Every once in awhile, my writing life starts to feel like an assembly line, like my stories are widgets I'm just churning out. This happens when I stop paying attention – attention to the craft, to creativity, to passion and to purpose. And, to my regret, I haven't been paying attention for longer than I care to admit.
But this past summer, I found my way back to myself and to my writing, and earlier this month I read an excellent blog post by Annie Neugebauer over at Writer Unboxed - "Advice to Writers Who Are In It" - that reinforced a lot of what I recently realized. Here are a few highlights that struck me:
On working harder – "What matters is that you do your best work as often as you can without burning out. When you're mid-project, you need to be deep, deep in your high-effort zone every work day for a good chunk of time. It's not about what other people are doing or can do; it's about what you can do."
On thinking more deeply – "Thinking is valuable. I'm not trying to sound condescending, but we often forget that. In a society that tells us we have to be proving concrete output to be productive, it's easy to bypass that nothing-to-show-for-it part of the process where we stop and really think. Think hard. Think deep. Think for a long time, if you need to. It's what ultimately makes your work great. Thought. Don't let the word count bogies convince you you don't have time for it."
On not barreling through – "Sometimes we need to "power through," yes . . . But for the love of all things literary, stop barreling through. You're not a bulldozer; you're a writer. Writing isn't always a thing you can muscle. Willpower, maybe, but not the craft . . . Sometimes slow is faster in the end."
How's your writing life? Are you working harder, thinking more deeply? Or have you been barreling through? Can you guess what the tortoises' favorite part of this post is?