by Rob Lopresti
So we went on a week’s vacation and, as I wrote here, my plan was to spend as much time as possible writing. I have a full-time job and I am a slow writer, so this was a precious opportunity to get some time in on what Rex Stout once called the alphabet piano.
How’d I do? Well, that’s what I want to discuss, because it was pretty interesting. To me, anyway.
We arrived on Sunday. Monday morning my wife went off to her music class and I sat down in front of the laptop to work on a first draft. It went great, but after an hour my thinker was thunked out. I went for a trip around town, making sure that the pizzeria and ice cream shop had survived since my last trip to years ago. After lunch I decided I didn’t feel much like working on a first draft, so I switched to editing some paper print-outs I had brought with me. That took a big chunk of the afternoon. After dinner, even that held no appeal, so I switched to the grunt work of typing a handwritten text into the computer.
You see the pattern. Creative work in the morning. Editing later in the day. Copying in the evening. Less and less brain work as the day rolled on.
That seemed pretty reasonable, and I stuck to it in the main, throughout the week. But there were definitely some shifts.
My mornings got longer as the week went on. As I stretched the old mental muscles I found I could write first drafts for several hours without cramping up. And when we went for an afternoon concert one day I brought a notebook and scribbled on a draft.
By the end of the week when my wife started making dinner (it was her turn, and there was no room in that kitchen for two) I eagerly cranked up the laptop to squeeze in another half hour of first draft. That would have never happened at the beginning of the week.
So my habits changed—and improved—the longer I worked on them. The question is obvious.