Friday, August 27, 2010

Writing; Mashrou' Leila

Writing's getting hard for me these days.

Not the word-smithery aspect: that comes as easily (and as painfully, sometimes) as ever.

No. The hard part for me now--and by "now," I guess I mean "in the last few years"--is the time-management aspect.

You see, when I write, I tend to get obsessed. I eat, sleep, breathe the piece, take hours on a sentence or a paragraph, getting the rhythm just so. I dodge email, drop other tasks, and focus. My shift this summer from blogging again (hurray!) to total silence? That was because I was writing--one conference paper, one thirty-page introduction to some essays. (Well, that and a LOT of editing.)

The trouble is, I can't sustain that sort of obsession. Especially when it's the school year, and I have to, you know, teach. Grade. Meet with colleagues and students. (Pesky things.)

Now, I have a lot of writing ahead of me this late summer and fall. A lot I want to do more generally. And if I'm going to get it done, I'm going to have to find a better rhythm for my days: one that incorporates the pesky stuff (students, teaching, colleagues), a lot of reading (poetry, fiction, scholarship), family duties (up at 6:30, makin' those breakfasts!), and somehow writing as well.

Haven't done that before, or at least, not in many years. Not well. And I'm not really sure how to start. Every time I think I should get started on an essay, there's something else that pops into my head: a grant application that's due soon; an essay to edit by someone else; another book I really ought to read.

What I need is some new rhythm to the day: a time for this, a time for that, in which writing takes its place w/o expanding to obsess me.

Any of you productive folks out there have any suggestions?


Today's song is "Raski Leila," by the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila. I think it's about eggplant. Enjoy, while I go do some reading, or editing, know...that other thing.

1 comment:

Laura Vivanco said...

Have you re-read Crusie's essay about Taking Out the Garbage. That might give you some ideas for the longer term.

In the short term, I wonder if you could make sure you have a set length of time each day, towards the middle or end of the day, which you set aside for writing, and into which nothing else is allowed to encroach. Then, if you start the day with admin/more routine things, you'll be able to mull over the topic in the back of your mind for a lot of the day before your writing block of time arrives, so hopefully when it does arrive, your brain will be bursting with ideas and ready to get down to writing straight away.