Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: Habits of a (Slightly More) Productive Writer
I’ve discerned a couple of trends in my writing practice over the past couple of weeks.
First, I’ve been getting up earlier each weekday, and sneaking in either a) more writing before I leave for the day job or b) a workout at the gym before the same. Both activities seem to be boosting my mood and energy level. I feel as though I’ve accomplished something important for myself before heading off to the land of 9 to 5. (Please remind me that I wrote this if and when I slip back into less-productive habits.)
Slightly more interesting, or at least unexpected, is the extent to which I’ve been taking to heart from Midge Raymond’s Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life. As part of her counsel on ways to meet our writing goals, Midge advises: “Don’t dismiss unfinished projects.” She explains: “I’ve found many gems in long-abandoned projects….Never abandon old ideas; you never know when they’ll suddenly be relevant. Revisit all your ‘old’ stories, poems, or essays at least once a year.”
And what do you know? Some interesting things have happened since I’ve taken Midge’s advice to heart. First, I stumbled on a call for submissions that instantly reminded me of a quirky piece I’d drafted nearly a year ago but done nothing with since. I dug up that piece, spiffed it up a bit, submitted it, and received an acceptance shortly thereafter.
Then (and with some extra encouragement from one of my writing friends), I returned to my novel manuscript-in-the-drawer and extracted one of the chapters that I’d always believed might hold some standalone potential. I spent some time polishing that piece, and have sent it out as well. (We’ll see what happens there.)
Finally, motivated by one of the writing exercises in Áine Greaney’s Writer with a Day Job (the exercise included the suggestion to write about “the most shameful thing” one has ever done), I dug up an essayistic piece that I wrote at least 15 years ago—and thankfully printed out and stored in a binder—about an elementary-school misdeed that still haunts me. This is one of the projects I’m working on now, with no discrete deadline or call nudging me. But in my ongoing effort to sustain this momentum in my writing practice, I’m following Midge Raymond’s advice. I’m simply returning to an unfinished project. An old idea.
We’ll see where else it takes me.
P.S. I’m *not* starting my morning earlier today, because it’s Independence Day here in the U.S.A., and I’m not going to the away-from-home office! Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans!