Let your yeast rise (confessions of a slow writer)

As I sip Diet Coke (ick, but it’s late at night and I need to stay awake), I shiver and sneeze. Multiple conflicting deadlines are fast approaching, and my rational and impulsive selves clash.

Work on the story you love! Who cares if it’s not due for a long time? This other stuff is b-o-r-i-n-g!

It’s time to be a grown-up! Stop mucking around, focus on the project due the soonest, and get the blasted thing done.

Wait, wasn’t there something interesting to read online?

And so goes the night life of an overscheduled writer. πŸ™‚

I’ve never met a passionate writer who didn’t procrastinate. Sure, I’ve known good writers who wrote like clockwork. One produced a manuscript six weeks after giving birth to her first child. (Between you and me, I suspect her results were partly based on brilliance but more due to sheer insanity. Oh, yes, and she nursed her baby. No sharing of feeding duty.) Besides a few exceptions, though, the authors I admire most do not churn out books regularly.

We talk about a “slow food” movement where we take time to savor the preparation and eating of food. Where is our much-needed slow writing movement?

I’m currently working on a writing project begun years ago.

Yep.

As much as I would have loved to complete the project by now, the past few years have taught me much about perseverance, maturity, and priorities.

Every good writer I know faces the same questions from time to time:

Does my writing suck?

Do I lack anything worthwhile to say?

Should I give up?

Does anyone read or care about what I write?

In my experience, the authors who struggle most earnestly with these questions tend to be the most mature and thoughtful in their writing. I don’t mean narcissistic whining (“Poor me, why doesn’t anyone read me?”) but genuine, honest soul-searching. There’s a world of difference between “My life sucks because people don’t read me” and “Does my writing have meaning?”

Because to a writer, “meaning” refers to our self-worth as a person. Words on the page are a bonus.

If you are a slow writer (or a slow member of your vocation), today I invite you to be slower to equate speed with worth. Sometimes we progress slowly because our project is too significant to progress without our full attention. Sometimes projects won’t be finished because we have not yet become the person who is capable of doing so.

A decade ago, I experienced a life event that I intended to put into memoir form. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I produced over one hundred single-spaced pages of manuscript, and I kept writing. I received a commitment from a publisher to publish the final draft.

Ten years later, I have not yet become the person capable of writing that story. And so I grow, and I wait, and I work on becoming that person.

When baking bread, a quick yeast rise produces little flavor. For the richest flavors, we should decrease the amount of yeast, decrease the room temperature, and increase the time for allowing the dough to rise. The dough gives off a slightly sour, tangy scent of fermentation, and the edges of the loaf form a rich crust.

Today, if you are slower than you’d like in achieving one goal or another, I ask you to savor the extended rising time. When your yeast achieves its potential, the deeper flavor will be worth it.

Let your yeast rise.

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25 thoughts on “Let your yeast rise (confessions of a slow writer)

  1. abby says:

    Oh, Ana. you have become a wonderful part of my morning routine. I have never heard it put as you just did….but it is excellent advice…let the yeast rise, and while you are at it…smell the flowers.
    hugs abby

    Like

  2. sassytwatter says:

    Beautiful post. Some things take time and come at their own spore and are more axing because of this. Good luck with your project and impending deadline. I look forward to one day reading your labour of love. And as always thanks for making me hubgry.

    Like

  3. robskatie says:

    Wonderful piece Ana!!! Reminds me of “there is a time for everything…” We must stop and smell those roses! Though at this moment all I see is snow around here. Lol. Great read! Many hugs,

    ❀ Katie

    Like

  4. Ami Starsong says:

    I see what you are saying – like the saying “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well”. I remember two of my Polish aunts practically coming to blows because one wanted to savour the making of her yearly marmalade from the finely sliced peel to the carefully pouring the hot new marmalade into chunky jars and writing pretty labels. The other aunt wanted to chop away like berserk and get the job done and out of the way as quickly as possible. I love both those aunts but I’ve always looked forward to and savoured the making of my yearly marmalade.

