2017 and Writing
Posted on September 5, 2017 Posted by John Scalzi 33 Comments
I was asked recently how writing is going these days. Here’s the answer:
Why is it going slow? Well, in no small part, because 2017 is one big gigantic trash fire, for reasons that I suspect are well known and about which I don’t need to delve into detail right now. Because of this (and a couple of other things) I’ve found it makes it more difficult to focus. What I’m writing is good, but there’s less of it on a daily basis, and that’s something I’m having to work with and make adjustments for. Living in deeply stupid times is turning out to be a challenge, basically.
Please note this is not me gently prepping you for any delays with regard to books. Head On will publish in April and it will be fab. But for those of you interested in process: Hey, it’s harder this year! Because 2017!
And also, as a note to other authors and creative folks who have found themselves jammed up a bit this year as the real world blunders about their head, wrecking things: It’s not just you, and you’re not alone in this. Keep at it. It’s what I’m doing, even if more slowly than usual.
Oddly, I feel more confident about my own writing and potential than I did a year ago, even as I’m less confident about the continued existence of human civilization.
Can’t thank you enough for this – will share.
My output has increased of late, but that’s only because I finally cleaned out my office and actually *want* to write there, now. I use three screen, the largest of which is dedicated to Scrivener, but the other two are for email and webby stuff. I try to check the news only when I get an alert from Cortana about the latest stupid thing our liar in chief has done, but have learned to ignore most of the rest. I also don’t get in Facebook debates as often as before. There’s no point. You can’t fix stupid.
Shared it with this preface: “Even prolific writers are having trouble maintaining their productivity through all the political trauma. Me too! Also, the VLOG brothers and many others. So if you’re thinking it’s just you, it’s not. While procrastination is a suboptimal response to barriers to productivity, caring about the world – and, better yet, doing something to improve it – makes you a good person. Besides, it’s the writer’s / creator’s job to care – or, at least, observe – and that can be hard to turn off and/or know where to draw the line.”
Glad it is just not me…
Thank you for this. I’m in the same fix. Some days, it is hard to get around the mindset that, with all that is going on in the real world, why even bother? I am managing to work around it some, but it is still difficult. And more so on some days than others. Nice to know it is not just me. And you.
Whew. I am not the only one. In fact, it is hard to clear my head at all….but days at the cabin without electronics help.
Avoid all the abundant news feeds and more writing time will open up. You blood pressure may drop back into a normal range as well. Just saying. . .
Every morning I have to spend a bit of time going to CNN to see if idiot Trump managed to start a nuclear war or something equally horrendous. Which is time I didnt have to burn when Obama was president.
Also have to spend another chunk of time just processing the dumpster fire that is Trump. Trump rushing to the defense of nazis. Trump Muslim ban. Trump trying repeatedly to repeal obamacare. Also, something I didnt have to worry aboutwhen Obama was president.
I’m having the same issue, though for slightly different reasons. I decided in January to become more active in the political process locally, and became a Precinct Officer for the Democrats in my district, and have been working to turn WA Blue. Takes up quite a few of my “down” hours, which leaves less time for writing, but it’s fulfilling in its own way, and I’ve learned to sacrifice other time fillers (less Twitter, less watching baseball games, etc).
Yup, same here. I’ve unplugged myself from a bit of Teh Stupid, if only for mental health reasons, and I’ve even lightened up on my own Two Cent Hot Takes. [For that, I’ve realized that there are so many more erudite people out there who have already said what I was about to say. I’m rarely on time for TCHTs anyway due to the Day Job. ANYWAY.] I’m plugging away the best I can. It’s slow going, but at least it’s going in the right direction.
It’s not just you writers. We readers (and I know a lot of people saying the same) are having a lot of trouble concentrating and getting things read, what with having to check if the world is still here or whatever.
Many adverse reactions to 2017. Seeing a very large drop in attendance of Hispanic groups to library programs and their actual use of our library system. From Outreach visits to events in Hispanic communities the feedback is fear of drawing attention. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise but it really is. Libraries strive to be an inclusive place and when we’re told people are afraid to come there it’s a bit of a shock.
