Thursday, May 2, 2013, shortly after midnight, I flaked out. I didn't just flake out, I had an epic-level conniption fit. By conniption fit, I mean the type that is best reserved for quiet places without public observation. It is a good thing that my version of flaking out doesn't involve a frying pan to the source of my frustrations, but rather a venting of pent-up creativity that was ready to erupt.
Sometimes, it is OK to be a flake. I've talked a lot about my writing method. Those of you who are familiar with me know that I work a busy schedule that is rigid and orderly. I'm disciplined, as this is what is necessary for me to get my work done without failing myself and my clients. (And we saw how much good this did for me and Zero recently.)
Now I'm going to talk about the reverse, and why it is OK to just let loose and unwind every now and then.
Thursday, in the wee hours of the night, an urge overtook me. It put me over its knee and gave me a royal spanking. It whacked me so hard I think I swallowed my eyeballs. I wanted to read a novel I hadn't written yet.
I really wanted to read a novel I hadn't written yet.
This happens to me often enough, but rarely with this much force.
I really did try asking a few people to talk me out of this. Really, I did. It didn't work. One of them tried reverse psychology on me, telling me that I should totally do this. That I should spend the next few days desperately writing out as much of this novel as I could.
All I could think about was this pesky little novel. I made a point of tagging my clients in a google+ post ruminating about this idea.
Some help they were. I think they liked the idea of escaping my notes for a few days. Like a child who thinks they're about to get in trouble when they aren't, I was pat on the head, sent on my way, and told to go have some fun.
I wanted to finish it by Monday, but I underestimated the slowness of my writing by hand versus typing on a keyboard. By Monday, I expect at least a quarter of this novel to be finished, if not half of it. Once transcribed, I already have over 12,000 words. (I am keeping track of how much I'm excluding as I draft up the story and calculating the amount of words I'll add in when I transcribe.) I think I need to change my estimated transcription count again because I keep adding notes for things I need to add when I transcribe.
This is guilt-free writing. I don't have to worry about deadlines. I have a set amount of time I can work on this before I have to set it aside for working on The Eye of God and my client's novels. But, partway through the second day of this flaking out, I already feel mentally and emotionally refreshed. It's a challenge, and I'm writing for me. No one else. I've showed photographs of the story to a few people who wanted to read it. I think the shock that I could write something that classifies as mindless, terrible drivel has shocked them into silence.
Poor suckers thought they were getting quality work.
I've no care for plot or anything like that. First thing to pop into my head is what I write down. It's a mess, and it is a glorious mess. When I'm finished The Eye of God and I've settled down to begin edit work on Storm without End, I will continue working on this story. Every few weeks, I will let that need to read a book I haven't written yet take over. I will let it consume me, and I'll retreat to the wilds.
I'll let myself have fun, let loose, and forget about these pesky concepts of ‘quality' and ‘marketability'. I'm going to just write.
Discipline is good. Discipline is necessary.
Sometimes, however, letting go and flaking out is important too. It's like a bird molting, shedding off its old feathers, and growing in new ones. Sure, it's ugly as hell when it is happening, but when it's done, the bird is pretty again, healthy again, and ready to fly.
Just don't be a flake all of the time.