Sunday, December 5, 2010

Exhaustion, Christmas and Writerly Stuff

Oh, what a week my blog-friends. I worked from 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday without taking a lunch break or anything... the good news is I made my deadline, though I was a total zombie. I actually left work at 4:50 on Friday, and it was like "Oh, daylight, and I'm leaving. Totally bizarre." I had a massive earache going on at the beginning of the week, too, so I survived on Tylenol and episodes of Weeds, which is my new favorite TV show. Not a lick of writing took place, which was a bummer.

So, this weekend I've been trying to recover. Yesterday was busy because I was running errands in town and then at the local winter festival with my son for a few hours. Today I did some major house cleaning because it had gotten completely OC, and then early this evening we dragged out all the Christmas stuff. Santa and his elves have officially laid siege on my house. It is now full of holiday goodness. However, while decorating I noticed the curious/evil gleam in Literary Kitty's eyes as she crouched by the Christmas village, quietly observing this strange ritual of the humans. Think: Jurassic Park when the velociraptors narrow their eyes as they watch their prey. Her eyes were gleaming with devious feline plans involving the torture and assassination of various Christmas ornaments and carefully wrapped gifts.

Now, I am going somewhere writerly with this, I promise. Earlier I was spritzing and vacuuming and washing dishes. Heck, I even contemplated mopping pretty seriously for about five minutes, but then decided to eat pie and write instead (it's the thought that counts, right?). I started thinking, getting ready to clean the house is like getting ready to start a writing project. Sometimes it seems too huge of a task, too overwhelming. There are a million things swirling about in my brain. So, for either task, I break it down into steps. When writing, I actually write down these steps, like a to-do list. For instance, when I was starting my most recent major edit, I did a little brainstorming about what I was going to change, and then ideas started popping and I felt overloaded. So I typed up a quick list of the new scenes I was going to write, and where I was going to work them in and how I was going to connect with or add to existing scenes.

Once I have my list, then I have to pick a place to start. For me, this isn't always a chronological progression through the story. Sometimes I'll go ahead and write those scenes that are clawing at the inside of my brain. Later I'll go back and write the connecting pieces. The important part for me is to make a decision, and then take action. I can’t let myself get overwhelmed by the whole ordeal, I just pick a room in the house/scene of the novel and go for it!

So, how do you guys go about starting projects? What keeps you from getting overwhelmed?


  1. A good starting place is a must for anything, and writing is most certainly not an exception. Even after it's written you still have to have a list of to-do's so you don't get overwhelmed. Or you will just go bananas! Great post. Excellent points. And congrats on hitting your deadline!!

  2. Sorry you had the week from hell. Way to go on hitting those deadlines, though.

    I never thought of it that way before, but you're so right that writing's like cleaning. If I sit down and think about all the things I have to do to clean the house before I actually do it, I tire myself out too much to start. That's why I don't think about it. I just dive in and hope that by the time I'm done, I've gotten everything. Just like writing. Sure, sometimes I miss a dust bunny or forget to wipe off that bit of counter we almost never use, but in the end, the main part is done. I can always catch the rest during edits. ;o)

  3. I keep from overwhelming myself by being methodical. I have a process and I stick to that process no matter what because it's the only thing that keeps me from pulling my hair out.

    I agree that it's much like cleaning a house. I even clean my desk in preparation of starting a writing project because it's like clearing out the clutter in my mind and mentally preparing myself for the methodical process.


  4. A to do list for edist is a great idea. I probably should do that for mine. I have to be a bit organized like that in order to clean my house to- I make a plan and stretch it out over a couple days so I'm not so overwhelmed. I probably should do that with my writing too.

  5. Ugh, housework must be taken in small doses. And it can be overwhelming if you think about the end/outcome, just like writing. I started thinking of all the polishing and sentence structure-type things I should be doing to my WIP, feeling a little pressured and overwhelmed, and I had to stop myself. Now is NOT the time to be thinking of picky things! I just need to finish the rough draft, first.


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