Musings

[Blog] That Other Story

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It’s happening again. I’m sitting down to focus on one story, and I catch myself drifting off and daydreaming and plotting out an entirely different one. One the one hand, I can hardly complain about multiple story ideas bouncing around in my head. On the other, I can’t help but wonder if this is just another sneaky way to procrastinate. (Spoiler: It totally is.)

Even so, it’s a sight better than other, non-story related methods of dragging my feet. Let me explain: there will always be distractions while writing– that goes without saying– but the ones that are the hardest to deal with are the internal ones, not the external ones. If you’ve got external ones, like giddy kids the next room over or construction going on outside or just plain busyness in life, you can almost always snatch a few minutes to write here and there and still make progress. It’s not ideal, but it works.

But if you’ve got internal ones, alternately known as a lack of motivation, or an overactive inner editor, or maybe even writer’s block, it’s that much harder to make those five minutes count. And when you are getting hit from both sides, that’s how you end up with a long stretch of time with not so many words. Or I do, at any rate. But if the internal distractions are still writing related, then at least you’re still training yourself to do that writing thing.

Or in other words, I’m just grateful that my brain is playing the right game and not trying to use the metaphorical ball to play fetch with the cute stray mutt that just walked by.

And who knows, maybe that new idea that ambushed me a couple days ago will be worth pursuing sometime. I wrote it down, just in case.

Musings

[Blog] It’s Mocking Me

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, that picture is an animated gif. Like this one:

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Back when Facebook flair was still a thing, I had one that looked a lot like this that enjoyed a place of honor on my little virtual bulletin board. It just perfectly sums up what it feels like when the words refuse to come– which is probably why it ended up as a piece of flair in the first place*.

At the time I didn’t have a daily wordcount that I was trying to reach, so the impudent blinking of a few pixels on a blank screen usually had no trouble derailing me. And truth be told, it still succeeds more often than I’d like even now, with the only difference being that I’m a little better at pushing my train of thought back onto the tracks. Or at least better about coming back to it whether I want to or not.

As you may have begun to suspect, today is one of those days when the cursor seems to be winning, sitting intransigent about halfway down the page of my document with half-finished bits of story lying in shambles all around it. The joke’s on it, though, because while it’s busy over there, I’ll stay here and work on something else. I always knew there was a good reason to have a couple projects going at once!

 

 

* Oddly enough, I’ve had a heck of a time finding it since then, and were it not for someone’s old livejournal account (link), I might not have been able to at all.

Musings

[Blog] Static Friction

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The last month has, to say the least, been a little busy. Between traveling, moving, and the holidays it’s hardly surprising that I’ve missed a few days of writing, and while the rest was welcome and needed, it hasn’t made it any easier to get back into the swing of things. If the storytelling process can be compared to pushing a block of stone up a long, slow incline (and believe me, it can), then I’ve let my block come to a stop while I catch my breath and prepare to get it going up the next segment of the path. I may have needed to stop and catch my breath, but it’s still going to be difficult to get it moving again.

I’m tempted to compare the whole thing to the torment of Sisyphus, but that might give the wrong impression. I enjoy writing. (No. Shush. It’s not Stockholm Syndrome. Stop looking at me like that.) I’m just also keenly aware that if I want to get anywhere with writing, there’s an awful lot of work involved. Plotting, planning. First draft. Second draft. Editing. And that’s before there’s even a finished product that needs to be marketed and promoted. Sure, today I just need to write a few hundred words, but then I need to do the same thing tomorrow and the day after that and again after that until I’m done.

On the bright side, I’ve done this whole starting-and-stopping thing enough times that I know it’s going to get easier again as soon as I hit my rhythm. The cursor on the screen won’t feel like it’s mocking me quite so much. Words won’t play hide and seek with me for ten minutes before I can find the one I want. My inner editor will stop muttering and fluffing its feathers and will remember that it’s turn is coming soon enough. The block will be moving up the hill again, and I’ll just have to keep the pace.

Musings

[Blog] Battering Rams

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I am a huge proponent of brute forcing your way through writer’s block.

Some days, you just want to write. The words are coming and you like them and the story is unrolling before you in all its glory. Some days, you think it’s going to work out like that, only to have it all melt away as soon as you put your hands to the keyboard. You know the ideas are still there. They’re just out of reach. And then there’s the days when you feel like this whole writing business is absolutely nuts, you’re a hack, and why did you ever think you could do it?

And then, sometimes, that last kind of day stretches out into that kind of week. Or even that kind of month– or longer. Writing anything feels like pulling teeth, or pushing on a locked door, or trying to convince your cat that she should come cuddle with you. It’s awful, and it makes you wonder whether it’s worth all the trouble.

Which brings us back to the battering ram method of pushing through writer’s block. As a little background, I do my best to write two hundred fifty words six days a week. I can tell you right now that there are days that sitting down and doing it is the last thing I want to do. Maybe my mind is just wandering. Maybe everything I do manage to get onto the page feels trite and shallow. Maybe the last ten ways I’ve tried to start a scene have fallen flat, and I’ve already got a sinking feeling that Attempt No. 11 is going to do the exact same thing.

The only reliable way I’ve found to get myself past all that is to just sit and write. I can’t guarantee the quality. I can’t guarantee that the scene will suddenly sublimate into something wonderful. I certainly can’t guarantee that it will get easier to write on any given day. But I can guarantee that I keep writing. Despite the horrid, stuck feeling and everything that comes with it, I still have raw words that can be used, formed, and edited. Or I’ve crossed another narrative path off the list, which means I’m one try closer to finding the one that will actually work.

I can hardly take credit for this idea, of course. Many writers far better than myself have said something similar many times before; in particular, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, and Agatha Christie come to mind. It’s also, more or less, the concept behind NaNoWriMo. And I suppose, in some ways, it takes some of the mystery out of writing, making it seem more like mining than anything else.

But that’s okay. Because writing is like mining, and there’s a lot of dirt and much less ore. It takes work– hard work– to create. And I’m not the first person to have that thought either.