We’ve just enjoyed a long weekend in Perth and I must confess that I didn’t access social media once. Not a single Facebook click, peek at Instagram, or even a tiny Twitter chirp. Not in itself a dumb thing to do, but today’s social media catchup has only compounded the lack of progress on my WIP over the weekend – the one I intend entering into the Richell Prize For Emerging Writers in a few weeks time.
I didn’t intend to go cold turkey. Social media never sleeps and becomes unwieldy if not kept in check – even over a long weekend. And I had firm plans to complete the WIP chapter I had been working on.
So what went wrong? Why did I potentially sabotage such an important deadline? And if I was given back my weekend, would I choose to lock myself in a room and stare down anyone who dared invade my writing space?
Sure, I scored top marks for ‘family time’. I took the kids to see their grandfather and indulged my daughter’s love of craft (we’re talking bring in a skip bin and hose down the craft / writing room of glitter, glue and cornflour afterwards – there are still stains in the rug…)
I know these are all excuses. Social media functions quite happily with only half an hour dedicated to it here or there. Up until 5pm on Friday I was on a roll with my WIP. It probably would have been smart to keep that momentum going. But I had underestimated the amount of creative energy it has needed over the past couple of months. Finding the right voice and fine-tuning it to ‘competition-standard’, along with drawing up a synopsis, has drained my brain.
‘Ridiculous!’, I initially told myself. Lives aren’t in the balance and the bank won’t take the house away if my sentences aren’t structured properly. What’s the problem with adding a few more words? I’m still fairly new to writing. Those who have been at it for much longer might recognise this as writer fatigue. It’s a ‘thing’. I just googled it. And as usual there are plenty of suggestions on how to beat it. But why now? When I have mere weeks to create the best impression possible.
I spent a great deal of the weekend on my all-time favourite hobby. I have recently come to realise that this hobby is very similar to writing. It requires editing, self critiquing, and most importantly, a knack for story telling. And a self-imposed deadline helps too.
For years I have recorded my family’s little events on iMovie. Every single holiday, some birthday parties, and those first steps – all captured and woven into stories with a killer soundtrack. This weekend, instead of working on my Richell entry I created another disc for our Italian holiday box-set (I say ‘box-set’ tongue-in-cheek, but there are already seven discs, each around 40 minutes, with three more to go…)
Don’t worry – they’re only for family consumption. I don’t torment friends and neighbours with them. But I have to admit, they are entertaining and well made. And the self imposed deadline? We have begun a new tradition of closing our weekends with pizza on the couch, watching our extensive collection of home movies. Our children have an awesome sense of humour – we can follow its development over the years on the screen and enjoy seeing how much they’ve grown.
Making a movie this weekend made me realise that my writing will be fine. The movies reflect my story telling abilities. They take a lot of dedication and a long time to make. Like writing, they weave emotions, humour, knowledge, visual imagery and a sequence of events into something that can be enjoyed over and over. They are edited to within an inch of their lives – each one is an improvement on the one before. And when I have a deadline that matters to me, I know that I will meet it.
So, avoiding my WIP over the weekend wasn’t a dumb thing to do. My new writing muscles are still growing and need rest from time to time, but they’re continually getting stronger.
Story telling – in whatever form it takes – is a very powerful and rewarding thing. And now that I’ve shared this story on my blog, I can give my competition entry the last push it needs.