Thank you to those who responded to my question about what helps you stay on track with long writing projects the other day! The collective wisdom out there always humbles me. Writing can be so isolating, but I think it helps hugely when we share our difficulties and, importantly, our strategies for keeping it going. So in that spirit, here’s what some of you said:
Sez Dawn, of This Woman’s Work:
“Sanity comes from accepting that my life doesnâ€™t have a neat, predictable schedule and not fighting that too hard. Writing around kids and clients (and currently without childcare) means missed opportunities and making myself crazy about that just makes me crazy â€” it doesnâ€™t help. So acceptance. (sigh) Which is hard.”
“Setting word counts and periodic deadlines for myself is helpful but sometimes taking a day or two away from the project lets me recharge or think or mentally reboot myself when I am wondering who the hell will I ever sell this to. I recall a writer who recommended physical activity as a way to literally run or walk yourself past the low spots or over the humps. I find I do my best writing while thinking during a workout. All I need is about 4 miles under my feet to get back on track.”
Sez Alison Piepmeier, of Baxter Sez:
“A little more than three years ago, I was at the beginning of writing my book on zines by girls and women….I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say, and I got to the point of realizing that my writing days were done. Unbeknownst to me, I had already written the last intelligent thing I was ever going to write. The semester was about to start, I hadn’t finished a chapter, and I was sliding into a pit of despair.
Fortunately, I encountered Conseula at a campus meeting on a day that I was trying not to cry, and she, too, was feeling pretty despairing about her own writing project. So we decided to start a writing group. Claire, Conseula, and I have been a writing group ever since. It’s fantastic. The group buoys us emotionally, keeping us from staying long in those places where we feel like we have nothing to say, and it helps us to be productive: all three of us have finished book manuscripts in the time we’ve been together.”
Alison posts guidelines for starting such a group right here. Really great guidelines. I second them all!
Got more suggestions, wisdom to share? Keep it coming, GWPenners! I learn from you.