When Writing Isn’t Writing

I had some unexpected free time this past Friday, so I took my laptop and a huge pile of essays that I’ve workshopped with my thesis adviser Marshall over to La Colombe’s flagship location in my beautiful backyard, Fishtown. Perhaps, I thought, I’d get some writing done.

Here’s the funny thing about trying to write an essay collection, or anything really – sometimes the most important work has nothing to do with writing. I realized that I had TEN essays, all marked up and scribbled on, with notes and line edits and reorg suggestions and writing prompts, and the idea of tackling it all was overwhelming. So I did what I always do when I feel overwhelmed – I organized.

I spent three whole hours doing nothing but creating work plans for each and every piece. I wrote down all of Marshall’s suggestions, all of my notes, my concerns, little snippets of lines that I thought might work, page and line numbers of what had to come out, or sections that should go in a different essay. At the end, I had a carefully bulleted and numbered four-page document that will serve as my ever-changing road map.

Now, when I get some free time or a burst of creative energy, instead of looking at a pile of scribbled-on essays and feeling decidedly Sisyphean, I can refer to the work plan, and just GO. While technically, I got very little writing done this entire weekend, I’m ending it with a very satisfied and productive feeling.


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