Writing is Looking Back and Moving Forward

Goodbye summer.

This week, I return to my day job after a summer-long hiatus. I don’t like change, so even a slight shake-up of routine sent me straight to my journal the other day.

As I scribbled down all my anxieties, I realized that the entry I wrote was all too similar to the one I wrote in May – when my day job ended and my summer promised two kids at home – all day – and absolutely no routine. The list from May to August differed in a few details, but the big question remained the same: When will I find time to write?

One thing’s for sure, I’m a consistent worrier.

It’s the endless plight of any writer with a day job or a mother writer with kids. What I’ve found though – in looking back on the last few months – is that as much as I worry about not having time to write, I still end up with a stack of essays and stories in the end. Too bad those essays or stories have little to do with the “big one.” I’ve tucked my novel draft and notes under my arm and carried them from room to room with me all summer. They even traveled with me on vacations. But, I’ve pushed through only a few more pages of that draft.

Still, I’ve been writing, even when time was tight. And, that’s better than not writing at all.

In considering my slow-moving novel, I thought of Jan O’Hara’s recent post on Writer Unboxed where she mentioned wise words from Donald Maass, heard at the RWA Nationals:

If possible, resist the push to rapid production. A good story well told means an audience willing to wait. Reward their loyalty with quality.

Maass’s words do little to ease my worries that I will oversleep tomorrow and show up late (or worse – unshowered) for first day back at work. But, his advice reminds me that writing is simply moving forward — inch by inch, page by page.

Looking back from May to August, I see small steps in progress and moments of synchronicity, when little burning bushes signaled that I can be (and am) a writer. In spite of tight schedules, posts were written, stories were submitted, and connections with other writers were made.

I can view my day job as aΒ  burden that takes me away from writing (though that paycheck and health insurance lightens the load). Or, I can see it as an opportunity: new routines force me to schedule more succinct writing times.

I did it once; I can do it again.

What inspiration have you found in looking back on your writing?


15 responses to “Writing is Looking Back and Moving Forward

  1. You have reminded me of the reason my novel took so long to write. I worked a full time job for many long years. There was little time for writing, but I kept going little by little. I like the quote you cited above. Thank you for sharing.

    • You’re welcome, Carol. If you’re on to your next novel, does it seem to take less time than the first? I wonder sometimes if the process will move a little faster once I’m more confident in the art of novel writing.

  2. Keep writing and share to us …
    I like reading your article my friends …

  3. Excellent post, Christi!

  4. I haven’t started the next novel yet. I’m in process of getting this one off to an agent or publisher. Like you, I think the next one will be easier. I floundered like a beached whale on my first and learned much from it.

  5. I try to focus on anything I do, instead of what I didn’t do. And if I did nothing that day, I tell myself I needed the break. If I tell myself the negatives: I blogged when I should have written, or opened the novel but didn’t edit, I’d drown in the negatives.

    I do need to punish myself, though, if I find I’m making more excuses than I am time.

    • Tricia,
      I was just thinking yesterday the same: that a day away from writing is maybe the break I needed. It seems that when I have one productive day, the next one is just the opposite. I guess I’m “recharging” my writing brain on those days πŸ™‚

  6. Christi, I could have written this post (well, not as eloquently, but at least the gist of it πŸ™‚ ). Thank you so much for the reminder that “writing is simply moving forward.” That belongs on a pillow.

    You did it once; you will do it again, and again, and again…


  7. Thank you for the reminder not to shove words on the screen just to get the word count in.

    Christi Corbett

    PS. LOVE how you spell your name πŸ™‚

  8. Breaks from writing are not only ok, they’re good for me. I’m taking one right now. But, when I look back on my writing, I do tend to notice that if I’d been a bit more disciplined, more focused, how much further along I’d be.

    I think taking a break from time to time allows me to return with more discipline. A change in season, change in schedule helps with that, so I’m sure you’ll start the fall with even more commitment, Christi!

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