Monday, July 18, 2011

What Happens When I Don't Write

by Laura Bickle

When I'm writing, I tend to be completely immersed in a project. I'm sucked entirely in, dreaming about the work and scribbling furiously. The work assumes primary importance in my life, and everything else tends to get shelved. Anything I'm reading at the time is research. The laundry piles up, and I beg off on social invitations.

When I'm not writing, I'm not. I then start to wonder about whether I really should launder the couch cushions and what color I should paint the bedroom. I contemplate picking up an extra training class for work or picking up a new book to read.

I feel guilty about not writing, sure. I feel myself fading a bit. The days slip by, one after the other, without meaningful words.

It's easy to get in the habit of not writing, to let other things get in the way. After all this time, I still tend to view writing as something for myself, and kick writing to the bottom of the priority list. A luxury.

I know it's not. I try to keep myself on daily word count goals. Because, if I don't...I get lazy. I fall into the fiction of believing that I'll do it later, that I'll have a ten thousand word weekend that will make up for all my prior lassitude. Maybe inspiration will strike, and I'll burn up the page.

But it doesn't work that way for me. The only method that works for me is butt in chair. Perspiration versus inspiration. A book is a series of small decisions for me, not a big broad moment of glory. And those little decisions, like deciding to write daily, add up over time.

So the only solution for me is to set deadlines. Some are external, imposed by editors and publishers. Others I've promised: I'll have a book to my agent by Labor Day. Measuring time and words keeps me accountable. It's not a very glamorous way to be, but it keeps me accountable.

And it keeps me from not writing.

Image: nuchylee /


  1. Heh. Thanks. I know that a lot has been said about the pantser versus plotter debate, but what about nibblers versus bingers/devourers in the word count arena?

  2. That SO needs to be a future topic! Me with my daily word count and daily calorie count... hmm.

  3. Ha! I am totally a nibbler, which sometimes turns into binging. Actually, I'm what I'd call a grazer. On an idea writing day I add words here and there in short spells, broken up by other activities. I like to eat that way, too. Somebody do a study -

  4. and I mean Ideal. With an L. I suppose all writing days are idea writing days.