Day 12 #1000wordsofsummer 2018
|Jami Attenberg||Nov 25, 2019|
Today you will write 1000 words. This is no longer an exercise or an experiment. You understand how this works. You know how to do this. You need to do this. You will write 1000 words.
Over the course of this project, I've been writing these #1000wordsofsummer emails right after I wake up in the morning. Two days ago, I wrote the next day’s email the night before, instead of writing it first thing as I got out of bed. The idea was that when I woke up I wouldn’t be thinking about anything but my book. How would my brain behave if I removed the task that had been blocking it for the previous ten days? It worked: I had a wonderful breakthrough.
It was 6 AM and I wasn't quite awake yet and I couldn't find my glasses or my phone or my notebook and I was cursing and rushing around my room, tossing pillows and bedding, all the while hoping I would remember what I was thinking long enough to write it down. But then I found my notebook and my glasses, and I hurriedly wrote, and I saw not only how I should end the story but also how to lay the groundwork for the ending earlier in the book. Parts shifted until they reconnected in a new way.
Because I've been working on this book for months, it was probably time for something like that to happen. But I also believe I had the breakthrough because I had cleared a path for it the night before. While I understand and respect that many of you have much busier lives than I do, I will still ask this question: can you move one thing out of the way before you go to bed tonight that you might have done in the morning? Can you make room for your breakthrough? Because it's waiting for you.
Today’s guest is Alissa Nutting, who is an utterly unique American writer. (Have you read MADE FOR LOVE? You should read this book.) Her mind, her voice, and her sense of humor astonish me. She is also an educator, and a parent, and works her ass off.
"I’ve come to understand all the different types of work that can go into writing—there’s brainstorming, editing, revising, rereading, outlining, research, engaging in inspiration and influences…I definitely don’t always feel like writing-writing, hammering out the original material. And it’s true that as a writer I do often have to do writing-writing when I don’t feel like it. And it’s true that the more I write whether or not I feel like it, the easier/more familiar that practice gets. But some hours, days, weeks…it just isn’t possible. Children are screaming and literally clinging to my body, or I’m scheduled for meetings every hour as a professor, etc. At those times, instead of not working on my project, I’ve started asking myself, what could I manage right now? Could I tinker with a paragraph? Brainstorm about a scene I’m imagining writing soon? Read a chapter of a book that has an affinity with the book I’m trying to write? If I can’t move forward in terms of the manuscript word count on any given day, I’ll try to still figure out a way to do something in the service of my project that allows for the circumstances of my life over the next 24-hours."