Writing Until 4 a.m.

1 Jul
4 a.m.

Sometimes the hours slip away.

For a while, I was going through a bit of a writing slump, which was untimely because I was taking a 10-week flash fiction class at Grub Street where I was given prompts and expected to come to class each week with a new story. The class started off great: I was brimming with ideas of what to write, and some of my best pieces came about in those first few weeks. But by week six, I’d started to lag. We were expected not only to write ten stories over the 10-week course, but also to read and critique our classmates’ stories, adding up to about 12 stories/week.

For whatever reason, I think all the reading and critiquing sapped my energy and my creativity. I don’t know why it happened, but I do know that I wasn’t able to write flash or really anything creative at all for about four weeks. I felt panicked and guilty. I wondered why I couldn’t sit down and focus.

And then I got some excellent advice from a great writer and friend: 1) Cut back on the time and energy I was spending critiquing my classmates’ stories and  2) Keep focused on what was most important, which was revising the short story I would be bringing with me to Squaw.

When I skipped the last week of my class and began brainstorming ideas for my short story, something unexpected happened: I had ideas and energy and drive again. I could sit and write for hours without distraction. And it felt really good. Last night, I wrote from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. I revised and rewrote and then printed out what I wrote and made notes in the margins, crossed out words, sentences, paragraphs, added new ones in their place, then went back and made those changes. By the end of it, I was tired but giddy. I finished the first major rewrite of a story I first wrote eight months ago.  And I think this version is much improved from the last one. In other words, it’s ready for critique, and sometime after that, Major Rewrite #2.

It’s a small success, but I’ll take it.

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2 Responses to “Writing Until 4 a.m.”

  1. Tracy Staedter July 20, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    It’s all a balancing act. I learn much by reading and commenting on other manuscripts, but having too many can be overwhelming!

    • E.M. August 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Exactly. I also procrastinate on the reading and end up doing it last minute… :/

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Tracy Staedter

Science writing, editing and workshops

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