Confession of a POWER Writing Consultant (By Margarita Huerta, P.O.W.E.R. Consultant)

Confession of a POWER Writing Consultant

By Margarita Huerta, P.O.W.E.R. Consultant

 

As a POWER Writing Consultant (and the current Graduate Assistant for the POWER Writing initiative), I am supposed to be an example of the POWER Writing model – writing every day, writing consistently, writing productively. After all, I’ve taken the writing class, attended a dozen writing studios, and have recently coached someone on how to be a more productive writer.
 

I have not written in 19 days.

 

I have not told anyone I haven’t written in 19 days (until today).

 

As I sit and ponder how I got into this slump, I come up with several “reasons”, all of which seem pretty valid. One, I was sick for a month. Two, I have had an erratic schedule involving travel and long interviews. Three, I completed my big writing project: I turned in my “final” dissertation draft. A combination of physical and emotional strain with a dash of low motivation has “caused” me to stop dead in my tracks.

 

I look back longingly on my first days as a converted POWER writer – getting up early to write at the same time every day, logging my writing time, sharing my log proudly with a fellow POWER writer each week, and seeing the fruits of my labor produce pages and pages of writing. I was productive, I was strong, I was moving forward! As of yesterday, 19 days have passed and I have nothing to show for it.

 

Perhaps this is a phase we all go through? I am not sure if anyone else has experienced this “phase” but I am confessing it for two reasons: one reason is, ironically, as a way to get me out of this slump. The second reason is that I want to get an important message out: 

 

We sometimes fall out of the writing habit/productivity, but it does not mean we can’t get back on track.

 

As a fellow POWER writer told me one time, “You can always renew yourself – you may be out of the writing habit for 1 week, 6 months, or 3 years, but the important thing is that you renew yourself.” For me it took 19 days. Maybe, relatively speaking, that’s not too bad.

 

Here are some lessons I learned from my slump, which might help you with yours. While we cannot control physical, emotional, or motivational limitations that are certain to come our way, we can find ways to overcome them by keeping some disciplined principles in place:

 

1. Make sure your writing habit is STRONG and stays strong.
If your writing habit is strong, when trials come (e.g., sickness, erratic schedules), you are less likely to get into a slump.

 

Thinking back, my writing habit was not very strong in terms of consistency and accountability prior to getting sick.

 

I was not writing consistently and my writing accountability had disappeared (that is, I was not sharing the writing log I keep to track my own writing with anyone).

 

2. Make sure you have accountability in place.
As I said above, having a writing accountability partner with whom you simply share your writing productivity (like sharing a writing log) can do wonders to overcome emotional/motivational barriers.

 

Even better, in addition to having a writing accountability partner, have a writing community. At least I had that. I honestly don’t think I’d be getting out of this slump so quickly without the POWER Writing group. (In fact, I’m writing this blog because two of my fellow POWER writers allowed me to tag along to a coffee shop with them to write + one of them gave me the idea to write this blog entry).

 

3. Make sure to have F-U-N!!!!
Yes, fun. This is something I think we “academics writers” somehow think we need to deny ourselves. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, despite the grim topic of this entry, I decided to write this blog post just for “fun”. This is not an academic piece. This piece was intentionally a way to get out of my academic writing template and write in a totally different genre.

 

Fun need not necessarily be writing. Other ideas for fun include reading great literature (including poetry), watching an inspirational film, going to an art gallery, taking a walk in the park – anything that “feeds your writing soul” (yet another idea I heard from a fellow POWER writer). The inspiration you get from allowing yourself some fun is almost guaranteed to fuel your emotions and motivation to keep going.

 

It worked for me. I’m looking at my writing log and I’ve just finished 50 minutes of writing. From 0 minutes over 19 days to 50 minutes in one day…that’s pretty good. I think I want to come back to doing this tomorrow.  :-)