Whenever you’re starting in on a new creative project, it’s a good idea to have a plan going in. And it’s a better idea to have a realistic plan.
The better part of a year ago I was frustrated with my writing. I wasn’t doing enough of it and what little I was doing wasn’t turning out the way that I hoped that it would. I needed to practice. I needed to write more. So when I stumbled across 750 Words and its video-game-like point system, I was thrilled/trapped. My obsession with digital task-and-information management (I rate all the songs in my iTunes, for instance) meant that I fell headlong into the RPG-like grinding-for-EXP experience that 750 Words offered. (A quick explanation for those who didn’t follow the 750W link: the site ‘rewards’ you for writing a minimum of 750 words – roughly 3 pages – every day, although the rewards are basically a check mark for the date and a couple of little graphic icons – oh, and you have to pay for this service which provides further motivation/guilt.)
The good news was that, suddenly, I was writing much, much more than I had been before. And, actually, to say that there was bad news does a disservice to 750W. The site itself is purely good – I highly recommend 750W to anyone who writes and thinks that a little structure would do them good. The problem – the bad news – is that my brain is an obsessive, guilt-inducing little thing. I became obsessed with those little daily check marks. I didn’t let myself miss a day. I scrambled to get my word count in before midnight, no matter how busy my day was, the task hanging over me like some kind of punitive sentence. On a few occasions I actually pounded out all 750 words on my phone just to make sure that I kept my consecutive days streak alive. Keep in mind that 750W is private. No one but me would know how I was doing. It’s entirely possible that no one else besides my wife (then fiance) even knew that I used the site. I was taking a good thing and turning it into anxiety.
However, before my usage spiraled out of control and I needed to take a step back for my own sanity, back when I had just started using 750W and was feeling good about all the writing that I was doing, I thought that – what with all my boundless new productivity – I should start a website or a blog. And so I made this page. Which promptly sat unused for the better part of a year.
You see, when I was scrambling to get 3 pages down a day (which really isn’t enough to warrant scrambling in the first place, even with a job and a dog and a house and whatever else you’ve got going on), I just could never find the time to edit. Creating is the easy part of writing. As long as you’ve got some semblance of an idea, just start putting it down and see where it takes you. But unless you’re one of the few geniuses capable of spewing out a finished work on your first draft – and these people do exist – then you need to edit. And I was focusing so hard on my creation/word-count that I wasn’t editing. Which meant that I wasn’t finishing anything, which meant that nothing was going up on this site.
And the months passed.
Recently, after our wedding, I’ve been trying to strike a better (and healthier) balance between what I consider to be the three aspects of a writing life: reading, writing, and editing. So far, I’ve been doing just fine. I’m not overwhelming myself with pressure (like I usually do) to hit any certain word counts or publishing rates. I’m just trying to work on something every day, and when that doesn’t happen I’m trying to remember that that’s okay (it’s okay, Brennan, it’s okay).
So now I’m back to this site. When I first created it, I unrealistically hoped that I’d be putting up some new piece of short fiction every week. That’s not going to happen. But I’d like to use this space. I think it’d be good for me and that maybe, and only maybe, there might be a handful of people who’d enjoy reading my nonsensical ramblings about who-knows-what. I guess we’ll see on that second part.
Though I’ve tried this before, things have changed. My plan is better now, less strict. I start new creative projects all the time and never finish them. I’m hoping this will turn out differently. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, I guess, you and I.