Instead of looking at non-writing days as non-productive days, I'm going to rename them as 'family days' or 'rest days'. Because those are pretty much the two reasons I struggle to get to the writing computer.
I suppose I should also have Internet-days then because I did turn up at my writing desk in the morning, groggy and ready to fall asleep, with D having woken up at 4 A.M., and despite all decisions made to the contrary, I checked my email and found an update from The Creative Penn.
Joanna Penn had interviewed a writer and entrepreneur, Amit Gupta, and they talked about Sudowrite (created by Gupta), which is a software that generates characters, plot twists, etc. for you. Gupta states these are to be used as elements to add to your story/work in progress.
I was quite excited to see that. I was wary of artificial intelligence at first, but Penn has a very optimistic take on it. She doesn't see AI as replacing writers but sees it as a tool that authors can use to work differently.
I'm slowly beginning to see things from her point of view, and I became quite excited about trying out Sudowrite. When I went to sign up for it, I was asked to enter a few details including a website or some other place where my writing samples are displayed.
Uh oh! My site was still a mess, and I had been sitting on bringing back the old posts that had disappeared but which KrA had managed to retrieve. So I put off signing up for sudowrite for the moment and headed over to Amit Gupta's website, which is minimalist. It only has a few links – one to a story of his that's up on Escape Pod, and another points to a video.
I first read his story and it was amazing! Then I went over to the YouTube video – he was making a presentation – and turns out he had been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 32, and he talked about his experience with chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Gupta's health struggles were never mentioned in the Penn interview, and I think I love Joanna Penn a little more for that.
So anyway, after spending about 20 minutes loitering about on the Internet thus, I just went back downstairs to the kitchen where D was playing. We all then went out grocery shopping, came back, and KrA took D out to play. I turned up at the park a half-hour later, having given up on being able to sit down and crunch out words – I just wanted to be with them. It's usually KrA and me taking turns to be with D, so except for mealtimes or when we go out, we three rarely get together. So I turned up to surprise D, but I was the one who ended up being surprised. They were flying a kite!
I suddenly wonder why I'm writing all this. Are these free-writing sessions to be mere reflections on the day gone by? Perhaps. Because that is what I seem to be writing here.
But there's one thing I've come to notice. I love posting here every evening. It's practically the last thing I do before dropping into bed. Like a mental purging of everything that has transpired during the day.
I expect nothing out of this exercise. Perhaps that is what makes it so enjoyable.
Time and again, long-term authors and creatives keep pointing to the merit of approaching our work not as work but as play, the way a child would. In a long-ago post, DWS quoted Jeff Tweedy (after a reader shared the quote in a comment) as saying that little children don't pause to wonder how their drawing has turned out. They make one, leave it behind, and move on to the next without pausing for any critical self-analysis of their work.
"Kids are creation machines, man. They just barrel forward. And that’s really the ideal state for anybody making something. Figure out what it is later. Just make it; keep pedalling forward. Kids don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on which drawings are on the refrigerator. They’re busy colouring the next one. I really think they pretty much have it all figured out.” ~ Jeff Tweedy
Such creatives keep urging others to do all they can to drop that critical voice and take this playful attitude towards our art.
Honestly, some days I can, and those are the days when I'm able to get the words down.
On other days, the critical voice takes over, getting to the manuscript becomes a chore, all the resolutions to not loiter on the Internet until 4 P.M. go out the window, and I'm back to the state of mind I've been trying hard to get out of. Resistance. Lack of faith in my own art.
So here's me looking forward to a day of writing and family time tomorrow. A day of devoting time and attention and effort to the two things that matter to me.