As longtime readers may know, I have been very blocked when it comes to writing over the years. Going on seven, now. It all started with a plan to write four books at once. Those four books are still in development.
Recently, I’ve been making some good progress, however, and I figured I’d share what has been working for me.
I take care of my son during the weekdays while my wife is at work. I get my editing jobs done during naptime and in the evenings. The days are packed. Taking care of an infant is wild, especially when that infant wants to crawl, wants to walk, wants to do things all the time. He’s an active boy, even at seven months.
Take this blog post, for example. He’s in his Pack and Play, testing out the mesh barriers like a velociraptor, looking for a weak spot. He’s shouting at Cookie Monster. He’s trying to eat Cookie Monster. Etc.
So when do I write? Whenever I can. Oftentimes, I write with Gus in my lap. Not so easy, as he’s trying to smash the keys, nosedive, and eat my face. Yesterday, for example, I got a few sentences out over the course of an hour. Pecking them with one finger.
And that, as it turns out, was the key.
Not necessarily pecking them with one finger, but taking it slow. All of this ambition and need for speed has ironically kept me from doing anything at all. Once confronted with a solitary sentence that has to be typed incredibly slowly (sometimes left alone mid-sentence for an hour while you go for a walk) you begin to sink into the sentence itself, and thus the world of the novel.
Then, you’re not just rehearsing how you’re going to finish that sentence once you get back to it. You’re figuring out where you’re going to go next. Developing a plan. Once you get that glorious opportunity, you’ve actually got entire paragraphs composed in your head. Waiting.
You sit down at night with a beautiful thirty minutes to write and those paragraphs come out like water from a fire hose. Then you’re done, and you start it all again the next day.
Paradoxes live everywhere, especially in art. I remember thinking, once Gus was born, when am I going to have time to write? Humorous in retrospect, as I wasn’t really doing all that much writing before he was born.
I had to slow down to move forward.
Typing with one finger. Sinking into the world.