Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting Off the Duff

The end of summer also means the beginning of my writing year.

Oh, I write during the summer. I write Emails and blog posts. I write letters and grocery-shopping lists. I even revise my fiction and write critiques for writing friends. But I don’t write first drafts of new fiction stories.

I developed this pattern when my kids were little. As they had no babysitter, summer was at Camp Mama. It’s the nature of the Mama Job to be interrupted all the time with every sort of urgent task, and the focus that is required for new real writing wasn’t possible. Although I swear my kids still seem to think I’m eminently interruptible, I could probably manage to leave them alone and go off to some dungeon now. But the pattern of summers off was set, and I found it was good for me.

When the second part of August shows up, I begin to feel the twitches. Like running one’s hands over the car door, jiggling the keys, but not inserting the key or pushing the start button. Not quit yet.

And with that comes the Doubt Elf. Can you do it? Will the engine start? Doubt Elf brings with him the Excuses Guy. Excuses Guy says thing like, “Don’t start quite yet, you still have weeding/straightening/whatever to do,” and “Shouldn’t you be promoting your just published book?”

Excuses will end when you stop making them

Mirka M. G. Breen, August 2012

She’s right^. I remind myself of another thing-This is *for me.* I’m happiest writing the first draft.

On your mark, get set---
©Tony Carrillo


  1. I love how our bodies and minds become familiar, even comfortable with routines, and how they can work in our favor. So yay that you're getting twitchy and ready to write! I only wish doubt didn't have to show up like an uninvited guest alongside the excitement.

  2. I took the summer off from drafting new novels. I hope to jump back in in September. I have to proofread Touch of Death and do first round edits on Stalked by Death first, but after that, I'm drafting again!

  3. I wish I were happiest writing the first draft! It's awful for me. I dread it, avoid it and see it as a necessary evil. I'm excited to see what you come up with!

  4. Same pattern here for me ... and I do like filling the well, doing free-writing at the park, beaches, kids always in tow. I'm getting ready to make subs. Eeek!!!! I mean a novel-sub!

    I like revising far more than writing that first draft, though there is a certain joy to spilling the story, discovering it. I hope you will have a wonderful productive fall ... may the muse be with you always.

  5. Sometimes you write, sometimes you have to get the weeding done before you can write. Today I spent much of the day either circling a revision I need to get moving on, reading Courtship & Curses, and filling an entire 30-gallon waste bin with crabgrass was a foot high in places and just a couple of days away from going to seed. It that sprang up after the rains ended the heat wave but there were other things to do. Tonight I made myself do just 5 minutes and before you know it, the whole area was clear. and it felt soooooo good to get that part of the driveway cleared out. I knew it was bugging me, but I didn't know how much until I pried it all up; some of those plants were a foot high! If it was the Doubt Elf, I'm grateful! I'll banish him/her tomorrow, but for tonight, I worked off the chai I had this afternoon while trying to decide which of Darcy Pattison's review techniques to start with, so...

  6. This summertime recreational director/mama is getting twitchy too! Two more weeks to go before my full-fledged writing schedule kicks in. I can't wait!

  7. I thought I was the only one running Camp Mama.! So glad to know I am not alone. Looking forward to school starting and fleshing out the ideas scribbled on scraps of paper throughout the summer. 13 days and a wake up to go.

  8. Taking the summer off sounds like a great idea. The time just after a beak is usually super exciting and productive. Wishing you the best with your new project =D

  9. I really like that quote. I hope your new season of drafting goes great!

  10. I was meant to read this post! :) I have a 17 monthold daughter who is a 25lb wrecking ball and tazmanian devil all rolled into one very adorable, very opinionated package, and my attention is at the very top of her things-i-want list. My manuscript was just accepted for publishing by WiDo, and as I'm bracing myself for the first round of edits I'm also preparing my husband for a nocturnal wife so I can make everything fit in a day. It's so nice to see that I'm not alone :)

    1. Congratulations, Jadie! My kiddos are no longer of that young a vintage, but no matter their age, the challenge to make time for pure focus remains.