In terms of writing—specifically in terms of producing new content—June was a light month. I wrote roughly 10k words, only about 2k of which was new fiction. To put that in context, I wrote nearly twice that on a new story today alone. I didn’t produce much new fiction this past month, but I did do a lot of editing. And a lot of planning. And a good amount of blogging. And that counts as writing, surely. But planning a book and drafting the prose itself are two entirely different things. Before, the planning was accompanied by a distinct terror that no matter how well planned it was this was going to be the book I would never be able to execute. The prose was going to elude me.
I only wrote about 2k of new fiction last month, and I’m ok with that. And, I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for being ok with that.
I’ve written before about my process, how regimented and diligent I am. I’ve written about why I’m regimented and diligent—historically, a cease in writing has been followed by a vicious plague of self-doubt. There’s been a sense in me that in terms of producing fiction I am like a shark: to stop an inexorable move forward, to stall in the slightest, spells death. There’s been an irrational fear that to halt will dry up the well. It’s like when you’re running, and you haven’t paced yourself, and you know that if you stop you’re done for. If you stop and your burning lungs and aching legs get the chance to root you that your body will refuse to run again. That fragile kinetic well of energy has dried up. Truly, you were running on fumes long before, but the admittance of that fact spells your doom. That is how writing has always felt to me.
But I only wrote 2k words last month, and here I am refreshed and back in the swing of it. I’ve had to take breaks from writing before, almost always due to circumstance: there was a dissertation to finish, or a newborn baby to nurse, or depression to survive. And there was circumstance here, too: an uptick in stress and demand at work coupled with a change in my daily routine*. The resurgence of my writing this month happened seamlessly. There was no week of despondent worry. There was no girding of the loins as I sat back down to the keyboard, convinced I had run dry. It just happened. It just worked. In short, I have learned to trust myself.
I’ve never been one to suffer imposter syndrome in general. I was among the proud few in grad school to feel like I had definitely earned my place there. But a lifetime of thinking I was not creative led me to feel like writing fiction was a fluke rather than a stable talent I was nurturing. Maybe I’ve simply been hacking away at it long enough to know it’s not going anywhere. Maybe it’s simply me getting older and more comfortable in my own skin and my own life. I’m not sure. All I know is I don’t worry that I’m going to lose it. That’s progress.
*As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to write on my commute into work since I take the bus. But recently, in part to manage the fatigue and stress of my day job lately, I’ve been bike commuting in the mornings which, while very pleasant and generally restorative, has meant that I my usual writing routine was disrupted fairly substantially.