I haven’t been very productive this summer. I’ve spent some time travelling, moved to a new home, and the Finnish summer has the admirable ability to pull people outside and away from their desks.
That’s not to mean I haven’t been working. Not counting when I was on holiday, I’ve continued to write practically every day. But most of the stuff I’ve been writing hasn’t been any good. Many people may think that the largest problem a writer faces is writer’s block, when inspiration fails, but I think there is something worse. This is when you have the inspiration, but you can’t turn that into something usable.
I suppose every individual writer has their own way of working through it. At first I just let the problem simmer and basically ignored it, giving my attention to other matters – like the new home, the sunshine, and the family of ducks that are living a few dozen metres away.
But unexpectedly I was jolted into doing something about my writer’s malaise from the one thing that always gets my attention: calls from editors and publishers.
‘So how are things going?’ they asked.
‘Holy crap,’ I answered. ‘What are you doing working during July? I thought you were on holiday!’
‘Well, yeah,’ they said. ‘But I wanted to check in with you. Can I see the new project?’
One of the first things I learned when I started writing professionally is to never, ever, under any circumstances show someone in the industry what you’re working on if you aren’t happy with it. To do so is to sacrifice your own standards. And if the publisher wants to see something, your job is to get it up to your standards as fast as possible. So it was time to return to seriousness.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been fanatically following my writing routine. I meditate every morning to get me into the right frame of mind, and I absolutely refuse to leave my desk until I’ve written my goal of words per day. And it’s working.
I absolutely love the feeling of writing something and knowing it is good. What is better is going back to it the next day and re-reading it and confirming to yourself that it is good. The act of creation gives a wonderful feeling, but the act of creating something good is much, much better.