After this week’s drama, this will be a short blog, more like a comment than a post. Mom’s knee replacement led to a pre op which led to a visit with a cardiologist which led to a nuclear stress test which led to an angiogram. Which was the same test that led to Dad’s four-week stint in ICU after we were told he shouldn’t have survived the blockage and the heart attack that originally was supposed to have been a mild one but after the test, so wasn’t. Which led to an emergency bypass which led to a code blue which led to everything else. Typical Mom, when she got out of the cath lab and back to her recovery room, she said she didn’t want us GIRLS to go through that again. Never mind what she had gone through. Fortunatley in her case it was caught early enough to treat with medication, and was not in the main arteries that Dad’s blockages were.
Drama. It sucks. I much prefer a quiet, peaceful life without this kind of stress. I didn’t go to work on Friday because I was too rattled, and because the night before the test I had a dream that I HAD gone to work, and was surrounded by my Team Lead, my Senior Reps, and my co-workers, even ones that no longer work there, all asking what the HELL I was doing there (my Team Lead’s exact words) and telling me what a terrible daughter I was. So I called in, and felt much better being able to talk to the doctor face to face instead of having to get it secondhand in a text from my sister.
Drama. When you’re a writer, it’s necessary. Life doesn’t go by without it, and neither do books. Books are never happy, happy, smile, smile all the time. Or at least the ones you actually want to read aren’t. You need drama and conflict and danger, or you have no audience. You take your experiences and distill them into their core emotion, stir them up into your ink, and throw them on paper, even if you’re writing about alien vampire voodoo dolls. As writers, we have the privilege of taking all that drama and writing it down and getting it out, even if it’s in a form that no one else will recognize. It is a way to order thoughts, deal with emotion, scream without making a sound. Many times it has been my only outlet, an outlet that I was grateful for.
Drama. Yup, it’s there. You can’t get rid of it. I’ve had my share for a while though. I’ll take the rest of my share in fiction, please.
Good writing, all.
Last week in my fever dreams I promised to go over the dreaded specter of WRITER’S BLOCK. It seems to be a universal nightmare of writers, no matter race, ethnicity, language, religion, or style. There are dozens upon dozens of writer’s web sites that see the question loaded over and over: How do I beat it?
If only there was a simple answer. Unfortunately it, like almost everything else about the habit/hobby/career/obsession of writing, it all depends on the individual writer. Probably the most common advice I see posted is to walk away for a while, do something else, do some yoga, read, knit, watch TV. Yeah, great advice, but it doesn’t work for me. I will come back not refreshed but frustrated, and go back to staring at the notebook or computer screen.
I’ve also seen advice to force it, no matter what flows from your fingers. It doesn’t matter what you write, because it can be changed later. Better, but that works better for me if I’ve temporarily lost the ambition, which is an entirely different problem than a block. If I’m blocked where I am, I might as well be smashing myself into a cement wall for as many words as I will be able to force.
Personally, I have a few different methods. The first trick I try is to work on a different project. That won’t work for everyone, because not everyone is crazy enough to have three series dribbling from their pen at the same time. Pirates, faeries, and aliens are different enough topics that if I get stuck on one, I can usually pick up a few pages on another.
If I’ve really been on a wave of inspiration and don’t want to leave the current story, then what I usually do is pick a future scene that will be important to the tale and start writing from there. I get in the pages I want to and can worry about how to connect them later. Often by the time I reach the end of the future scene, I’ve already got some notes jotted on just how to do that. Sometimes it might take more than one future scene, and a couple times I’ve ended up with books in pieces—twenty pages here, ten there, fifty in the middle, and the end finished. It can admittedly get confusing, but eventually it’s all connected like Frankenstein’s monster into a hopefully coherent whole.
If it’s really bad, the kind of bad where it feels like your brain is stuck in a video loop that just replays the last few words over and over, than I have a naughty little trick for that, too. It’s terrible, it really is. I advise you stop reading. I blush even as I’m typing. Anyone who doesn’t have a strong constitution, stop, or at least cover your eyes until you get to the end of this section. Ready? Okay, here is my deep, dark secret to keeping the writing juices flowing: Fan Fiction.
