Gathering Moss 2


Confession time: I still haven’t written a word of fiction since finishing the third draft of my manuscript and sending it to a few people to get their impressions. I’m sure I could tell you exactly how many months it’s been, but I think that would just make me sad.

That’s not to say I haven’t done any writing. I’ve gone through most of my old chapters on a project I picked back up recently and updated them because I don’t feel like I can keep writing it without remembering all the work those early chapters need… Especially the ones that need complete rewrites. Man this is going to be a lot of work.

I wish I could say there’s a legitimate reason for this besides “laziness.” But even that doesn’t cut it. I’m easily distracted by shiny objects. Plus, I have a list of priorities. My health is right there at the top, followed by school, then work, and somewhere a little past that is writing, because writing doesn’t keep me alive or pay the bills.

Well here’s the issue with that chain of priorities: If I haven’t dealt with one at the top level, I have trouble justifying worrying about anything below it. It just so happens that I have to write three papers this week for school, and I’m feeling a bit hamstrung.

Deep down, I know the solution: I just need to have one crappy day of playing catch-up so I can leave room in my schedule to do other things that matter to me. But damn is that hard.

Back when I did the Write Chain Challenge, I was unapologetic about the time I needed to write. I had to do it. I needed my thirty minutes. Once, I even held up people trying to get ready for a wedding. Yeah, jerk move, but I offered to go to another room and they told me they could wait. That’s on them.

I started that challenge in the summer, when I had all the time in the world. But I continued it well into the Fall semester, right around this time of year, in fact. I brought my laptop to campus and sat down with a coffee to write, or edit, or whatever I was doing at the time. My papers were still being written, I was getting (most of) the reading done, and I got generally good grades that semester.

And I’m just sitting here now wondering why I can’t make it happen again.

That semester, I wrote several papers, and they got all A’s except for one B when I tried to experiment a little too much on some story analysis. It was all pretty effortless. I was confident in what I was writing, because I knew my own writing competence. On a somewhat meta level, I was also in a class that dealt with imparting writing confidence onto students so they can develop competence. That might have given me a little more motivation.

I also felt comfortable in calling myself a writer at the time, because I wrote literally every day.

Nowadays… I feel a bit like a fraud.

With those papers I’m trying to write this week, it should be easy if I just followed my normal process: Whip up a crappy first draft, sit on it for a day, then go back through the material to find things to quote and just get it polished up and wait for my A. Or maybe a high B, I don’t know, I don’t like to get my hopes up.

But because I haven’t been writing every day and I’ve lost that confidence, it’s hard to even get started.

I mentioned somewhere else that this blog helps keep my momentum in the writing department, even though I’ve pulled back to one post a week. I’ve also written about how writing breeds more writing. I think I need to bump that back up to two a week (which is what this post is an attempt at) and I need to start writing daily again.

But one thing I really hate doing is writing about what I plan to do, or what I should do. I feel like I write these kinds of things to give myself some level of accountability, but it almost always backfires. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what I’m doing here, but I’m also using this as a way to avoid writing my papers. Or maybe I’m using it to build up the momentum to start writing these papers.


Photo by nousnou iwasaki on Unsplash


About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.


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2 thoughts on “Gathering Moss

  • A.S. Akkalon

    I know what you mean about priorities. My priority recently has been surviving, and writing has taken a back seat.

    I don’t have any advice for you, but I know you can do it.

    • David Shank Post author

      Sometimes a high five and a “you got this!” is more important than any advice. So I appreciate the kind words, and I know if anyone’s equipped for survival, it’s you. 🙂