Wednesday, April 26, 2023

From Fizzle to Sizzle

 Today's throwback post is from February 2022 and talks about something I'd almost forgotten I'd done. Although the results of many of the challenges are still hidden between the covers of the notebook I used, some of them have found their way into the novel I'm working on, and all of them sparked writing (no matter its use in the end) and reminded me of the value of putting pen to paper rather than simply fingertips to the keyboard.

Writing fizzles for a variety of reasons. Despite my best intentions and all sorts of schedules and plans, my weekday writing time has shriveled up once again. Part of this is due to a conscious decision to take on something new, which has led me to live in the space between "the freedom to explore and create...[and the need to] persist and finish," and part of it is due to the inevitable end-of-semester squeeze. 

And there's a third variable: a rejection I took hard, followed by the publication of a book so much like the one I was planning that I took some time to have a pity party. Last night, however, I took baby steps back into the project, beginning with ascertaining the uniqueness of what my book had to offer.

Has to offer. I'm not throwing in the towel yet. 

In a few weeks, my days will open up again as I teach one online class instead of three that are in-person. Much as I love my face-to-face time with my students, an online asynchronous class that goes where I go is the perfect fit for summer.

Look out, writing. I'm coming for you! Now that I mention it, maybe it's time to pull out that notebook and make some plans.

Yesterday marked six days into The Writer 28 Day Word Challenge I've been doing. The word was "fizzle" and that's exactly what my writing did.

But that's okay. One of my purposes in taking on this challenge was to write every day and, just a week into this project, I've been successful in that pursuit. One day, I barely made it in under the wire, but I made it.

Another goal was to shake things up -- to boost my creativity and come at my writing from a new angle. So, when the word "fizzle" conjured up nothing useful, I went a different way, using the word as an acrostic and brainstorming as many interesting words as I could to go with each letter. I may never use them for any specific purpose, but it was fun playing with language. 

This word challenge is part of a bigger picture. This year, I'm inviting creativity in. I still have projects with finite goals, but focusing on productivity and goal-oriented writing have left me stymied and in danger of losing all the joy that writing can bring. It was time to rediscover the love of the written word that made me want to write in the first place.

So I'm doing something new. I'm investigating sketchnoting, podcasting, and word-a-day challenges, including the craze du jour, Wordle. I'm creating graphics for my Facebook group page and wrapping my writing in broader pursuits, hoping that new approaches will feed the muse, who seems to have grown tired of the steady diet of closed loop tasks I keep giving her. 

Doing something new gives us the luxury of being more playful. Stepping out of our usual tasks and stepping back from our usual targets gives us the freedom to worry less about being perfectly productive. And ironically, if past experience is any indication, freeing ourselves of the need to be perfectly productive can, in the end, lead us to approach the same old tasks with a brand new energy.

As winter persists before tiptoeing slowly into spring, I want to bring in my own sunlight. To do this, I'll be on the lookout for new creative pursuits, or opportunities to involve myself in old ones, with the common denominator being the freedom to explore and create instead of persist and finish. I'm not giving up on my finite projects; I'm just making them a part of something bigger that I hope will nourish and sustain them -- and me. 

What new thing will you try in the gray days of winter?

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