You leave your writers’ group meeting full of anticipation, your mind buzzing with helpful critique and your fingers aching to get at the keyboard. That evening, you devote a couple of hours to your novel, and go to bed feeling that warm, self-righteous glow that comes from productivity. Your next meeting is in four weeks—not a lot of time to produce 20 pages.
The next day, your husband reminds you that you have company coming and the bathrooms need cleaning but he can’t help because he has an early morning tee-time. You sigh the sigh of domestically martyred women everywhere and put on the rubber gloves. When they come off later in the day, you’re too exhausted to check your email, let alone write.
Since you are also a freelancer, Murphy’s Law says that you will get three new projects the minute you take a vacation day to write.
Your sister’s cat gets sick. You need to buy a light bulb and new socks. And your dishwasher needs servicing.
By the time you emerge from this glacier of responsibility, you realize that it’s almost fall and you haven’t written a word in two weeks.
It’s official—you’re derailed.
When you realize that you’ve gone off the tracks, your first emotion is despair. You fret that you’ve lost whatever motivation you may have had to write; that you’ll never get another spark of creativity; that writing won’t make you any money anyway so why bother. The computer is a mute reminder of your thwarted ambition.
But then you feel a little better. It gets easier to not write. You watch reality television. You have dinner with your family. You shop for a new dishwasher.
You work and cook and clean and do all those things that keep your life going. You go for walks. You try a yoga workout. You become a regular visitor at www.CuteOverload.com.
All of a sudden, you remember that you love to read. You immediately devour four women’s magazines, a collection of fairy tales re-told for adults, half a fantasy novel, and the Onion, all in one week.
You re-visit an old Alice Munro story. You finally get what Rust Hills meant when he said “a short story tells of something that happens to someone.”
One day, while you’re flipping through the newspaper, you are struck by an article about a dog who was found at death’s door after being abandoned by his owner. You think how interesting it would be to write a fictional take on the vet who struggles to heal the dog, while she also struggles to extricate herself from a love affair gone sour.
You get that ache in your fingers again.
You decide that So You Think You Can Dance is overrated. You go a day without cute-cat videos. You open up your work-in-progress to the place you left off nearly two weeks ago. You tell yourself you’ll write one paragraph before having dinner.
Three hours later, your husband asks if he should pick up pizza or Thai.
You’re back on track.