Monday, December 11, 2023

Peaks, Valleys, Blooms, and In Between

Author Hannah Carmona once talked about how cherry blossom trees reminded her that incredible things sometimes require a lot of prep. Cherry blossom trees may bloom earlier than they used to with climate change, but they bloom once and then they move on to other phases. Because not every season is meant to be bloom season. 
Similarly I saw someone on social media talking about how you cannot build your productivity plan around your best day. 
It's funny, because I think in capitalism we've all seen this. How hiring freezes and other measures that show up in times of economic uncertainty become our normal staffing, and three years later everybody is tired and burnt out and you suddenly remember, oh yeah, there used to be more of us to do this. That's why we're tired.
And yet, I will call myself lazy for not writing every day, or finishing a draft and wishing to read for a few weeks. 
And look, I know for some people a break from writing longer than an hour is too much for them. 
And to be clear, there is still writing work happening. My first drafts are often written in a giant long string with a quick indent for new scenes, and so the first thing I do with a draft is break it into scenes and figure out what I have and take a big picture look at the pacing. And a lot of that is hard to quantify. The draft looks less like a giant brain dump and more like a draft. 
But pondering pacing and other things, well, that kind of looks like me playing games on my phone. 
Everyone has different processes, and many many people wish their process was some variation of better, faster, cooler, or let's face it, easier.
But if the social pressure of NaNo helped you be productive and now you are less productive, that isn't you backsliding. If you finished your draft (at least for now) you have earned that rest. Your brain often needs time to process, so you can look the draft with fresh eyes.
If you did not finish your draft, you have a few options here. You may need to rest. I know all these people have been telling you you can build a habit of writing just by writing, but your process may need more than that. If it benefits from social pressure, finding drafting or writing groups that continue on might help you.
It may also be that the NaNo pace is not sustainable for you for more than 30 days. Even marathoners don't run a whole marathon every day. So maybe work on finding a good pace for now. 
And you may also just need a rest. December may not be a good month for you. But the good news if you did write for 30 days straight, you can do it again. But maybe not now. 
Kind if like that old video with Stephen Covey talking about planning for family and vacations first. Make space for your writing, certainly. But also make space for you to not write, so that when you go back to it, you've had time to gather up the energy and excitement to go at it again.