Do I Even READ My Own Writing??
Behind the Book: How do I even do this?
Hey y’all. I’ve now entered the stage of book “due-ness” that has me hunkered down in my office, a ball of barely-functioning stress. Which is why I haven’t finished writing about the honeymoon yet. It’s book time - what even is a honeymoon? That was like a billion years ago right? There is only book and the sound of my own screams now.
To say that I’ve been struggling is an understatement. I’ve said before that writing a book is like childbirth. It sucks. You feel like you might die. You swear you’ll never do it again. And then, in order to recover from the trauma, you brain is like, “well, let’s just dump these awful memories,” and after some time you have this beautiful child and you’re finally sleeping through the night again and you’re like, “maybe we should do that again. It couldn’t have been that bad, right?”
But reader, it is that bad. And as you’re laying in the hospital bed, feet in stirrups, screaming at the top of your lungs, you suddenly remember how fervently you swore that you’d never ever do this again.
Writing a book is a lot like that.
I set out writing this book knowing that the past few years had been tough, and that therefore I may need more support around writing this book than I had in the past. I had written books before. Actual books that you can go to the store right now and buy and hold in your hands. They are full of words! So many words! They make sense even! I did that. I know how to write a book, right?
But after months of research and interviews, as I settled into the actual writing part of writing, I hit a wall so hard I’m still seeing stars.
I just couldn’t make it work. I wrote just recently, in this very newsletter that we shouldn’t expect to write the same way that we did before the pandemic started, because so much of our routines and needs has changed. I wrote that - as very good advice - to someone who was struggling with restarting writing after pandemic-forced hiatus.
But as I tried different methods for organizing my time and data, different ways to get my but into my chair to put down words into the formula that has worked so well for me in the past, I just wasn’t finding anything close to flow.
It was talking with my therapist about all the different things I had tried that it struck me that perhaps I should pay better attention to my own advice. Yes my work flow and attention span is likely different in these pandemic years. Yes, it may take different motivations to get my butt in this desk chair. But what if my form is different? What if my brain has changed and my actual writing style has changed? What if this book wants to be something new?
I started thinking through my writing evolution these past two and a half years or so. My writing has changed. I’ve largely stopped writing short pieces for publication on websites and in magazines that required me to be punchy and concise. My writing has stretched and breathes more. I used to pride myself on how “to the point” my writing was and how few words were wasted in getting that point across. Once I got through the hard part of mulling over what I wanted to write, the actual writing part was fast. I could pop out a 1200 word essay in under an hour and with a quick spell-check it would be publication-ready. Now, even these newsletters that I can’t be arsed to spell-check can take hours as I find new ways to write on and on and on about the tiniest aspect of the most random idea in my head.
So I’ve been experimenting with form. I’ve let go of thinking that the easiest path to a completed manuscript is the form I’ve always known, because I’m not the same writer I’ve always known. And so far, I’ve definitely found something like flow.
It’s basically the advice I gave y’all earlier, only you know, actually applied to myself.
I should really listen to myself more.
Ok, I’m going to get back to it but I thought I’d just quickly check in and share this with y’all in case some of you found it helpful. As much as I really wish it would, this book won’t write itself.
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