So far, I’ve felt the most productive in my career as an author when I wasn’t writing. Eight hours a day or more, five days a week, a happy buzz, and exactly 0 words written. Clearly, I was doing something wrong, so I began to write every day.
At first it was easy, but my subconscious was working against me. I wrote 8,000 words of drivel a day during National Novel Writing Month 2010, which, though crappy, still set unrealistic expectations. I couldn’t even write 2,000 words a day. I found myself less and less motivated, and the harder I tried and the longer hours I set, the worse it got. The more I forced myself to sit down and write, the worse I failed and the longer I spent contemplating that failure instead of living life – life, the fabric of stories!
I dreaded the act of writing. Meanwhile, the stories and world still came to life in my mind when I daydreamed, which I found myself doing a lot. The story was still alive, but my ability to set it down on paper was in the midst of a slow and painful death, 9-to-5 Monday through Friday.
I came to a few important realizations:
- If I couldn’t make writing a positive experience, I would not be able to continue. Period. End of stories. End of dream.
- Time spent daydreaming was productive, but it could not be confined to a 9-5 workday. Nor could I track it, since it happened in my sleep as well.
- And finally, I read a BoingBoing interview with Ran Prieur that allowed me to give myself some slack. I was, and am still, learning to self-motivate.
“When you quit that, and you have these vast blocks of time where there’s nothing you’re supposed to be doing, people get depressed. What you’re doing during that time is you’re learning to self motivate.”
So the new plan:
- All writing “counts” as productive writing: dreams, journals, and blogs. I pay myself in karma and kudos.
- Social motivation is huge. Get my stuff in front of people as soon as possible. I <3 Wise Readers! You'll see stuff soon, I promise.
- Relax time constraints and do other things. Have more adventures. Have fun. Life sucked as a “full time writer,” so I’m making it a priority to be Brian Kung full-time.
What I forgot was that it’s not about wasting time hammering my head against the clock. It’s about telling stories and having fun doing it. It’s about being a complete person.