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Back to Basics

October 21, 2005

Early in the year, I made a transition.  After several months of scratching out lines, tearing out pages, and swearing at inanimate objects, I put aside my pen and notebook and began hammering out my novel electronically.

And I have made progress.  But it has been a slow, halting, unfulfilling progress.  A paragraph here, a page there.  It has been like squeezing blood from a stone.

Lately, that stone seems to have run dry.  In the past week I’ve written a sentence.  A single damn sentence.  I just stare at the screen, frustrated, numb.  What happened?  I used to be able to churn out three or four written pages a night.  Through the first eleven chapters, I averaged better than two typed pages a day…and I wasn’t even writing every day.  These days…I’m happy with two pages a week.

What happened?  I don’t know…but the laptop is just not cutting it anymore.  The internet it too close…the temptation to procrastinate, especially on a bad night, is too great.  And, I have no faith that I will ever match my earlier written production electronically.

So I have made a command decision to go back to the basics.  No more laptop.  No more internet.  No more clacking at the keys.  No more distractions. 

I am going back to the basics.  I am going back to my pen and my notebook.

05-10-20 Fountain Pen Sepia

There is a danger that I will once again find myself in that vicious cycle of scratching out words and tearing out pages…but how would that be different from what I’m already doing on the laptop?

Besides, this decision feels right.  It feels like what I should be doing. 

So, we shall see.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2005 11:51 am

    Do whatever works. I hope you hit your stride again. Do you have a goal you’re aiming towards for finishing?

  2. October 21, 2005 1:14 pm

    Yes. Finishing. That’s my goal.

    To put things in perspective…I started this insane quest two years ago, in October 2003. By August 2004 I’d written eleven chapters. And from August 2004 to today…two chapters.

  3. October 21, 2005 2:24 pm

    Maybe the lack in productivity is not due to the computer/paper dilema, but more due to the fact that you are not excited about it as you once were. You are still very dedicated to completeing the book, but after 2 years, maybe it has become more like work that a fun project. In the begining I’m sure that it was fun and exciting, you had all of these great ideas and were venturing into uncharted territory. Take a little time to think back on what really made you want to do this in the first place. What got you excited about this, in the first place, what drove your passion.

  4. October 21, 2005 4:13 pm

    Oh, I’m certain that my lack of productivity extends beyond what tool I happen to be writing with.

    But…I still have a passion for the project. I still enjoy it. The same things that drove me to start the novel still drive me today. The desire to write a novel through to completion, to prove to myself that I can do it. The pleasure of writing. The hope that maybe, just maybe, I can turn it into more than a one-off pursuit.

    I can point to plenty of reasons (or are they excuses?) for my lack of productivity. It has been a tumultuous year. We’ve built a house, sold a house, and been treated to the joys of moving. We’ve had to deal with Meg’s death. Jamie’s job hunt. There was the three week trip to Europe…and Hurricane Katrina…and Rita.

    Then there’s the information management, which becomes more and more of a task the nearer I get to completion. And the length issue. The book is already too long…and it’s a struggle telling myself to forget about the length and just write.

    Maybe I’m just thinking about it too much.

    But, whatever the factors, the fact of the matter is that I have lost my zone, my focus, or whatever else you want to call it. I am in a slump.

    And, just as a baseball player switches bats, tries a new brand of socks, or starts wearing garter belts to break out of a slump, I’m trying to break out of mine by changing my writing tools.

  5. October 21, 2005 5:53 pm

    It’s good to hear that you have not lost your passion for the project. You will find your zone, it will come back to you.

  6. Tim permalink
    October 26, 2005 1:06 am

    I think it’s all because you haven’t done the chapter on the Nubian butt smugglers. That’d get you rolling downhill again.

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