When Writing Takes the Hit

For the past several days, I haven’t been making my daily word count goal. I’m being productive, and I’m on track with various deadlines, but other personal and professional tasks have taken up my time. I feel guilty when writing takes the hit because there are only so many hours in a day, and making word count becomes the expendable task.

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Our appointment with immigration is coming up, so that’s a stack of paperwork and a list of errands to be tackled. I need to get a haircut so I can get a new photo taken for my residence permit ID, because I have the beard now and have decided to keep it. We need to gather fresh copies of documents from the university, the bank, and so on, that say the same thing as last time but have more current dates, to show that nothing has changed.

All that stuff requires is time, but it also triggers my anxiety. My ladder of inference is dealing with American government bureaucracy, grouchy civil servants who have no real desire or motivation to go out of their way to help you, systems that are slow and outdated, web portals that aren’t user-friendly, and forms and instructions written in dense, confusing language that makes you constantly second-guess whether you’ve read it right, knowing that you’re screwed if you make a mistake.

Granted, Finland isn’t like that. The forms and instructions are clear, the civil servants are friendly and helpful, and nothing has been painful. I still react instinctively whenever I have to deal with migri or maistratti or poliisi, as if I’m being force-marched to an American DMV or Social Security office.

So, time away from the keyboard plus focus-shattering anxiety.

Katie and I have our anniversary coming up. We’ll grab lunch while we’re out running the above errands. She’s up to her neck in academic deadlines, so we don’t have time (or money) to do a lot. I keep hoping that this summer, after our residence is renewed and she’s graduated with her Master’s and she’s submitted her doctoral proposal, we can scrape together the money to take a vacation. It’s not a lot of time away from work, but it’s time away from writing, at a time where everything feels like time away from writing.
I’m swimming in business and marketing things, trying to find ways to sell more copies of books that already exist. That means some new venues, learning the skills to lay out print books, and brokering some strategic partnership deals. All of which is necessary, but none of which is writing.

All of these are reasons for not making word count, but not excuses. I can give up reading books, watching movies, and taking recreational walks — and have. These things all take me away from the core work, the thing that gets my groove on, which is writing. The good news is that it’s still reasonably early in the month. Once I’ve gotten some of those other things cleared off of my plate, I can spend several days doing nothing but writing. I will be back on track by the end of the month.

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