work on improving the balancing act that allows me to meet all my goals and obligations. The NaNo-push forces me to ignore other obligations, so when December 1 rolls around, I quit writing to tend to them. Not good. I will write more fiction in November, but will not push for the 50k wordcount.

Viable Paradise was last week. I didn’t get to go this year, though I plan to apply again, but I thought it would be a good time to do something else writerly. Elizabeth Bear had mentioned the Online Writing Workshop, a SF/F/H critique group, and it sounded potentially very useful. A writing group of some sort would help me to not push fiction all the way to the bottom of the pile – external motivation can be very helpful – and help me refine some of the areas I’m having trouble with.

OWW has a free month trial period, and after that is a small annual fee. The setup is simple: after your first submission, you need to provide substantive critiques of others’ works to earn enough points to submit more of your own work. Like any such group, there’s a wide range of experience and aptitude, both for writing and for critiquing. I was thrilled to discover that my technical editing skills can work for fiction as well, with only a slight shift in perspective. At least, I think so – I haven’t discussed them with the recipients of those critiques. I’ve only submitted one piece for review so far, but have gotten some useful feedback. I don’t have a regular writing group, so this could be very helpful.

2 Comments

  1. Sally says:

    I really want to do nano again this year, but with all the Shiraz stuff, I’ not sure I’ll have the energy. with all that you do, I don’t know how you manage to do Nano as well!
    That writing group looks good. I rather like the collaborative approach.

  2. Laura says:

    OWW sounds like a good option. It’s encouraging to be even virtually around people who do what you do.

    I’m trying to get better at the time management (temporal allocation?), and I think I’ve recently made a minute amount of headway. This week I’ve finally gotten my spindle out again; I’ve decided to try doing some handspinning as the switchover from “at work” to “at home.” Seems to be helping (it’s been so hectic at work this week that it’s hard to tell) and in any case I end up with new yards of yarn, so I’ve had at least SOME productive time. Or at least some time that feels productive to me for my own reasons.

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