Geetanjali Mukherjee

Monday, September 23, 2013

Regaining Momentum on a Creative Project

I'm getting quite close to the wire on a long-term creative project that has already had several delays, and for which I set a deadline of November for it to be completed in its entirety. Last month I was finally starting to make good progress, and the last few days of August my fingers were flying on the keyboard as I started to pile up the word counts.


And then I had a family emergency and had to travel to India. It was a stressful time, and there was a lot to be done, and work on my project halted completely. Understandably, many people would say. And yet it’s been more than 10 days since I have been back, and attempting to pick up the thread on my project. And my momentum has been shot to h*ll.
I can't for the life of me get back to the pace I was working at before I left, and I can't even summon up the same level of motivation I had on the project as before. I know intellectually that I still need to meet the deadline, and need to work even harder than before to make up the time shortfall. And yet, I'm dragging my feet as it were, and languidly typing a few sentences at a time.
Usually I read books on writing when this happens, but advice on starting a project and doing a little everyday isn’t helping, since I am doing a little everyday; it just happens to be not enough. Writing teacher Julia Cameron has said that “writing rights things”, and in this instance, not writing is making me grumpy, I'm finding faults with every aspect of my life. Or these faults were there, but when I was writing, they weren’t so visible to me. Hmm…so the solution is to write more, but that is also the problem.
I tried taking a break – I took a day off to read a book, and generally chill. The next day I got more done, but not nearly enough, and the day after that, the lack of energy is back. I don’t really have any other tricks up my sleeve – other than the old favourite – powering through. I will keep sitting down at my computer, until the pace picks up and I start to fall in love with the material again. I’ve read enough interviews of writers to know that this happens to many people, and they get through it, and I will too. Its just that now I know this intellectually, but in my heart I still have this gnawing feeling: “What if I can't finish this book on time? Should I just give up now? Maybe I don’t really need to write this book.” These feelings are scary – and my instinct is to tamp down on them and ignore them. But I know from experience, not acknowledging feelings just encourages them to grow, so here I am doing the opposite – and strangely I feel a bit better already. Its like when the sun comes up, the monsters that freaked you out the night before feel like silly shadows that disappear in the sun’s rays.
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