It’s not that I have a million things that need doing this month, but the items on my to-do list feel so big and insurmountable that it feels like there’s an army of to-do soldiers charging at me. (Something akin to Mulan facing down the Hun army on the mountain.)
First step to dealing with stress:
The space around you is your first line of defense. Armor up.
The first thing I do when I’m getting ready
for battle to write is clean up my space. Doing this on the front side minimizes the occurrence of “Well, I can’t think of what to write next, but look, that pile of papers could use a sort-through, that’s very doable.”
It also makes me feel more prepared. Exercising control over my environment makes me feel more in control of myself. Which is a good feeling to have when sitting down to write IMHO.
Desk clean, I get into it.
Current battle: the dreaded synopsis
Now there are those of you out there who love writing synopses.
You’re all freaks. That’s fine, but it isn’t my thing. Especially when I have to write a 2-5 synopsis for a story I haven’t outlined yet.
This is the to-do item that has taken on Godzilla-like proportions, and of course it’s making a feast of my fear. Thing is, I’ve never written a synopsis before. And whenever I approach something I’ve never done before, there’s the possibility hanging over me that I won’t be good at it. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to the point in the last few years that I acknowledge I’m scared but do it anyway. In this case, the only thing getting my butt in the chair is the fact that I have to do this.
(Which was the main appeal of doing an MFA, not gonna lie. I need the damp breath of a drill sergeant on the back of my neck to get me to do things I don’t want to do–like write 25 pages a month and figure out a synopsis for a story I haven’t planned out yet.)
The Battle Plan
Obviously, I’m a list person. So when I’m panicking about getting stuff done, I make a to-do list. Only this time, that wasn’t enough. I needed a comprehensive approach to exactly how I was going to tackle this Godzilla problem.
Fortunately, I know that when I’m stuck like this, the thing to do is bring in outside help. So I’ve recruited one of the girls I work with, who has no previous knowledge of my story, to sit down with me next week and help me brainstorm the rest of this novel. A fresh pair of eyes is just what this novel needs.
My goal is to make a first attempt at it myself by this Saturday. And then work with my friend next week to see what we can come up with.
And of course, this isn’t the only major thing I have to do this month. I have to write 25 new pages (versus my critique partners, who are working on revising their first 50 pages). I have to read a craft book (Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig) and write a 700-word response to it. And write a 700-word self assessment. The 700-word responses induce only nominal stress. The 25 new pages and the 2-5 page synopsis are the things that get me.
That’s just for my writing course. I also have to read two novels this month and write essays for each for my reading course.
Until next week!
Currently playing: Side Effects (feat. Emily Warren) by The Chainsmokers
Currently reading: The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch