Writing Pipeline

I've been back on a productivity kick these past few weeks, without much explanation. Though my summer hasn't, exactly, taken me out side of the academy, I'm more firmly in the in the 9-5 support aspect of an institution, and so I don't get the delightful "manage your own schedule" and generous sense of work that I'm used to (and are common to college and university life), so in order to stay on the blogging and writing bandwagon, I've had to re think the way that I organize my time and "get things done."

For the six or so months before I started working I'd been on a morning schedule, where I did what I could to work early in the morning, and did things like read and knit in the afternoon. Working in the morning disrupts this, as you might imagine. The other issue is that most evenings aren't good for sitting down in front of a blank document and writing: I have a hard time really getting into things, I'm not at my prime level of alertness, and I'm trying to not completely squeeze out relaxation time. It's good to let go every now and then.

In this vein, I've been thinking a lot about how I write, and what kind of snags I tend to get me, so that when I do get a morning, or an afternoon to write, I can make the best of it. And it's making sure that I keep up with my outlining and planning. For a few weeks, I would go hear music at an Irish pub on Tuesday nights--when no one was there--and sit in the corner with my moleskin and fountain pen, and outline a dozen articles, story parts, and station keeping pieces. Then I'd go home and have plenty of things to write about for the coming week(s). It was a great ritual, as they go, and almost without dedicating any energy to it, I had material to work with.

When I don't have specific outlining sessions, or it gets away from me, I find myself with good writing time, and no real clue as to what I should be writing, and it's not that I have writers block, or that something's wrong, but that I'm better when I have an outline or at least notes on hand. In a weird way, it's like a first draft, except a bit more rough. By the time I'm sitting at a computer, I like to have been through the story, the argument once and not have to generate it on the fly. While I can generate new stuff on the computer, the temptation to write completely is strong.

And when I'm in the throws of drafting, I will forget to outline more, because I like milk a momentum for as much as it's worth, and before you know it: bam! and I'm out of things to write. So the "hack" here is to not only make time to write, and seize writing time from the interstitial moments in your day, but also make sure that you make outlining a valid effort that deserves its own time. While I often have trouble writing at night, it's much easier for me to outline at night, and I try take advantage of this. I also make sure that outlining, in addition to drafting and revising, are things that make it onto the 'todo' lists with equal footing. Understandably it also means that word counts, should/do become a less useful indicator of progress, but there are worse things.

Anyway, I hope this was useful. Be well and write in good health.

Cheers, tycho

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