I’ve noticed a pattern the past couple of weeks.
I have a lot to say. From following up on the issue of chronic illness and parenting to re-visiting that lofty January goal of balance to so many others things, I do not suffer from lack of ideas.
And yet, whenever it’s time to settle down and crank out a post, I end up reading. Sometimes it’s Penelope Trunk or Dawn Friedman, sometimes it’s Kairol Rostenthal or Duncan Cross or Sick Momma.
What can I say? I’m eclectic.
It’s not an issue of being too sick to write, like I am sometimes, nor is it an issue of competing priorities. (I think I’ve forsaken the idea of negotiating them right now, anyway.)
Instead, it’s idea overload.
And in a much more exaggerated way, the same thing is happening with what appears in my mind as full caps, the much longed-for and equally feared BOOK 2.
I’ve discovered something: I really love research. Getting lost in journals, tracking down archived information, furiously annotating books (and books, and books). Of course I love the writing part, but that was a given. The more research I do, the more I want to write, the more the ideas develop and complicate each other in ways I didn’t foresee.
But the past couple of weeks I’ve found that I’ve used research as a distraction, something tangible I can say I’m doing for the oh-so-demanding BOOK 2, something I know is important to the overall process.
But deep down I know I’m doing it because I have so many ideas in my head, so many images of what material I’ll add to which paragraph and which interviews will flow best, that I’m running in circles.
Now, I’ve tried to be proactive about this. I diligently schedule in daily chunks of writing time, even if it means pulling back-to-back 7-8 hour workdays on the weekend. I precisely list the topics I need to address on a particular day.
I even recently hired a research assistant, who is fabulous and competent and efficient. I make lists for her, and she skillfully completes the tasks and gets me the information I need.
(I know! It’s the best.thing.ever.)
And yet I remain trapped in my own head, word counts taunting me and stacks of research beckoning me.
One of my students wrote recently that the hardest part is the doing—after free-writing and just seeing what comes about is the best way she can eventually get around to her point.
I think that could be the solution. I’m so immersed in ideas that I’m hemming myself in. I need to let go and see what happens, with less analyzing what I need to write or should write and more barebones writing.
Letting go is never easy for me. (Seriously. Ask my husband when it’s midnight and I’m obsessing about something.)
So, deep breath. Write now, worry about structure and voice and perfection later.
At least I got this piece done. It’s a start.
Writers, researchers, and kindred control freaks everywhere, any other tips?