Writer's moments

The Editor/Author Dilemma

I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s so hard for me write at the moment. It’s not that the books aren’t there. My brain is so full that frequently I have to stop whatever I’m doing, find a scrap of paper and a pencil, and make notes, or my head might explode. The stories are in me, churning and trying to find an outlet, even if it’s nothing more than a post-it and 10 minutes at the kitchen table in between lake laundry and tossing a salad for supper.

So why, when I sit down to actually write, can I not translate all these little chunks of paper covered with hastily scribbled bits of dialogue and description into a story? I’m not blank, I’m just…unable to put my hands on the keyboard and do it.

But I think I may have figured this out. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with work. The editing gigs have been coming in fast and furious. Now this is not a complaint, not in the slightest. I’m always happy for work. I enjoy editing and the best part is they’re paying me. Sometimes the work is easy and the read is pleasurable, while other times, it’s an arduous edit and I’m gnashing my teeth, but I’m glad for my wonderful job. Heck, the commute is the length of my upstairs hallway and I can work in my jammies at midnight if I’m inclined. Now, that’s a terrific job, n’est pas?

No, the problem is that I spend all day in front of a computer, editing other people’s work, so when I sit down in front of my computer to write, I simply can’t make my fingers do it. The world I’ve created in my head is present, the ideas swirl and buzz, but several minutes and lots of deep breathes later, I end up shutting down and just going to bed. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Mae and I did a little writers mini-retreat up at the lake. I didn’t work on any paying gigs. We wrote. Did some 1K/1H sprints and talked writing and stories and creativity for two whole days. (Okay, we may have also drunk some wine and margaritas, but we did write!)  I didn’t have a problem writing at all when that was my whole focus. But even writing a blog is hard at the moment, unless I’m doing it first thing in the morning, like now.

So therein may lie the answer to this little dilemma. Well, one answer anyway. I’ve always done my writing late at night–at the end of the day. I’m going to try committing to writing in the morning instead of waiting to do it after midnight. That may mean I’m working on the editing gigs later into the evening, but that’s not a big deal. I can do that easily.  So I can either get up earlier, like set my alarm for five a.m. and write for an hour before my household begins stirring, or I can come upstairs after breakfast and simply write for two hours before I begin working for the day. Either way, it’s worth a try, right?

I have books that need to be written. I have readers—fans (I can’t believe I’m using that word about me!!)—who are asking where my next book is. Well, at this point in time, the symphony conductor’s story is with my agent, the wonderful Maureen Walters at Curtis Brown Ltd. She’s sending it out to publishers now and I’m fidgeting waiting for a response. Send good energy toward that, won’t you please? The romantic suspense is nearly finished—about four chapters from being done. The widow’s tale is written but needs to be revised, and the time travel story is brewing in the back of my head. I’m going to cast it and see if sister PJ will let me come to her craft room and do a collage…after I get back from meeting the glorious grandson.

You guys had to know I’d find a way to fit my darling little jumping bean into any post, and here’s the latest picture of him, looking quite alert and thoughtful. Maybe I should discuss this whole dilemma with him. He looks like he’d have some brilliant answers for me!


  • robena grant

    Oh, I think Jumping Bean is concurring…you must try to write early in the day. I’m sure that’s why your fingers hover above the keyboard. The thoughts that flowed freely during the day have become frozen due to exhaustion.

    When you get home from the trip to visit your grandson you might be fired up. Sometimes when I travel I lose momentum, but if it’s early in the story I have more time to think and plan, and then I can’t wait to get back to the keyboard.

  • Shannyn Schroeder

    Hi Nan, I feel your pain. This is part of why I quit working as an editor for a couple of e-pubs. First, there wasn’t a whole lot of money in it, but mostly, sometimes I’d get a story that needed so much work, it took away from my own writing.

    I’m still editing, a regular part-time gig for an education company, but since it’s nonfiction, my creative brain is free to write. (which is a good thing since I’m now under deadline)

  • Susanne

    Good luck with shifting your writing time. A similar thing happened to me. Years ago it was night time writing, then it shifted to early morning, and now it’s right after work.

    Sending good vibes your way while your book finds its home 🙂


    • Nan

      Thanks Susanne, I’ve always written at night, but I’m thinking this has to change. We’ll try it and see what happens. Appreciate the good vibes!!

      Shannyn, Thanks for the empathy! I edit nonfiction and fiction both and usually it hasn’t been an issue. I think this is a matter of too much work at one time that leaves me fried by the end of the day.

      Hi Roben!! The bean is wise beyond his years, er, days, isn’t he? The early morning writing will no doubt be a better way to go. I’m fairly sure I’ll be fired up when I get home from meeting the little guy. I’m even prepared to write while I’m there if the muse and opportunity present. Thanks for stopping by!