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‘How Do I Discipline Myself for Writing?’
Crackpot Phonebooth: Mister Grey Is Wondering How to Optimize Content Creation
A few years ago I just powered through, used self-hatred and a punishing will to push onward into the night, generally staying up for 36 hours three times per week and sometimes hitting 48 hours, using caffeine and alcohol alternately to induce and extend writing trances…and, this time two years past, I shattered my nose into seven pieces beating my face against a desk and a hardwood floor for 4 hours of demon-level seizures splattering blood up to seven feet from the point of collision of face and board…
I have been on the softer trail ever since, treating my body and mind more like a cheap and brittle surfboard rather than as the sandcastle of my will, going with the tide of life rather than defying it.
I now follow the path of least resistance, paying attention to when I have good writing energy, going all in at that juncture and trying to bail before my right eye, which is my good eye, blows up into a seizure, putting on the eye patch and then resting mind and eyes as I exercises the body or maybe rest it too, depending on how it feels. As a writer, I see myself in hospice at this point.
On my monthly word count report, you will notice a handful of days each month where I write nothing. This is new and began with the extended eye seizures that wracked me like a hard-riding witch through March and April back in Portland following my highest ever output. I traced these seizures back to long hours of daily and nightly writing which saw 10 books completed in 3.5 months. So, I have backed off the writing intensity and take more breaks, manage the right eye like I do my injured fighter parts in sparring.
Understanding that you have a fulltime job, I will suggest that you keep an inspirational log on you, a memo pad where you note high levels of creative ideas while on the job, off the job and in between. You will make a mental map of your energy levels and then, even if five days a week you might get a spike in creative energy at work, where it will most likely be waisted, let it sink back into you.
Now bide your time. Let’s say that at 3:30 in the afternoon as you are unloading the last truck of the day, you seem to get your best ideas, seem to have your most mental energy. But by the time you get home a few hours later, you are tired, the ideas slipped away or concealed behind a curtain of fatigue.
Don’t fight it, but rest. Then when you wake, feed your brain by reading or other inspirational media.
Now, when back at work, try to write on your break and if you can, shift your break towards a higher energy portion of your shift, nearer that 3:30 window.
This will get you some creative goods, notes at least. With such a method you want to write in small bites, one scene at a time, not big-concept narrative.
So, if 3:30 is when the inspiration comes at work, schedule that slot for writing on your day off.
Ultimately, your big production, as a part time writer and full time worker [which is how I wrote my first seven books between 1992-2010] is to be ready for your day off, your vacation week, when you are injured [I wrote 3 books when down with back injuries from work] or laid off, ready to be rested, coffee mug at hand, when your magic slice of the day dawns on those days that actually belong to you.
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