I’ve been traveling again, and as so often happens it takes a while to reset my writing schedule. The distractions are multitudinous: backlogged emails, to-do lists that grow rather than shrink, and the seemingly never-ending jet lag (or driving lag after road trips).
It seems this is a recurring problem. As I glance back through my “On Writing” posts I see a lot more about not writing than writing. Some of this is to be expected; after all, one can’t write too much about what you are writing as you’re writing it, right? But it does appear that I have some difficulty getting back into a writing rhythm after travels. Given that I travel a lot (see Science Traveler), losing rhythm quickly leads to cacophony.
It’s not writer’s block so much as it is writer’s overextension. I’m just trying to do too much. Unlike those who miraculously appear to be in a perpetual state of flow, where productivity is maximum at all times, I’m one of those whose distraction levels keep me constantly reigning myself back into the project at hand. Or projects, which is a good part of the problem.
In the last couple of months my “flow” has been interrupted by a road trip to Charleston (SC), a people-to-people tour of Cuba (returning home just days before such tours were banned), and an even longer road trip Chasing Abraham Lincoln through nine states. Time between trips largely sunk into many Lincoln-related meetings, symposia, and plans. Writing was squeezed into this torrid careening from hour to hour.
So once again I’m trying to get back on track. While the “Stephen King Rules for Writing” goal of 2000-words a day works well for fiction, it’s completely unworkable for non-fiction writing. Some days I can spend hours pulling information only to see a few hundred words appear on the page. Other days a thousand words can flow like lava. The inability to tote voluminous resource material onto planes, trains, and automobiles means non-fiction writing on the road (air, sea) is relegated to travel memoir. So my trip writing adds to the WIPs (works in progress) already on my laptop. At some point, something has to be finished.
And how do I do that? First, finish writing this piece, turn off Facebook and other social media, and crack open the laptop.
Oh, and head into town for that Lincoln lecture. Yeah, right after that.
[Photo: David J. Kent, Overseeing Edinburgh]
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.