A little while back I mentioned that monsoon season was starting in New Mexico, bringing all that metaphorical and literal goodness to my life. Such a rain of blessings, indeed! Carina Press put Rogue’s Pawn on sale for 99 cents (through July 19, if you haven’t snapped up that deal yet) and it was featured on Book Bub. Amazing results in that it hit #2 in Fantasy Romance. Right behind Dean Koontz, which had us all scratching our heads. Turns out he’s doing more romance and less horror these days.
Still – me and ol’Dean, yanno? Such a major rush to see this book ranked so high.
I saw this go by on Twitter this week – Henry Miller’s set of “commandments” for himself on getting his work done. I’d never seen it before and thought it’s so very smart.
One aspect I like best here is that he made this list for himself. Who knows, in today’s era he’d maybe have put it up on his blog. But then, he’s clearly addressing himself. I particularly love that he forbids himself from adding more material to “Black Spring.” There are a lot of great nuggets here – the acknowledgment that “creating” doesn’t always feel like it can happen every day, but work can. To work with pleasure and not make it into a chore. The one that really struck me, however – maybe because I’m not sure I’ve seen another writer encounter this – is #4: Stop at the appointed time.
I’ve discovered this is really key for me. We all have the bad days, the tooth-pulling ones. Where every word feels hard-fought. On the worst ones, I don’t get my wordcount and that bothers me. I’ve discovered, though, that sometimes that happens. Sometimes the story needs to cook or I just don’t have the mojo that day. If I’ve put in the diligent effort, I try to cut myself the slack and let it go. Usually the next day is much better. Sometimes I’ll have several days in a row like this and I just have to chip away at it.
The reverse is the true glory. The days that every writer lives for – when the words pour out in a rush, as if from another place, and I only have to type as fast as I can to get it all down. On those days, it can be VERY tempting to keep going. Especially since I usually have time, because I got the wordcount fast and easily. Often I go over on those days by 100 or 200 words.
And I find myself thinking, why not go for an extra 1K?
I used to do this, but I don’t let myself anymore. Which is why I’m fascinated that Henry Miller apparently set this rule for himself, also.
It’s important for a working writer to learn to write through mood. In essence, you can’t let the bad days get you down. I think it’s equally important not to let the good days carry you away. Inevitably, if I milk that flow and push for extra words, push past the appointed time, I incur some damage.
I’m not sure why this is, it just is.
(Okay – I suspect it has something to do with breaking an agreement with my subconscious self, but that gets into complicated territory fast.)
What kind of damage? Usually I’ll trigger a crash and then I’ll get a run of days of shortfall. So much so that, in the overall scheme, I’ll end up behind my timeline instead of ahead of it. Totally not worth it. It would be interesting to know if Henry encountered the same thing.
So this is my rule for myself now, too. I stop at the appointed time or at my wordcount goal and call it done. Has anyone else encountered this? Either in an artistic pursuit or some other arena?
Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!
5 Replies to “Knowing When to Stop”
Writing through mood! Yes. So important. MT @jeffekennedy: Knowing When to Stop: A little while back I mentioned… http://t.co/IeEEGQ8g2W
Even though I am not a writer, I always find these types of posts fascinating and I can totally see you and the breaking an agreement thing. 🙂
RT @jeffekennedy: Knowing When to Stop: A little while back I mentioned that monsoon season was starting… http://t.co/Frp03LBYUx
I saw this list on Brainpickings a few months ago and made a little poster for my office wall. Love it.
ooh, make me one too! 🙂