Writing–Slowing Down


At the beginning of February I was all fired up to take on my short stories and get them all revised and polished up and sent out. About ten days in, the whole thing blew up in my face.

I didn’t want to look these stories anymore. I felt like even though I was spending a whole afternoon one one story, nothing was changing. The stories weren’t getting better and worse, they weren’t getting done. It was some weird limbo state in which I banged my head against the words and the words kept winning.

So I took a weekend off and didn’t look at the stories. When I came back to them on that Monday, I came back with a different approach. Instead of trying to sprint through the stories and rush to get them done, which did little in the way of progress, I slowed myself down. I only allowed myself to revise two pages of the story a day and worked on two or three stories at a time. The result? Progress.

By working on just those two pages of the story, I was able to focus my efforts. I blotted out the big picture and focused on just the details of those two pages. It worked. Oh, I still didn’t get as much done last month as I wanted to, but I did get things done, something that wouldn’t have happened if I had kept up with my frantic, flailing pace.

This is something I struggle with. I get in a hurry because I want to be done. Writing isn’t a sprint, but I sometimes treat it like one. I think I SHOULD be done by a certain time and then rush to make it happen. This sort of approach might work for NaNoWriMo or the first draft of a short story, when the brain just needs to dump the words on paper. But when it comes to revisions, that’s not something I should rush myself through. That’s when I need to take the time to focus and do it write. That’s when speed is my enemy, not my friend.

Right now I’m so desperate to get things going that trying to push myself along is really holding me back. I feel like I’m so far behind everyone else and can’t catch up, but I have to remember that this isn’t a race. This is just me. And I need to do my best.

Slowing down (and more importantly focusing) will help me do that.

Now I just have to remember that.

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