Thursday, January 11, 2007

Deadlines and Patience

by Kristine Coblitz

I struggled to come up with a witty and informative topic for today’s post, but I kept coming up empty. The holidays are over, and it’s back to the daily drudge of being a working stiff. My life isn’t very interesting right now, which is probably why finding a compelling topic for this blog turned into a somewhat impossible task.

January is always a busy month in the magazine business. Due to the fact that no one seems to work during the month of December anymore, I’m forced to play catch up in getting my articles secured and press releases filed for the February issue, which is due to the printer in a week. I have to track down previous unanswered calls to sources for the March issue and expect these people to turn out 1,500-word articles for me in two weeks.

The tricky part is shutting off this part of the brain when it comes to my fiction writing projects. Over the holidays, I announced that I’d finish the second draft of my novel by the end of January. I’m realizing now that it may have been a bit optimistic.

I just finished reading a great book about writing called “Writing From The Inside Out” by Dennis Palumbo. In it, he talks a lot about overcoming the emotional roadblocks to writing such as fear, procrastination, and impatience. According to Dennis, writers are encouraged to take the “long view”—which means “being both energized and relaxed; enthusiastic and patient.” It means “just doing your work, day in and day out, forging your process out of the raw materials of your experience. Keeping your focus in the tension between building craft in the now and holding hope for the future.”

If you want to check out Dennis Palumbo’s website, click HERE. (FYI: According to the book, he's originally from Pittsburgh.)

So I’ve decided to be a bit easier on myself. I’m going to focus on my daily writing, working on developing my craft instead of stressing myself out over meeting a self-imposed and unrealistic deadline. I’ll leave the stress-induced deadlines for my day job working for the magazine.

As a parting thought, I leave you with another quote from the book, which is “Writers are better served by exploring more fully where they are now—and that requires patience.”

So I accept that I have a long way to go on my second draft, but if anyone has any tricks for being patient, I'd love to hear them.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Kristine.

Unfortunately, I can't help you with the patience thing. I'm a procrastinator at heart, so what seems like patience is really just me putting things off. That's why I do better with deadlines--even self-imposed ones.

Now perseverance I can help you with...

Cathy said...

I usually enjoy rewriting better than the first go through. And you have the luxury of time on your side. Didn't Heather say she has eight months to write the second novel? I've been putting it off, so I'm sure you've written circles around me. Enjoy the journey.

Inspirational blog, Kristine.

Anonymous said...

For me, lack of patience is linked to self-criticism. I feel like I should be further along than I am.

My self-acceptance task of the month is being okay with not knowing where my writing is going right now. I need to stick with my lack of direction until a way emerges that I'm invested in enough to stick with for years. But that doesn't happen overnight!

Our meeting last night got me thinking about where I want my writing to go. I can't say I've come up with any answers since then, but it feels good to be facing the question head on rather than avoiding it.

Anonymous said...

Kristine, I think a daily page quota helps me from getting bogged down or--as you point out--impatient with the whole process. Even 2 pages a day is a goal worth making for yourself because it breaks a seemingly insurmountable task into very small, but do-able portions. With a small page quota, you can be really, really pleased with what you accomplish, and it's hard to be overly critical of just 2 pages.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristine,
great post. I agree that the push and pull of writing and the business in which it lives is difficult to deal with. Most important, probably, is get the writing done. But then again, patience is not my middle name or anywhere on the family tree. Good luck with everything.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments! I'm trying to look at the short picture in meeting smaller goals in my writing instead of the big picture and driving myself crazy over when the whole manuscript will be finished.

Tory, good for you! I think evaluating your writing is a great first step.