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One Cobble at a Time

A Conversation with My Writer Brain

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

A Conversation with My Writer Brain

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responsible woman

So writer brain, we went on a retreat and shook loose ideas. We wrote notes and began forming stories. We made a plan to try to write 1000 words per day, and just to make it easier we decided that both blogging and fiction in that word count. Yet we’re only averaging around 600 words per day, what is up with that?

I’m not really sure. Instead of having a head full of clear thoughts, all I’m getting is static. Maybe you need more sleep.

Okay, I’ll grant you that sleep has been more scarce than it ought to be. But there were things to stay up and accomplish and things to get up and accomplish. We took that three hour nap on Thursday, but you wrote almost nothing that day.

True. On Thursday I was still busy processing all the emotional baggage from Wednesday night. The back brain cycles were reallocated to parenting thoughts. Can’t you arrange for the kids to not have crises?

Not really. I don’t get to pick when they have troubles with friends, what their homework loads will look like, how they’ll handle those homework loads, or if they get sick. Stomach flu is no respecter of persons, nor of writing brain space. Still, I tried to feed you good information even though we were tired. When sleep wasn’t possible, we watched some good shows and listened to Writing Excuses.

Yes. I’m still digesting all of that too. Sometimes I need more space, not more input.

But I gave you space and you didn’t do anything with it.

Yes I did. Just not things that you could see. Percolation is invisible. I need time to be bored.

I know that. We wrote a blog post about that. I’ve been trying. I keep shielding us from additional tasks, not taking on new jobs, but some of the ongoing jobs keep popping up with new requirements. I had to dust off my art director hat this week because Howard is going to a convention with an art show. Then there are all the assistant things I need to do because Howard is stressed and up against three different deadlines. Also the dryer broke.

Just listen to yourself. All of that going on in your head and you wonder why I’m drown out with static. Once. That is the number of times that you have set aside a couple of hours to open up the files of fiction and forced yourself to write the next 1000 words. That was a 1400 word day.

So now you’re blaming me for not making space? I’m trying, but it is hard. The phone always rings or there are a dozen urgent emails.

If you don’t sit down, I can’t organize the words.

But sometimes you do. Sometimes I’ll be doing something else and you just throw words into the front of my brain so that I’m excited to go and write them down. Why can’t you do that all the time?

I’ll do it more if you build writing time into the day.

Yes. I know this. Writing is important. I keep feeling like it is important even when I don’t know what to write. Even when all the thoughts in my head flow together into an indistinguishable mass. I’m working on giving writing more space, prioritizing it higher on the list of things to do. I keep telling myself no excuses, just get it done. And somehow it all ends up feeling messy, sloppy, uninteresting. There are so many important projects in my life and writing is only one of them. Also, I feel pretty dumb sitting down to blog about writing. Surely I can come up with something more poetic and meaningful than whining about writing. Isn’t the point of writing something to add good to the world rather than to waste words in a meta examination of my own writing and the lack thereof?

We wrote some worthwhile stuff this week. Haven’t you looked back at it? We finished the Strength of Wild Horses draft.

Was that this week? Are you sure.

Go check.

Huh. It was, seems much longer ago. But surely we could have done more than that. Better.

We will. Bit by bit. 800 words a day, or 200 words a day, or 3 words a day if that is all we can do. Small daily efforts add up. Don’t get discouraged by numbers.

But I was trying to use the numbers to motivate me to do more.

Yes. And it is working. But give yourself time to settle into the new habits of thought, new daily structures. Trust me, I haven’t lost track of the things we learned during the retreat.

So…a busy week is not a sign that I’ll never be able to write.

It is not.

But all my weeks are busy. What if…

Stop playing what if. Just choose to write instead of choosing to watch a TV show. Choose to garden instead of choosing to read, because gardening lets the thoughts settle and percolate instead of feeding in new data. Sit and think instead of clicking through internet sites that you’ve already visited five times today. You can do this.

Okay. But are we really going to post this as a blog entry? Me talking to myself about writing? It makes me look a little bit crazy.

One of the purposes of the blog is to sort thoughts by writing them. You’re changing how you approach writing, so naturally that change needs to be processed. I had to write this first to clear space to write other things. Now that this is written, I can go write something else. Shall we do that now?


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  • All writers are a little bit crazy. It's okay. :)
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