Please welcome our guest Leah DeCesare, the author of Forks, Knives, and Spoons and the nonfiction parenting series Naked Parenting, based on her work as a doula, early parenting educator, and mom of three. Leah’s articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, the International Doula and The Key, among others. In 2008, Leah co-founded the nonprofit Doulas of Rhode Island, and in 2013 she spearheaded the Campaign for Hope to build the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness in Uganda. In a past life, Leah worked in public relations and event planning. She now writes, teaches and volunteers in Rhode Island where she lives with her family and their talking cockatiel.
I have always earnestly sought details on how other authors write – their process – and have tried a lot of other people’s habits for myself. At last, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my way is equally as valid as other authors’ styles, it’s what works for me. My interest in the writing process, however, persists and I’m open to things I can adopt that could work for me, too.
How a Binge-Writing Getaway Can Boost Productivity
For years, I eagerly gathered all bits of advice from writers and was very focused on other writers’ processes. The how and the where they wrote, the how much and how long they wrote. I was searching for some road map, some how-to formula.
We hear from every angle, every conference, blog and crafting book that writers must write every day. We hear: Write in the morning before you do anything else, write X000 words a day, write X hours a day. Yet, that’s never worked for me.
This feels slightly like a confession: I don’t write every day. And while I’m at it, confession number two: I’m not a morning person. The idea of writing before my kids leave the house compares to swimming outside in a New England in February. (My apologies if you like either of those things. If you do, use this comparison instead: It compares to preparing your taxes. No one can say they like that! Certainly not among a group of word-folks like us.)
Admitting I don’t write daily felt like I was “doing it wrong,” but I have finally accepted that my process is different, not wrong. I love blocking out a few solid days, running away to my parents’ house while they’re traveling, packing a bag of salad and a few frozen meals from Trader Joe’s and logging out. This is my happy place, my great luxury and I’m grateful for the means and a supportive husband to allow me to do this a few times a year.
When I’m away, I can dive deep and I write for twelve to fifteen hours with short breaks for meals. By the second day I am waking up with ideas and dialogs, I’m solving problems that I’d been struggling with, and I’m living with my characters. I’m in the story. Being able to immerse myself makes me incredibly productive and carries over into my busier day-to-day life with kids and laundry. After these binge writing getaways, I return still living my story and it’s then easier to write for shorter bursts, but I’ve found I need the long, intense writing to fuel me even if I mimic that with several long days at the library or a coffee shop.
I’ve set out with January goals to write two hours a day or to just write every day. I’ve created word tracker tools and even sat my butt in a chair to write for days at a time. I’ve tackled writing before ever opening emails or a browser and I’ve built in mini-rewards for myself for writing, like training a dog. They’ve all worked here and there, or for short periods, and some I do make a part of my writing practice, but no matter what I’ve tried, I’ve never made writing everyday part of my schedule.
What works for me doesn’t have to work for anyone else. What works for someone else doesn’t have to work for me. There’s no wrong way as long as the writing gets done, because it is in fact true that writers must write. You just may not need to do it every day.
I know what gets me into flow and what hinders it, I know what motivates me and charges me up. While I still love gleaning tips and insights from my writing tribe, I’ve finally relaxed into the notion that my writing process is mine. I own it now.
Have you tried binge-writing, and if so, what is the effect on your process? Have a favorite escape you’d like to share?