Friday, December 28, 2007

The difficulty of working on two scenes in one day

For the time I put in this morning, I was productive--around 1,500 words of new material that is powerful and interesting. I just wish that I could sustain the effort longer than about 90 minutes.

The amount of time isn't the only factor in what makes me stop eventually. Another factor is the emotional trajectory of the scene I'm working on. In general, if I work up to a climactic moment and finish a scene, it's hard to get started again on another scene. To do that work, I typically slip into a reverie where time passes without my noticing it and the scene I'm writing is very vivid in my mind as if I'm daydreaming it.

Usually when I write the last words of the scene I snap out of that reverie and at that point thinking critically about what needs to happen next and then getting the creative juices flowing both seem like impossible tasks. Sometimes I'm able to stretch my legs pouring another cup of coffee and get started again but usually I tell myself to be proud of my work so far and call it a day, which is what happened this morning.

So if my starting point for the day happened to be 90 minutes of work away from finishing the scene--as it was today--90 minutes of work is all that I end up putting in. It could be more or less, though usually not more than two-and-a-half hours.

All of this discussion is about new work. Sometimes when the energy is low I'm able to work on things that require less energy like some line editing or reading over stuff that has only been drafted without being read again or making notes about what else I need to do. Not today, though. I'm done.

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