Did you hear that?
That, my friends, was the sound of this over-worked, over-stressed, over-tired, and way under-paid (and often under-appreciated) girl making her writing goals for the week.
Yes, in the face almost-astronomic odds, I managed to produce the nine drafts which I expected from myself in four days (that’s 2.25 drafts a day, folks). If I manage to produce two drafts over the weekend (so work slightly slower than the break-neck pace I set for myself at the onset), I will be in tip-top shape at the beginning of next week and, by the end of the week, ready to turn everything in on time and close the book on this semester.
Perhaps more importantly than the statistics, I’ve managed to write myself over the great mid-draft slump.
You see, I’m a very very slow writer. I take many many drafts to produce something turn-in-able. I’ve totally been over this before. At some point between preliminary vomit draft and pristine turn-it-in paper, I hit what I like to call the “mid-draft slump”. It’s that point in the paper-writing process where you look at the mess you’ve made, you look at the work you’ve done, and it hits you: this is completely inane. You haven’t produced anything of value; you’ve barely produced anything. In fact, all this research you just did is pretty much garbage because it hasn’t led you anywhere. You’re not saying anything original; you’re not saying anything at all.
It’s a horrible place, an awful place, a place of desperation and darkness. It’s a place where you simply can’t see your way out, and you just want to bury your face in all of this pulp you’ve produced and cry your little heart dry as your tears intermingle with the ink on the page and create great literary rorschachs. It’s a place that just makes you want to give up; hang up your red pen and go be illiterate for the rest of your life.
And the only way to get through this place is to write more. If you find yourself here, it means that you’re still hammering. It’s inevitable; there’s got to be a place between A and Z. The process of paper writing is the process of idea formation, and idea formation starts with research. Getting from a ton of research to your own thought is a process; an action; it’s not a single moment. You are never going to produce perfection in one draft. Not no way, not no how.
What makes me nervous is that this go-round, the mid-draft slump was extremely quick. Nerve-wrackingly quick. I mean, in the past I’ve been stuck in the mid-draft slump for three or four drafts sometimes. This time, it took a single draft to work my way somewhere with the bright light of hope shining down upon me. I guess that this should make me happy (the mid-draft slump isn’t, after all, a very nice place to be), but really it just makes me anxious. Have I picked something entirely too obvious to argue? Am I just putting forth an assertion of the facts without adding anything new to the conversation? Am I repeating myself? Are these drafts just sixty pages of Graduate-level macaroni pictures?
Maybe for the sake of my own mental health, I have chosen to view this as a good thing. I’ve come too far this semester to look back now, and I won’t let the accomplishment of my goals (even in record time) make me too apprehensive to savor that fruit.
So take that, mid-draft slump! Return to the darkness and stay there until the end of next semester! I have, once again, conquered you with the strength of my mind, the might of my pen, and the force of my sheer stubbornness!
Yea, I simply walked into Mordor. And I walked out too. Didn’t need a flying eagle rescue
….I’m going to go collapse on my couch and return to my re-read of The Hunger Games now. That won’t take any brain power and it’ll still make me feel intellectually superior to those who watch TV in their spare time. I’ll return to being smart tomorrow. Tonight is all about resting the gray matter.