Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | April 18, 2012

Check-in April 18 Letting Thoughts Gel

The past few months have been interesting for me, not only because of all the change in my life, but due to my reading blogs a lot since joining the ROW. I have followed several medieval studies blogs for a long time, but find that I am reading them more these past few months as well.  

I’ve mentioned on earlier check-ins the academic writing groups in which I’ve participated, as an accountability check for the academic writing I’m doing. What I am noticing now is the confluence between the two groups and the applicability of what I am learning in each venue for the work in the other venue. In the academic group, we have been talking a lot about starting to write, how to organize, how to finish by wrapping things up without taking away all the threads that lead to future research. 

During this round, the harmonic resonance between the two groups is nearly mystical. Last week, the group explored how we start. When I start an academic article, I face the same blank screen that I do when writing my historical fiction. I realized with a shock that I do the same things to start. I read, I scribble, I doodle. I put a clean sheet of paper on my drafting board, take my fountain pen, and start. I let it sit for a while, then I draw all over it—asterisks to show where things move from and to, line through whole paragraphs, add in whole paragraphs with arrows pointing to the back of the sheet where my new writing lies.

But most importantly, I think about it, nearly constantly, at a level of dim white noise. I think for days, often, with the academic work; for weeks, and sometimes, years, for the creative work.  Where am I heading with this? Heck if I know, but I suppose I’m finally learning that it’s okay; this is my process.

How did I do these past several days? Not perfect, but not bad. I nudged my test mile slightly higher, but not always to 300 words, especially if I count all the words I excised. 

What have I learned: Honor the process. After reading about how I “should” (see my earlier check-in about “should”) be able to write a couple of books a year, after seeing (and applauding) fellow ROWers’ books come out, after letting myself feel bad about my pace, my ideas, my interests, I have FINALLY learned that it is really okay.

I’ve learned that there are some incredible writers out there who are writing thought-provoking, interesting blogs. When I first joined the ROW last summer, I thought I would never be able to come up with blog posts; now I realize that just responding to some of the posts I have read would carry me through a year of daily posts. I am far more limited by time than by topics. Thank you all!

Also, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that, to a degree, writing is writing. Working on an academic article keeps words flowing through the consciousness, and lets me feel their weight and size, even if the fiction mosaic is very different.

Check out the other ROWers in this great community here.

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Responses

  1. So good to hear you in such a positive place!! LOL at your 3 links. I just had to stop by once I saw that 😀 I always wonder how some of us are so productive when I feel like I’m dragging myself around all the time. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is just too much weighing on me at the moment to be that productive. I’ll get back there, but it’s just not possible right now. Good luck getting comfortable with embracing it and hope you have a great rest of the week!

    • Thanks, Lauren. Hmm, the three links–goodness, what the heck was my problem? I have the same reaction to the incredibly productive people, but like you, I realized that everyone is in a different place, and that is totally okay! You will get your bearings, I’m sure, and then watch you go! Take care of yourself, and have a wonderful rest of the week!

  2. Love your learning curve and what a widened curve it is? Good for you Elizabeth. Its one we could all learn from. X

  3. “Honor the process” Love that. It is important to do what works for yourself, not for everyone else. I think everyone is a bit different. It’s hard sometimes not to compare ourselves to the other writers. It when I do that I get in trouble with myself. I have discovered ways to tweak the process but still in the end, it’s what works for me. Glad to hear its all working out for you.

  4. I think witnessing the process is part of why I’m enjoying the ROW80 challenge so much. it is beginning to feel more and more comfortable, seeing how each one of us works at different levels in this to accept my own way of doing things as fine and dandy. So glad that is the same for you.

    What happened with the three links? WordPress glitch?

    Would you be interested in sharing some of your favorite medievalist blogs? *big wide puppy eyes*

    By the way… I loved the visual for your process. So very artistic!


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