Monday Morning Blues

Mondays are always the hardest writing day for me, mainly because I’ve learned over the years to treat myself like a worker who goes to an office. Starting on Friday nights I try to give my writing brain a rest. Although this doesn’t always work and I have a notebook with me at all times, on Saturday and Sunday, I tend to channel my creative impulses into sketching, museum visits, gardening, cooking, knitting, attending theater or dance appearances.  These all feed my writing even though I’m not accumulating pages. On the business side of my job (and yes, writers need to be good business people too), I don’t open royalty statements or emailed appearance requests or fan mails during the weekends.

I do read and edit manuscripts by friends. I still get up early and sit in my favorite spot where I do poetry exercises. I watch a movie that helps me understand a setting or read a book that’s related to my current project.  But in general, I don’t open up the file I closed on Friday night until Monday morning.

I know there are writers who tap away on a project no matter the day of the week.  I used to do that, when I needed to use every minute I wasn’t working at my day job to finish a manuscript or when I was a young mother and scribbled away weekends in coffee shops when I could get a sitter.  In those days, I was fierce about piling up pages and proud of it.

But times have changed. I’m an older, more experienced writer which simply means I’m smarter about my own process. I find now that although I write for shorter periods of time, I’m more efficient. In a novel, I know pretty quickly when my character has gone off the tracks.  There’s no way she’d be hanging out in that bar or buying a motorcycle.  Or in the personal history piece I’m working on now, when I can’t move the scene forward, it means I need to do more research.  For example, what did the Gibraltar docks look like in 1940?  That’s the only way I can understand what my mother must have seen and smelled and heard when she was boarding the evacuation ship that took her to London.

For years, I’ve relied on Hemingway’s old trick.  Never stop at the end of a chapter or even a paragraph.  On Friday nights, I stop in the middle of a sentence.

But Monday mornings are still hard.  If I can’t get the scene moving or the character talking, these days,  I stretch my writing muscles another way.

I write a blog entry.