I just hit forty-five thousand words on a manuscript I started less than a month ago. I was so excited I treated myself to half a pound of homemade applesauce and then immediately started writing about how good writing feels today. Here is why: because writing is STRANGE.
Just ninety days ago, I was moaning in front of my computer, wondering if I’d ever have a good idea again. I was throwing index cards full of plot ideas into the trash like good ideas would somehow emerge if I kept destroying all the bad ones. I was seriously considering ending my career as a writer and taking up something in cake decorating instead. Which is not a good idea at all because I actually hate decorating cakes. (I was probably watching too much Food Network. If there is such a thing.)
Then, one day, something switched. It actually felt like someone flipped a switch somewhere inside me. It happened while I was staying in a hotel with my husband, who was on a business trip. I was riding an exercise bike, and I had an idea for a book, as you do. I got off the bike, went upstairs, and sat in the bathtub with a notebook, as you do. I wrote page after page, stopping to wipe off the ones that were smearing as I splashed them with water—again, as you do.
I grabbed my laptop and started typing. And since then, I have been writing more words per week than I probably wrote the entire month before I climbed on that exercise bike.
Like I said before, writing is STRANGE.
I’m trying to ride this wave of creative glory as long as possible. But like any decent wave, I know it won’t last forever. It will hit the shore eventually, as I will with it. Thus will commence weeks or months of self-doubt and growling at keyboards and probably plenty of rejections of this very same manuscript I so desperately love right now. I suppose that’s all likely the metaphorical equivalent of paddling back out and waiting for the next wave. (I’ve never surfed, by the way. All I have to go on here is lots of observation I did while camping out of the back of a van in California, so hopefully this isn’t the worse metaphor ever written in recorded history.)
There are people who claim to have solved all the secrets of creative writing. Write every day. Write this exact number of words for this exact number of hours every day. Have a black cat circle your chair three times before turning on the computer every fifth Sunday. But we all know that no matter how many rules you follow, no matter how many writing practices you adopt—and we all have various practices that help us with our writing productivity, there is no doubt of that—muses come when they come and go when they go.
I’m going to ride this wave for as long as I can. And when I hit that metaphorical beach again and have to begin the task of paddling back out across difficult water, I want to remember how good this particular wave was. I want to remember how incredibly powerful and content I feel right now. How limitless the world can feel sometimes.