I ended last month’s creative review by wondering if it might be time for a reset. I knew I had to figure out some stuff with how I manage my time, and I had to figure out what I was going to do about Violet Lane. From a technical standpoint, I was happy with the photos I’d been taking, but from a creative standpoint, I was getting bored.
I must have forgotten about all that as soon as I wrote it, because when I sat down to write today’s review, I was sure that this funk I’m in has only been a couple of weeks. Not a couple of months.
I’ll start with the good news, because there is good news. I’ve figured out what I’m doing with Violet Lane.
I’m starting from scratch: I’m getting rid of the story as written, I’m changing the characters’ names, everything. (I don’t even know if it’s called ‘Violet Lane’ anymore, because I don’t think that part’s relevant anymore.) And I feel fantastic about this decision.
Back in 2016, when I first started putting together the outline for this story, it was a last-ditch effort to get back into writing, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. So I took every vague story idea I’d been turning over for the past three years, and combined them into one story, just in case I came out of that year’s NaNoWriMo knowing that I really was done with writing—at least the ideas would be out of my head.
It kind of worked. Almost. But I’ve never really been able to make all the pieces fit together as smoothly as I’d like, and I’m realizing that that’s because they’re not all part of the same story. It’s taken me three years to figure out what this story is. So I’ve been working on a new outline, developing new versions of all the characters, and it’s almost done. (I had hoped that I’d have a new first act written by the end of August, but that’s not going to happen. Middle of September?) I love the new version; it’s so much closer to my original vision for this story, and it’s more in line with the kind of writing I want to do in general. I can’t wait to get started on the actual writing part.
I’m also still moving forward with the Big Scary Project. The next steps are kind of boring, so I’ve been dragging my feet a bit, but progress is still being made. It’s just slow.
Oh! And I finally started working on the muslin for the dress I’ve been wanting to make for ages. I’ve only just started, and it’s taking more time than I’d hoped (it’s been years since I’ve worked on a sewing project this complex, so I’ve got to re-learn a couple of things, but that’s why I’m not just jumping straight to a wearable version), but I’ve started, and I’m incredibly excited to get to the fun part. (And to get to the part where I don’t have to spread fabric and pattern pieces out everywhere, because the cat has discovered that if she builds up enough speed before she hits the fabric, she can send the whole thing sliding across the room. The fabric’s an annoyance, but I’m really worried she’s going to shred the tissue paper.)
That’s the good. Then there’s… everything else.
I keep reminding myself that my motivation always drops in the summer (I was going through something very similar at this exact time last year) and it’s not the end of the world, but the last few weeks have seemed particularly bad. I’ve been doing the work, checking things off the to-do list, but that’s all it really is—checking things off the to-do list, then letting myself get distracted by internet rabbit holes.
On the bright side, I have been taking steps to pull myself out of it. I’ve started tracking my time again, and that’s giving me some clues as to what I actually do with my day—and, as usual, I’m not wasting as much time as I think I am. I’ve blocked the websites that lead to endless, mindless scrolling (at least temporarily—long enough to break the habit), and set up time limits for the ones that I can’t eliminate entirely.
I’m trying to come up with ways to branch out in my photography and my writing, because—Big Scary Project aside—I’m honestly not pushing myself hard enough in either of those areas right now. I’m bored with the photos I’m taking. I love the stories I’m working on, and they’re in line with my goals as a writer, but it’s been ages since I wrote a first draft of anything, and I miss that part of the process. (And the more I clarify what my goals as a writer actually are, the more I realize that stories like Violet Lane and The Black Sun—and, to a lesser extent, These Modern Things—do fit within that mandate, they’re only a small part of it, and they won’t exercise all the skills I need to build the career I want.) But branching out without a clear direction isn’t easy; every time I think of something I could be doing, I find a reason not to do it. Comfort zones are comfortable for a reason.
I’m not sure where this leaves me. I obviously need to pull myself out of this rut, but I’m struggling with the how. (I’m resisting the urge to blow all my savings on a plane ticket. That’s how I handled the 2015 version of this little crisis—yes, it’s that predictable—and it was 100% worth it, but I’d like to build up my travel fund a bit more before I dip into it.)
It might be time for another reboot.