A friend asked my wife, “Is Michael always so affable?”
I laughed, of course. The friend was encountering social Michael. He’s affable, but he has a very short half-life.
To her credit, my wife said, “Mostly. He has his moods. He’s okay as long as I don’t disrupt his writing time. Then he turns into a bear, and it’s not Yogi or Boo-Boo.”
My writing day doesn’t begin until about eleven A.M. I walk before my writing session as part of my process. When I’m writing, I target scenes to measure progress, and not word count. I’m frequently able to think about where I left off, and then resume writing it in my mind as I walk. When I get in and sit down, I usually know what I want to write.
This doesn’t always work because the muses have their own plans. I try to be flexible, but it’s a struggle. I like having plans. Plans provide me with structure and illusions of control.
When the muses throw me off with their reveals, I often need to stop to see where they’re taking me. Since my writing time is precious, I’ll frequently go back and edit what I’ve written when that happens. That keeps me engaged in writing while giving my subconscious mind the opportunity to meet with the muses and hash it out. (There’s not actually any hashing out. The muses know where they want to take the story. It’s up to me to do as told. I like to say we’re hashing it out because it gives me the illusion of it being a collaborative effort.)
My writing session only lasts about two and a half hours. Plans are embedded around it, especially walking. Walking is my number one form of exercise, and it helps me process information.
My walking plans change by season. That’s not just spring, summer, autumn, and winter, but the embedded seasons of hot, fucking hot, cold, fucking cold, wet, and smoky.
We’re into the fucking hot season now, defined by jokes like, “Look, the temperature has dipped. It’s ninety-seven.” The forecasted highs range between ninety-nine and one hundred two for the next ten days.
For all the seasons, I break my walking down into bite sized goals. My overall walking goals remain about twenty thousand steps and ten flights. During the FH season, I try to make fifty-five hundred steps before I start writing at eleven. After I write, I then target ninety-one hundred steps. That gives me four miles by three P.M.
After that, plans are flexible and adjusted according to what else the day requires. I frequently end up walking about two and a half miles in the evening, leaving the house about eight forty-five and returning an hour later. Because we live in a hilly area, my flights go up to about sixty one these days. (I can do that during this season because we have more hours of daylight. This doesn’t work as well when it’s cold and dark, so I adjust.)
For all that, they are just plans. They rarely survive reality. In the end, I ride the wave of the day, seizing moments and narrowing my focus as needed.
Okay, today’s therapy is finished. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.