It's been almost a year now of being cooped with with rewrites. Nothing but The Book. And I have to say my checklists have gotten me through this more than anything. I'm a meticulous planner. I schedule my days to the point of compulsion. A bit from today's list: walk June, Naomi + Marce goodbye, 2 job apps, update website, blog post, YP fam friendly dining, walk June, walk June.
I've always been a schedule kid. I still get upset, to this day, if my routine is disturbed (a response I'm trying to mediate with equal parts "spontaneous fun" and "chill the fuck out"). I feel comfortable when I know what is coming up and how I'll spend my time. And I find, most of all, that it can be soothing to look back at the end of a week and know that I'm one step closer to being a better writer.
A couple years ago, I was wracked with anxiety about wasting my time, worried that I would never improve on my craft. I was tortured by every hour I spent without my notebook or computer. I was seeing a psychologist, a really thoughtful young woman, who noted that I appeared to be "spinning my wheels." She suggested it might do me some good to track what I actually did in a day. At the time I was working a corporate gig three days a week and nannying two days a week, constantly scrambling for spare hours to fix a story or rearrange a poem. To scribble out lists of nouns and verbs. I was using my planner, to fill out appointments and log work hours, but not really to track my writing. So, at my psychologists gentle suggestion, I started filling out detailed time sheets of what I did in a day. And every week we would review these lists. I was surprised to see how many actual hours I'd dedicated to writing. They were substantial blocks.
Today, I can worry about The Book, about time, the process, whatever, but I can always look back to last week and see that I've taken a tiny step forward. Sometimes I stay still for days or weeks. Sometimes I get stuck on the same 1,000 words, reworking them over and over. Sometimes I feel helpless. But eventually, I move forward. Today I'm grateful for agendas, for scheduling and compulsion. For seclusion and quiet and moving just as slow as I need to.