Thursday, July 22, 2021

How I've Learned That Newton's Three Laws of Motion Perfectly Apply to Writing a Book During a Pandemic

 I (Donis)  actually went out to lunch with a friend last week (!) and we spent a great deal of time discussing how this pandemic has simply screwed up EVERYTHING. And I do mean everything. One of my husband’s doctors ordered a lithotripsy, a minor medical procedure, for him a couple of months ago, and husband dutifully got all the clearances from his primary doctor and his cardiologist, all the blood tests and x-rays ... forty days ago! We have not heard anything about when the procedure is supposed to happen. He called the doctor’s office a dozen times (I swear I am not making this up) and they never called back until he threatened to come down there and sit in the office until he got some answers. Which he did - and of course while he was gone, the nurse finally called our home number and I talked to her. Turns out the doctor is having trouble getting an OR scheduled for lithotripsy at any of the hospitals where he has privileges. Seems non-emergency procedures are so backed up at local hospitals because of the pandemic that it’s taking weeks and weeks to get anything scheduled. They could have at least kept us informed about what’s going on (grumble grumble). 

As for my pandemic-era writing, don’t even ask. There are days that I spend an hour starting at the screen and produce nothing. When that happens, it causes me great agony and despair that I can’t whip up the wherewithal to do what needs to be done. On such days I sit at my desk for an hour staring at a pad of paper, or at the computer with my fingers poised over the keyboard, and … nothing. It’s not even that I can’t think of anything to write. I am always writing in my head, and have done for as far back as I can remember.

I have author friends who have full time jobs and small children and broken arms and still manage to pound out two books a year. And one of the main tenets of writing that I propound when I teach a class is that it doesn’t matter whether you feel like it or not, you just do it. 

My writing regimen has become a perfect illustration of Newton’s three laws of motion.

Inertia: An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force. i.e. if you write every day, your momentum will keep you writing. If something happens to make you stop and you miss a day, or two, or however many, you tend to remain at rest and its very hard to get started again.

Force: The acceleration of an object depends on the mass of the object and the amount of force applied. i.e. the bigger your manuscript grows, the easier it is to write on it, at least for me. It’s like a snowball gaining speed as it goes downhill.

Action and Reaction: Whenever one object exerts a force on another object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite on the first. i.e. the harder you work on the MS, the faster it speeds toward completion, like firing up a jet engine to make the plane take off.

Right now I’m slowly gaining speed (Law 2) However, half an hour ago we found out that the lithotripsy is scheduled for Monday, and considering the state of my pandemic-era will power, I fear I’m about to be acted upon by an unbalanced force and fall back into a state of inertia.

1 comment:

Tanya said...

Donis, wishing you and your husband good health!

I also find that the stresses of the past year have reduced my powers of focus and concentration and slowed productivity. What seems to help is breaking work into small tasks (telling myself I'll edit one or more sections and then take a short break). Taking on an entire chapter or learning module never used to feel daunting and now, some days, it does. I think the underlying buzz of worry or anxiety steals some of our creative "juice" and ability to get that momentum going. Some say that meditation helps. I haven't been able to manage full-fledged meditation, but I've found that pausing and taking some deep breaths can offset agitation/distraction when I remember to do it.

Hang in there!