Productivity at Any Cost?

This month I wrote 2200 words, most of it on the revision train. I had expected to finish The Pawn of Isis and send it out to beta readers today. But…my mother died. Very quickly, of cancer. There were hospital visits, and then funeral arrangements, and apartment clearing, and grief, then grief with illness. Right now, I think I’m beginning to get back on my feet.  Ask me if I could write through any of that. I clocked 1.5 hours of sheer escape. And that’s it. Desperation writing, which I could not find more time to do.

There are those writers who will tell you that you must write every day, or else you are not serious. Well. I think that advice really, really needs to change. I am a serious writer. Hey, I am the turtle of writing. Slow and steady, in pre-planned time chunks, never a sprinter, always a plodder, moving forward in the way each book demands. I have a full-time job. Relationships I value. I am not a procrastinator. And yet, I don’t write every day.

Some days, I can’t write. Maybe work was too demanding. Maybe I’m tired or sick. Maybe the unexpected has occurred. As a matter of fact, many, many writers have full-time jobs and other obligations. I begin to think that most of us do these days. We value insurance, we value retirements. We value human contact. And a stable income that comes at reasonable intervals

I am not dissing full-time writers. I am saying that my career plan is very different. And even if my career plan weren’t, I suspect most writers would have a hard time finding voice with the month I’ve had. Many of us are having trouble with the current climate of our country.

I believe we need to be gentle and forgiving with ourselves. I could berate myself for my not reaching my goal, but I just can’t see it right now. I’m not a machine. We are not machines. We are human beings, artists, who feel deeply, else we would not be writers, artists, creators. And we live in extraordinary times. Sometimes the times inflict the extraordinary upon us.

Write when you can. Write when it gives you joy. Don’t make it a chore or a goal you didn’t reach. And when you can write, appreciate the gift of time, the gift of motivation, the gift of creativity. Right now, that’s what gives me light and hope.

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