I'm currently at the very begining of a new story. So far, I've written five so-so pages. I haven't totally connected yet. I'm not in the zone. It's not coming easily so I allowed myself to be distracted by a new story idea and blamed a heavy work (day job) week on my lack of productivity. I have the next three days off. I need to dig in. I need to haul butt. And I will. ("I will," she said, shaking a defiant fist at the doubt gremlins.) I may not be particularly inspired just now, but I am motivated. This is a contracted book. I promised to deliver. Enough said.
This morning, I instantly pegged why I'm dragging my feet. It's because I feel rusty. I've been working on revisions for the last four weeks. Three weeks on a manuscipt One week on a synopsis. Yes, I was writing, but, for me, revising a completed work is not the same as creating a story from scratch. I haven't flexed those particular creative muscles in one month. I'm out of practice. Out of shape. Rusty. Getting this story off of the ground, getting back into a productive routine, is going to be a struggle.
Well, crud. That's not fun. How much easier it would be to keep researching that new story idea or allowing the day job to get in the way. Except for that pesky contract. And, oh yeah, my dream career. Writing.
This 'rusty' epiphany comes on the heels of a brush with my old dream career. Singing. I performed last night, my first singing gig since July. The first set was rough physically. Not on my body, but my voice. I guess singing in my car on the thirty-minute drive to the gig wasn't sufficient warm-up after not working that particular muscle for almost three months. Heh.
My limitations were apparent on the first song. I had no range. Anytime I tried to reach, I choked. Literally. What should have been a cake gig was now a challenge. Not only because it taxed my voice, but because it tapped my insecurities. I wasn't in peak condition. I was not going to sound my best. I was going to disappoint the audience, my band, and, because I am my own worst critic, myself. All of these thoughts went through my head in the first three minutes of this gig. I had 237 minutes to go. (Kind of like the first three pages of a 300 page book, no?)
Thing was, this was a contracted gig. I couldn't pack up and go home just because I had rusty chops. I had no one to blame, but myself. I wouldn't be so rusty if I sang, even if only in the shower, every day. But I didn't. Fact: I had to make it to to the end of the gig. I was out of shape. This was going to be a struggle. Not fun. Crud.
Iggy, my keyboardist, sang the next song, and within those four minutes I devised a solution. Note to self: Don't go for the high notes until you're more warmed up. Sing within a comfotable range until you hit 'the zone'. You don't have to dazzle right off the bat. Consider this a rehearsal. No one's paying attention anyway. They're either eating dinner or watching the baseball game on those TV's over the bar. Don't expect perfection. Relax, focus, and keep going.
The second set came easier. The third and fourth sets whizzed by. I wasn't in peak condition by the end of the night, but I wasn't rusty either. I had more range, more confidence. And because I worked within my immediate limitations, I didn't sound half bad. I made it to the end and no one pelted me with insults or drink garnishes. Success.
This morning I can't help but comparing last night's gig to my current story. My writing chops are rusty. Note to self: Don't strive for perfection. You don't have to dazzle right off the bat. Consider this a rehearsal. No one's paying attention anyway. Your editor's editing other stories. Your audience is reading other books. Relax, focus, and keep going.
Of course, that signed contract will keep me motivated, but what if I didn't have that professional deadline? Well then, I guess I'd rely on my dream for motivation. Though I may feel rusty now, if I keep at it, I'll soon be loose and in the zone. Less struggle, more fun.
On that note, I'm off to flex my creative muscles. Note to self: Relax, focus, and keep going.