September’s blog was all windows, October’s wonder, so it follows that this month’s will be about the work, the ongoing writer’s work. The fulfilling and frustrating act of creating art. Though, as I seek more equanimity in all aspects of my life, my mindset regarding this work has been evolving. Less high-highs and low-lows, more acceptance of process, as in the work won’t always go smoothly and that’s okay.
Where I am in the drafting process of my Armenian family book: The manuscript is currently about 50,000 words, 177 pages. My goal is around 80,000 words. Much of the manuscript isn’t fleshed out or fully developed. I have several other Word docs, totaling around 20,000 words, with material waiting to be incorporated into the manuscript. I’m trying to establish, again and again as the story evolves, a solid spine around which to build the body of the book. I have to know what kind of story I’m constructing in order to know what belongs in this book, and as that story keeps shifting, so does what remains, what must be added, and what is deleted. I’ve probably written 80,000 words a few times over in my search for this story, which is, at least for me, a necessary part of the process in creating this book.
How would you describe where you are with your current creative project?
Where I write: I prefer to write in the comfort and quiet of my home. When I’m writing on my laptop, which is most of the time, I use one of three writing stations all within my upstairs home office. One: sit-down desk, propped up computer with external keyboard approximating some state of ergonomic correctness. The desk has the best light and most space for consulting books, notes, and marked-up manuscript pages. When my back begins to ache, I move to station two: standing desk consisting of game boxes on a piece of furniture to approximate body-friendly position with elevated laptop and external keyboard, a stack of to-read books for the mouse. When my legs get tired, then it’s time for station three: recliner with lap desk to support my computer. This last has the best view with a cedar tree six feet away, often frequented by birds, like brown creepers and downy woodpeckers, searching out insects, and the Canadian Coast Mountains on the horizon.
Where do you prefer to do your creative work?
Things I try when I feel stuck or need to change the creative energy: I get off the computer. Staring at a screen can be draining, typing on a keyboard tiring. I’ll print out a section of the manuscript and revise by hand. My body can sit or recline in ways it can’t when I’m on the computer. The work itself reads differently on the printed page, and where before I felt stalled, often I’ll find a new path forward.
Move my body, beyond changing writing positions. I’ll do a few yoga stretches—cobra, downward dog, child’s pose. I’ll go up and down the stairs a few times. Take deep breaths. Yawn. Sigh. All ways to oxygenate my brain cells and shift my energy. I might step outside, if only for a few minutes, to breath in the crisp autumn air.
I’ll read—for information, for inspiration, for relaxation. Often something I read will spur ideas and send me back to my manuscript.
Work on something else. Like this blog, or an essay about my new obsession with a mourning cloak butterfly which I keep not writing, or notes for the novel I’m going to write after I finish the book about my Armenian family.
Please share your suggestions for getting unstuck and energized.