    I confess I am having great trouble with bread without the Aga – the kitchen just doesn’t seem warm enough and my loaves don’t rise as well.

    You are perfectly right – you need to savour every minute of your writing. Write what you enjoy doing the most, even if it takes the longest. It will be worth it, not only to you, but to those who read it.Sadly we all have to to the boring stuff as well – the rough with the smooth. I just wish I had more hours in the day.

    Many hugs
    Ami

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Well, there is something to be said for getting a job done instead of dithering for ages. πŸ™‚ Procrastination of perfectionism is not a good thing. And some people only want marmalade to eat, while others want to savor the process. I was actually thinking of making some strawberry freezer jam. So easy, and all I’d need to buy (besides strawberries) would be pectin.

      The boring stuff must get done, sadly!

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  5. catrouble says:

    Lovely piece Ana but I still hate doing the boring stuff. πŸ˜‰

    Hope you meet all your deadlines!

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

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  6. LA Cloutier says:

    Great Advice Ana, I really appreciate it. I tend to think I’m a slow writer as well. And those questions you posed up there have all at one time and repeatedly, crossed my mind.
    You’re advice is encouraging. Thanks πŸ˜‰

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  7. Blondie says:

    I would be the very best writer since I am so good at procrastinating. And I miss my Diet Coke. I gave it up a year ago and it is just such a habit and a pleaser that I miss it. So since I am not drinking Diet Coke, I have pretty much given soda. I only drank the one soda.
    Hope your yeast rises faster than normal.

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  8. Irishey says:

    Ana, the “yes man” had left the building.

    I think you should mark a future date on your calendar to party with the story you love – a treat for yourself, something yummy to write about. Meanwhile, buckle down on those rapidly impending deadline projects and get them knocked out. Make sure you plan a little treat for yourself each time you accomplish a measured task – meaning break these things out into chunks that show progress and deserve to be acknowledged with a little celebration. You deserve to reward yourself as you get things done. You well feel so much better having the drudgery behind you, leaving you free to enjoy only fun stories, baking, socializing and quilting granny parties.

    My mama hat is firmly lodged on my head today, but my children are being wonderful angels. I needed somewhere to use my mama-ese, so how fortunate to return from a shopping trip to find this post using yeast as an analogy to justify procrastination. Rotflol! πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, I do understand, and you are absolutely correct that some things need to season and age before they can attain their fullest potential. Not everything can be rushed, nor can it be. Some things will happen only in their own time. Let your yeast rise, indeed.

    Big hugs!

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hmph! Spoilsport. πŸ˜›

      Now, I never said I was justifying procrastination. Exactly. In so many words. I can’t be helped if certain people interpret it that way. Including me. πŸ˜€

      Retirement looks pretty fun, I must admit. Now if only I could figure out a way to fund the rest of my life as a retiree. πŸ˜€

      Like

  9. minellesbreath says:

    So many thoughts come to my mind with this post. Sometimes we have that creative burst of energy when everything falls into place and we create as time zooms by! However the times we procrastinate may really not be procrastination, but a way to assimilate all we need to do the job right. It may be our spirits way of slowing us down to make sure we are ready to tackle the beast!
    Good luck— and savor the process hon!

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  10. Ria says:

    As I savor your words, I think of your writing as a decadence box of chocolate – to be indulged slowly. Your stories allows my imagination to take flight. Therefore, whatever you need to produce a superior novel, works for me. I prefer to read 1 book a year with depth, insight and gut-churning anticipation than the frequent, mass-produced, slap-dash results so readily available.
    Of course, with so many great authors to choose from, I do get the opportunity to indulge in several books a week, :-).

    Like

  11. Roz says:

    I Ana, I love this post. So beautifully and eloquently put and a great message. Good things take time πŸ™‚

    Good luck with your impending deadlines.

    Hugs,
    Roz

    Like

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