20 December 2008

Resolution #2: Identifying our urgency levels, and adjusting if needed.

It seems that every writer goes through productivity phases, and phases of greater urgency. I remember being very frantic about particular guideposts in my life (like: I must have published three books of poetry and two novels by the time I turn 30, or else I'll be a miserable failure. A miserable failure!). That's a silly example, but there are obvious urgencies involved in launching a fruitful job search, getting tenure, publishing, and sheesh, getting into grad programs these days.

With the new year around the corner (Next week. Next week!) it's a good time to assess our respective urgency levels, and to fine-tune them if necessary. Perhaps that will mean drinking three glasses of red wine and then reading the back section of Poets & Writers to see who has won what, and who has not won what (you, perhaps), and then weeping yourself into a productivity lather after eating 3/4 of a package of Nilla Wafers. Or whatever.

Because I care about you and your writing, I have devised the following heuristic for dealing with urgency levels at the edge of 2009.

1. What's your current urgency level, on a scale from 1-5? 1 = Frightfully apathetic and 5 = writing/sending out/applying for things like there's no tomorrow.

2. What pressures (or lack thereof) are you experiencing as a writer?

3. Do you need an urgency adjustment? In what direction, and why?

Thank you for your participation. As much as I would like to take you for a ride in the vehicle featured above, I must confess that it is not mine, and I am not welcome to drive it. Perhaps it will be awarded to some worthy poet who tries harder than all the rest.

7 comments:

Penultimatina said...

1. What's your current urgency level, on a scale from 1-5? 1 = Frightfully apathetic and 5 = writing/sending out/applying for things like there's no tomorrow.

My urgency level is a 2.75. I don't mean for it to be, but I've been really busy editing, and not spending enough time on my own work. 2008 was a very good journal acceptance year for me, and I think that is making me lazy. I do, however, feel that I am moving on to a new book project, though it's kind of hard (blank verse!) and not exactly tempting to work on.

2. What pressures (or lack thereof) are you experiencing as a writer?

Well, there's that whole "publish or perish" thing. Sometimes I spend so much time working on other people's book mss that I'm uber-conscious of my own. I am also adjusting to doing non-sim-subs (for good this time) while still keeping pace with sending work out.

3. Do you need an urgency adjustment? In what direction, and why?

Yes, I need to adjust my urgency levels. I'm happy to not be frantic and/or setting unrealistic goals, but I need a little more of a push. I want to crank the dial up to 3.5, or maybe 3.75.

Justin Evans said...

1. What's your current urgency level, on a scale from 1-5? 1 = Frightfully apathetic and 5 = writing/sending out/applying for things like there's no tomorrow.

1.25. I just sent out a submission today and one last week, but they were the first in over 3 months. My book ms. is now under consideration at 1 place.

2. What pressures (or lack thereof) are you experiencing as a writer?

I just got past putting together half a ms. for a new book, and I am pretty sure I will have the other half in a few months---or at least the basis for the other half, and I am not even sweating whether it will arrive.

3. Do you need an urgency adjustment? In what direction, and why?

I need to get the motivation to send work out. I just haven't lately. I really am having zero luck getting myself excited about being rejected another 30-40 times in 2009.

Lyle Daggett said...

1. My urgency level is 1 or less.

2. I'm not experiencing any particular pressures as a writer. (I don't work for a living in the academic world, or in any writing-related occupation, so "publish or perish" isn't a factor in my life.)

3. I think my urgency level is about where it should be.

It would be nice if I didn't have to work for a living, which would give me more time to work on writing. However, writing tends to go, for me, in cycles -- periods of very busy almost constant writing, alternating with periods of "not writing" (of not putting anything down on the page, periods of germination or fermentation below the surface), so having more free time wouldn't necessarily mean I would write that much more.

(I've had periods of a year or more in my life when I had much more free time than I do right now, and although I wrote a little more than I might have if I'd been working full-time, it wasn't a huge amount more.)

I try to sit with my poem notebooks open in front of me (either to a poem in progress or to a blank page) for a little while every day. Sometimes something comes out, sometimes it doesn't. But I manage to make the attempt nearly every day. That level of urgency feels about right to me.

Collin Kelley said...

I didn't feel any urgency until I read this post. lol

My urgency level is maybe a 2.99. I'm sending my novel out to two publishers this week and then it's back to working on the next poetry manuscript, which I have no set deadline to finish.

Oliver de la Paz said...

1. 3.333--I'm trying to be a bit more active on the writing and publication front. I had a pretty good summer, but my Fall & Winter has been typical.

2. While my 2nd book came out just last year, I go up for tenure and promotion next year. My chair assures me I'll have no troubles, but I would like to finish at least one project.

3. Rest assured I'm going to be extremely busy for the next quarter, so I need to definitely be organized, efficient, and proactive while maintaining a healthy family life. I need to dial it up just a little bit.

Margaret Bashaar said...

1. My urgency level is at about a 3.5. Two months ago I would have put it at a 5, but I've calmed down a touch.

2. I'm getting to the point where I feel like I "need" to put together/send out/cry over a chapbook ms. I have enough poems that I am very happy with and that all work together. Also, I'm seeing a lot of other people my age doing the chapbook thing and in my mind it is putting pressure on me. This is possibly unhealthy.

3. I for sure needed an adjustment two months ago, but right now I like where I am. I'm not freaking out any more, but I'm still working hard, and that is good.

kristy bowen said...

I think up until the beginning of this year I was going at about mock 5. I might just be getting complacent in my old age, but I'm probably at more like a 2 these days. I'm busy with the press and other artsy crafts things mostly and a lot of the time, I feel like I'm barely scraping up time for writing itself and organizing the new manuscript, so all that other stuff, the endless submissions, applications, and obsessing have fallen by the wayside. I'm not too worried about it, but I also feel like I need to be DOING something with what I am working on, and actually, you know, sending it out. Of course, I'm also a much happier and zen person at 2 than I was at 5, so I'm striving for a nice solid 3 in the coming year.