I usually get a lot of writing done over summer. This year, that was not the case, for pretty much the same reasons. Glad to see the pros are also so afflicted.
I’ve heard a couple variations on the theme that we should look on the bright side of the Trump era: Think of all the amazing art it will inspire!
Ugh, I hate that framing. My studies of Very Old Literature (M.A.) and Very Old Music (30+ years experience) have taught me this: Art of all kinds thrives in times of peace, prosperity, and relative equity. When those conditions are NOT present, there’s a big, cavernous void where the art should be. The gaps are obvious if you dig around in the surviving source. It’s like a tangible absence, a shape of Not Art. It usually means that people were struggling and suffering and dying too much to make art. There’s no “bright side” to that, FFS.
@Hellianne: Art is quite high on the Maslow scale, both making it and appreciating it. Our Host’s safety is considerably less threatened than a lot of other people’s, I’m sure, but apparently still enough to rearrange his priorities willy-nilly.
Yup, and yup. I am not in a creative field, but my productivity and focus has still been affected by the ongoing disasters emerging from the cheeto-in-chief. I am actually glad that my workplace started a new internet security protocol that prevents me from accessing anything other than the company’s work website, because it helps me avoid getting sucked into watching the daily train wreck while at work. Bad enough that it consumes many/most of my non-work hours.
I know your current work will be excellent, and I’m looking forward to it very much. And I hope you and your fellow creators can successfully build in good self-care to defuse the inevitable stress from events outside your control.
Thanks. Home is always different when the 17/18 year old leaves for college. That slowed me down a little too.
Here’s that last few weeks of America’s news in one meme:
OK, I am not a creative type worker but I have been having a very hard time all year and knew exactly why. Thanks for sharing
Thank you. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one struggling.
“Living in deeply stupid times is turning out to be a challenge.”
–John Scalzi, 6 September 2017
This goes in my collection of internet bons mots, strictly for my own personal enjoyment. Thanks.
Wholeheartedly agree with this. I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year, but I was worried about my writing discipline given how many hours I end up losing on the outrage cycle of Twitter and The Hill articles. I’ve had to resort to camping out at my local Starbucks just to get any work done at all.
Random writing-related question that may have already been answered elsewhere- Will we ever see a sequel to Android’s Dream? I’m relistening to the audiobook right now, and it’s a lot of fun.
Looking forward to Head On. I recently read Lock In and it might’ve become my new favourite John Scalzi book, thereby dethroning Ghost Brigades. That’s a tough job, but you’ve done it. Great story world. I’m confident that the sequel will continue the good pace.
I’ve had a hard enough time getting out of bed for a while. Now I’ve started having Trump invade my dreams.
Yeah, it’s not just you. Even us non-magical, mundane worker bees are having more trouble concentrating these days. C’mon, Mueller, hurry up already!
Hocus. Pocus. Trump just robbed you of your Focus.
Oh please keep on chugging, shuffling, thinking, doing all that creative stuff us non-writers can’t do (in the next life we will be a writer, . . singer, . . . artist?)
We need you more than you know, but as you do know, especially during these four unthinkable years.
One thing I find helps: doing something, even the tiniest little thing, to make things better. I am not an American and I don’t live in the USA, but I can (and do) take part in the Sleeping Giants campaign. We take screenshots of ads appearing on Breitbart, tweet the advertisers – which often have no idea their ads are there – and ask if they really want to support a site like that with their media-buy dollars. (Adding a screenshot showing some of Breitbart’s hateful content helps.) Over 2,700 companies have pulled their ads so far, and the editor of Breitbart has told the New York Times our impact has been “severe”.
Limiting the time I spend reading news helps, too.
At least our favorite celebrities aren’t dropping like flies the way they were in 2016. It ain’t much, but it’s something.
It’s affecting us in the other arts too. Sometimes going to the workbench and making some silly little piece of art seems awfully trivial, and inappropriate in the face of so much evil. But this is what I know how to do, and even doing it slowly is keeping me together, somehow.
It’s also bringing in an income that I can use to help other people who need it. Right now, doing that is one of the places I find comfort and hope.
Slow or not, onward!
I haven’t wanted to write all year long, basically. I spend all night every night reading political news.