21 July 2013

Now there's a question...

By Gayle Francis Moffet

How do you form a writing habit? That's the question we're trying to answer here on PPM this month. We're also trying to figure out how you keep a writing habit going and what tips or tricks might work best to help someone form a writing habit.

Folks, I gotta tell you the truth: I don't freaking know. I have spent the last three weeks trying to keep a list of my writing habits, and it goes something like this:

  1. Get idea.
  2. Write three paragraphs.
  3. Completely forget about idea for a week while I crochet something.
  4. Eat some cheese.
  5. Two weeks later, write twenty pages of that thing.
  6. Get distracted by comic books and movies.
  7. Go get a drink with friends.
  8. Eat some more cheese.
  9. A month later, write ten pages.
  10. Forget idea again.
  11. Get new idea.
  12. Write story while waiting for clothes to come out of the washer.
  13. Edit story while clothes are in the dryer.
  14. Get story published.
  15. Wonder how the hell that happened.
  16. Discover uneaten cheese in the back of the fridge. 
And it's lather, rinse, repeat unto infinity.

I've tried to take on all those habits that you get told time and again will make you a more reliable writer. I have tried to write every day, but there are days I open every document in my folder, and nothing feels worth working on. Not because it's bad, but because I'm just not there mentally for it.

I've tried to write in small bits of time I can find, and that one's proved to be pretty useful. I still don't write every day, but I'm in the habit now of writing during my short breaks at work, so I'm seeing output.

But here's the thing: Even with an uneven schedule, I don't feel like I'm missing the chance to do something more with my writing. I'm doing exactly what I want with my writing, and while I occasionally get frustrated at my lack of output, what I do put out is work I'm proud of and pleased to have my name on. And it's that pleasure that pushes me to write more. I like what I write, and liking it makes me want to write more of it, but sometimes that more comes in a single push over a week, and sometimes it comes in a series of short bursts over months. Every attempt to regulate it has led me to hate the whole process until I just let my brain do what it does on the schedule it prefers.

I'm sure the rest of the crew is going to turn out some great advice this month, but all I can say is, if you're not feeling it, don't feel bad about doing something else. That cheese isn't going to eat itself, and this dress sure as hell didn't come out of the ether:

Though I hope it gives someone
the vapors.

Enjoy yourself, find your own rhythm, and you're likely to be way more productive than you ever thought possible. 

Gayle Francis Moffet writes, but she doesn't do it on a schedule that looks like it's built from good habits. She keeps a writing tumblr at whatthehellamiwriting.tumblr.com, and that's about the shape of it this month.

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