Ever since I got back from New York, I've been writing almost every day. Although I know that a lot of people prefer to work on one story at a time (and I can totally understand why since they can get it done faster), my workaholic nature has caused me to "multi-task" when it comes to my writing. That is, I'm currently working on three different stories: a novel that I drafted years ago but never revised, a creative nonfiction piece about teaching that I plan to submit to literary magazines that publish creative nonfiction, and a book-length creative nonfiction story: Obsessions of a Workaholic. I thought about just focusing on one of the stories, but I've been so excited about getting the words down on paper that I'm afraid I'll lose or forget them somehow if I put it off.
I've found that it's easier to write regularly when I incorporate it into my regular routine, like I did with exercise. Most days, I'd rather listen to Kylie Jenner talk about her lip fillers for an hour than spend that same hour working out, but because I'm now so used to working out at least 4-5 times a week, I feel worse if I don't go. And it's paid off, too, because I lost twenty pounds this summer. Although I still have more weight that I want to lose, the fact that I exceeded my weight-loss goal this summer has me dancing like this:
By a similar token, by making a point of working on my writing at least 4-5 days a week, even just for half an hour a day, it's gotten much easier to motivate myself to sit at my desk or go to a coffee shop and write, instead of lie on my bed and watch YouTube videos on my phone.
It's easier for me to write out my first drafts in longhand in notebooks at coffee shops (the baristas like me because I always tip them, and I do that so that they won't mind if I occupy one of their tables for an hour or two) or in my office at school.
Then when I write the second draft, I type it out onto my laptop at home and start making changes at that point. But if I try to write out the first draft on my laptop, my mind wanders and I start Googling random things, like "what does it mean when Millennials say 'That's so lit'? Is that a drug reference?" Or I start watching YouTube music videos of bands from the '90s, like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and then of course I start Googling "whatever happened to the OTHER members of Nirvana?" which leads to too much wasted time on Wikipedia.
I've also joined writing groups: one for my creative writing, which is a Meetup group that meets at a coffee shop near my apartment every week, and one for my scholarly writing (in academia, the prevailing attitude towards scholarly writing is "publish or perish"), which has monthly meetings on campus at the college where I teach.
Since Creative Nonfiction is one of the literary magazines I plan to submit to (actually, I already submitted a story about my life in Small Town to them earlier this summer, which probably won't get published, but it felt good just to put my writing out there), I paid $22 for a package that included an issue of their magazine, several issues of their "mini-magazine", True Story, and an anthology of stories that have been published in their magazines. They say that you should read the magazines that you want to write for, so that you get a better sense of what they're looking for. The package also included cool writer's swag, like a tote bag, a pen, and a small notebook.
Thus, I've managed to be very productive in the last weeks of summer, and after all the emotional turmoil I went through earlier this summer, it feels good to have a renewed sense of energy and focus on my work again. I've especially enjoyed working on my memoir, Obsessions of a Workaholic. All these years that I spent blogging about my life as a workaholic, I didn't realize that I was in a sense writing the first draft of this book. When I originally started blogging, I was just doing it for fun and so I could take a break from the scholarly writing that I'd been immersed in during grad school. But I've realized that there is a lot of stuff from this blog that I could use for the book, and I've also been fleshing it out and reorganizing it into a more linear narrative. It will take months to finish that book, but once I finally do, I will go back to work on another memoir: one about my experiences as a member of seven different online dating sites over the course of a decade. Even though it will be tough to make time for writing during the school year, I try to remember what I heard a successful writer say once: that even if you only write one page a day, in a year's time you'll have more than enough pages for a book.
What about you? How's your writing going, and what are you working on? What's your writing process like?
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