Yep, you heard me. Fan Fiction. When nothing else works for me, this does. It lets me work on story, and nothing but story, because, hey, pretty much everything else is done for you. Half the work is taken out of your hands. Even better, there’s no pressure. It’s not something you can sell and will never be judged by a publisher or editor, so you’re free to play. That, I think, is what unfreezes me the most, the freedom from self-judgment, because in the end, IT DOESN’T MATTER, not even the stuff I post publicly on line. So go ahead, sneer, laugh, vomit in disgust, I don’t care. And I know of at least one published author that was discovered just that way, so don’t laugh too hard.
That about covers what works for me. If you have any other cures that work for you, let me know. This is something that can be talked about over and over and over and over . . . and is if the Internet is any indication.
For now, merry writing, all, and keep the neurons firing in whatever way works for you! Cheers!
This week I’m trying something different, and for me kind of nerve-wracking. I am not pre-writing my blog, but typing it directly into the “content” box and hitting publish after one short check for typos. No editing, no saving to re-write a few hours later. It will be a real stream-of-consciousness effort, thoughts fizzing from my head to my fingertips with no plan, no topic, nothing. Just me and my computer, staring at each other, daring ourselves on.
Mostly this is because I’m having trouble wrangling the writing bug. I think it’s still smothered under the other bug that’s still got a bit of hold on my. I can’t get inspired. I’ve tried editing, writing new, changing stories, but nothing helps. My brain only gives me an annoyed glare and says “shut up already. I’m tired.”
It could also be depression raising it’s monstrous head again. That’s one thing that can kill the writing bug all together, then I have to wait to get infected with another one. But I shall not let it this time. I shall fight and I shall win. I refuse to suffocate under its stifling folds of decaying black again. I can’t afford to take a year off, not if I’m going to reach my goal of self-publishing in January.
Perhaps next week I’ll have enough ambition to actually cover the topic of writer’s block, ways I’ve combatted it, and advice from others on how to banish it to the dark netherworld from whence it hails. But not right now.
And . . . I’m done. I think the cough has settled enough to let me sleep, and the cough syrup is doing its work, grabbing my eyelids and forcing them shut. Before midnight on a Saturday. Boy am I a wimp.
So I shall be a true rebel and not even check for typos. So there, world. So there, computer. So there, inner editor. Take THAT.
Goodnight all, good writing, and all the best in your writing carreers.
Writing is my favorite thing, except for moments like now, which are made for Snuggies and hot drinks, especially hot drinks like Theraflu. Even moving my hands to the keyboard is an effort; I wonder if I have fingers, or a collection of ten-pound weights attached to the end of my arms. But I refuse to let it beat me. I try to get in an hour or two of writing/editing/etc. every day, and four or more on weekends, even if I don’t feel like it.
On days like today, when I very much don’t feel like it, I know I’m going to edit the heck of anything I put on paper, but getting something down is the important thing. It can be changed, twisted, deleted, or burned at the stake later on. That’s the good thing about writing—nothing’s permanent until after someone else reads it.
Lack of desire is not usually a problem for me. Normally I’d rather write than do anything else, except maybe breathe. (That’s my problem today. Breathing ain’t so easy, so it takes precedence over EVERYTHING. Ugh.) There have been a couple moments—okay, more than moments—when all ambition has abandoned me. During two periods of major depression, it was a year before I again picked up a pen. Once I did, both times I realized that not writing had been part of the problem all along. It is an outlet, a relief, a pressure valve. Not writing for me is not healthy.
If nothing else, it’s a good way to get revenge without anyone even knowing. Heeheeheeheeheeeeeeee.
Mostly, though, it is an escape, a way to get out of my own head, even my own skin, for a while. My female characters, though always flawed in some way (over sensitive, impulsive, depressive, etc.) tend to be strong, something I’ve never seen myself as. In all but one case the male characters are . . . not even human. Hmmm. Freud and Jung would LOVE me.
And I’ve begun babbling. Blame the fever. The chills have started anyway, I think it’s time for me to stop before I say something I regret. Or it simply turns into gibberish, which is also a distinct possibility today.
Good luck, my fellow writers, in all you do, be it self-publishing or seeking a traditional route. May you find your editorial soul mate.
Good writing, all.