Getting back into the swing after being out of it for so long

I've got everything lined up, now I just need to write the darn thing. (Photo by Dustin Lee)

I’ve got everything lined up, now I just need to write the darn thing. (Photo by Dustin Lee)

Whoa, where is this month going? Well, it’s going where all time goes, into the past—but does time really go anywhere? Or are we the ones going someplace while time just remains where it’s always been? And have I had enough coffee to be having these thoughts today? Oy, my head hurts. Moving on!

Where was I? Right, time. So, I’ve been doing a lot of freelancing work. In the past year and half, I’ve discovered that I really enjoy being a freelancer. Which is odd when I consider how much of a structure freak I am. I like my routine, my habit. It helps me keep on track and stay on top of my time, my day, my projects. On top of my life, such as it is.

That’s not to say it isn’t without its nerve-wracking aspects. It feels a lot of the time that you’re living by your wits—and occasionally at your wits’ end. Work can dry up for months, then suddenly there’s more work than you know what to do with, but you dare not turn any of it down because, well, see the aforementioned “work can dry up for months.”

But you have total freedom to structure and spend your time as you see fit. And in my case, at least, you no longer dread Mondays.

I’ve been in one of those “more work than you know what to do with” modes for the past couple months or so, which means that I haven’t been doing a lot of writing. That’s okay, to a certain extent: I was able to spend most of my summer working on writing projects of various kinds, like revising the novel that I wrote in grad school, finally finishing a story I started eighteen months ago (that part where they say stories are easier than novels? Lies), and starting several other stories and an essay. Shifting gears to graphic design and editing can help keep things from getting stale.

But now it’s time to make my way back into the work in progress (that would be the sequel to my YA novel The Unwanted, which you can still totally buy, by the way). And having stepped away from it for the past three months or so, getting back into it? Not so easy.

I’m a big fan of the list, as you may know. And one of the things on my list at the moment is that book, the title of which keeps changing. It started at the top of my list, and then creeps downward as other things get added and then I lose track of it, until I push it back to the top again.

At one of those points, when I looked at the item on my to-do list, it just said “Finish Unwanted Sequel,” which was a) a discouraging way to phrase it, and b) more than a little overwhelming. I realized then that my list item needed to be its own list.

So that’s what I did. That one to-do item is now its own list of ten things, from “review manuscript written to date” (done!) to “write remaining chapters” (which will be further expanded after I’ve delineated chapter breaks and outlined what needs to happen in each chapter). And now it suddenly seems less overwhelming. It’s still a big to-do, but it looks achievable.

So, what are you working on that seems overwhelming?

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