I've been grappling with a dilemma for the past couple of weeks. It's a dilemma that all writers deal with--what project do I work on.
I'm currently working on my memoir. I've completed the crappy first draft and now I'm undertaking research and developing storylines and structure. It's the book that I've been wanting to write all my life and I'm still so committed and exited about it, however I'm finding that I need an injection of inspiration that this project currently can't give me.
I feel like working on something new and fresh. Something that's going to get my brain working. But is this a smart thing to do? After all this year I'm working full time and have much less writing time than before. Wouldn't it be better to just keep working on the memoir and chipping away it. Just push through the block of dread that I sometimes feel about it and just go for it?
I put my muse to the test. I spent a day developing the plot for a new novel. I felt such an injection of inspiration and joy that the next day I wrote 3000 words toward my memoir, but then I started second-guessing myself. Maybe I should just type up those notes and leave them aside? I should use these last few days of my school holidays to work on my memoir.
Except I didn't. I just don't feel like it. Trying to force myself to write it I would open the file and just stare at the words. I felt nothing coming at me, except a vague feeling of depression. In need of escape I went to the cinema and watched a movie. As I was walking to the carpark it became crystal clear. I need to please my muse and this means pleasing both of them. By working on two projects at the same time I would be creating a new energy that would motivate me in both directions.
But the question is how do you know the difference between procrastination and pleasing your muse? After all it's so easy to start something new when what you're working on becomes stale. In fact you could just keep starting new things and never finish anything, a fear I have grappled with for a long time.
I don't know how you know the difference. That's something you have to learn for yourself. I just know from experience this is what works for me. Last year was my most productive year ever. I wrote more in the one year than I had probably in the three years preceding it and that's because I stopped trying to be logical, and instead became intuitive. My muse is a chorus. She needs a few strings going on at the same time to feel happy and be stimulated. As each string is being plucked, she produces better music. So that's what I'm going to be doing. Even though it might not be the logical thing to do because of my commitments, it's the right thing for me.
So the movie that inspired my epiphany is The Other Woman in cinemas at the moment. Such a funny yet heartfelt movie celebrating female friendship and self fulfillment, themes that we don't often see on the screen.
Really enjoyed watching it and highly recommend it for a fun day (or night) out.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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