Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writing By Your Own Watch

First off, a quick apology for my virtual disappearing act as of late. I actually just got back from the vacation I'd been dreaming about since my teenage years. The hubs and I went on a little Spring getaway to London, Paris and Rome, and now, four days after our return, I think the jet lag is finally wearing off. Whew!

I've been to London twice before and absolutely loved it, but Paris and Rome were always tops on my proverbial bucket list. Naturally, the trouble with something you've idealized for so long is that it often doesn't met your lofty expectations. But even as sky-high as my hopes were, I can say that certainly wasn't the case for how much I ended up loving the real Paris and Rome. It was even better than the one in my head that was cobbled together from various rom-coms and travel books I've enjoyed over the years.

Before I left DFW and ventured across the pond, I prayed that I'd get re-inspired while I was away. For reasons I couldn't quite pinpoint, I'd been in a bit of a funk recently and not really moving forward on my novel. Sure, I'd written a few lines I liked, fleshed out a couple of intriguing characters—and then nothing. Yeah, N-O-T-H-I-N-G...a word that's not exactly filled with promise.

But now that I'm back, I'm please to report that the time away from the familiar really did me good. Not only do I feel full of fresh inspiration for my project (with a few new tweaks to boot), but I'm practically chomping at the bit to get it all down. Now to finish those pesky work deadlines first, so I can officially get going...

And while I was walking down the cobblestone streets a stone's throw from Rome's famed Spanish steps, I even got an idea for what I'd write about this week on Scribble Chicks, namely writing by your own watch.

In the publishing world, or really any industry where creative output is the order of the day, there's a pretty high premium on producing consistently. And since my last novel released just shy of three years ago, I've been asked on several occasions by well-meaning writer friends and thoughtful people who've enjoyed my last books when the next one is hitting store shelves.

Now trust me, it's a great problem to know, people being interested in what you're up to. But sometimes as a writer, it can also make you play the dreaded comparison game and ask questions like "Why don't I have my third book out yet like so and so does?" Or you end up feeling guilty for not hurrying things along because in our here today, gone tomorrow A-D-D culture you worry that people will forget that you exist once you finally get around to having a new novel out.

But one day, in the midst of one of my internal freak-outs about when my next book would finally be ready for press, something so obvious but so encouraging occurred to me: Ultimately, we have to write by our own watch. In the same way that Abba's wristwatch has a tick-tock all its own when it comes to how our life's big plans play out in reality, our writing's timing may be different than someone else's, too. After all, merely being prolific is quite overrated if the quality simply isn't there—or if the story isn't complete. And for everyone, the process looks a little different.

So all that to say, I'm forging forward with a new perspective. I'm writing by my own watch. Do I have a goal in mind of when I'd like to submit the proposal for my latest work? Absolutely. But instead of comparing myself with what so and so is up to, I'm focusing on making my manuscript the best it can be, however long that takes...

So how about you? Do you find it difficult to write by your own watch and often compare your progress to someone else's? How do you combat those feelings and make progress in the meantime? Trust me, I'm all ears...even with a new outlook.


  1. Thank you for reminding me that the words come when they come...and they will never be forced (not and be the ones we want, anyway). So...back to my manuscript and writing on my own time.

    Thanks for the encouragement,

  2. I'm glad you had a good time in Europe!
    Thanks for such a great post! I do get caught in the comparison trap & feel the need to get it done NOW! It's nice to know im not alone.
    Can't wait to hear about your new book developments

  3. just want to let you know that I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I am really enjoying it.

    I am going through a somewhat stressful time in my life right now. Your blog really brings a smile to my face. Reading your blog is really a highlight of my day.

    Thank you for making my day with every post you write and being an encouragement to me!

  4. That's why we are here, Tay! Thanks for telling us :)

    Great post, lady, and I'm glad you had fun! I want to go to Europe so badly, but even if I had the cash, I'm not sure I could survive a plane trip that far...oy. "Doesn't like to fly" would be the understatement of the year for me. ;)

  5. You don't like to fly, Betsy? What if you had your own selection of a bunch of movies to distract you? Or people bringing you ice cream and snacks on a regular basis? Oh yeah, international flights are the best!

    P.S. Glad everyone enjoyed the post!

  6. Christa, if I was still thousands of feet in the air, it wouldn't help. lol