When Writing Isn’t Your Life

This week started off the spring quarter at UW, and my schedule consists of all English classes, which makes me both excited and exhausted. Mostly because last quarter, I wrote around 60k words, which would normally be cause for celebration—if ~49k of those words weren’t attributed to my schoolwork. And this was only with a single English class.

11k words in three months.

11k words in three months—three months: how long it took for me to finish the 125k words of the first draft of (what I hope will be) my debut, this time last year.

And yes, school is extremely important to me, both socially and academically, but it’s hard not to think that I’m waning when I compare the numbers. I have so many ideas and all I want to do is write all day, to live and breathe that cliche dream of sitting by a big window with lots of pillows, feet kicked up with socks engaged, laptop growing warm on my lap as my tea steams on the sill beside me. I can see a distant point in the future where writing is my life, but realistically at this moment, that’s just not possible. I have school and I have the constant, still fairly new press of being a ‘real’ adult, and finding out how to take care of myself in more ways than one.

Burned out at 18, says a voice in my head, and then another a moment later, much louder, YOU ARE BEING SO DAMN DRAMATIC AGAIN AND FOR WHAT REASON???

Spring break arrived as a saving grace. I wrote ~10k words over that week and a half, and devised a plan for this quarter, to weave through the writing assignments I will no doubt have for my English classes: creating a schedule for my WIPs—a very Adult thing to do. And then drown my insecurities with logic:

I was editing for most of winter quarter. That counts as work.

I was working on synopses revisions. Conceptual strengthening is just as important as the novel it guides.

I broke 70k on my WIP. That’s progress.

I like to think that that’s how to achieve a balance of this: to grab the words when I can and avoid agonizing over the ones I can’t, and to savor what I can do instead of kicking myself whenever my priorities have to be shifted. I feel guilty when life gets in the way of my writing, and this derives from the frustration that comes with writing not being my entire life, and therein the problem lies: I want to jump to this point in my future that needs to gradually click into place. I need to be patient with my life and maybe relax a little in the way it seems to creep forward slowly now, and have trust in myself that the work I do will land me exactly where I want to be. After all, all good stories have good pacing.

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