Posts Tagged ‘writers block’

Writing on a Bad Hair Day

Here’s my next installment on author myths.

Myth #5  Writers depend on inspiration to get through the writing day.

This one comes from the idea that writers are artists. And artists, as we all know–or think we know–are so very sensitive and subject to crippling moods.

It’s a persistent idea that writers are subject to unbearable sensitivities. The idea goes like this: writers are obviously creative people, and their fragile artistic selves have to wait for inspiration. The creative process, after all, must be fueled by the muse. When she’s snubbing you, you’re toast.

Is it true? Well. I’ve been inspired at times and bored with my work at times, and I’d much prefer to have aOvercoming Writers Block big dose of inspiration. Truth to tell, sometimes I’d settle for even a tiny spark. But if nothin’s there, a journeyman writer can’t wait for the muse to make an appearance. Nor is it a time–even with a big deadline looming–to break out the whiskey and work through the night.

The reality is, I’ve never blown a deadline so badly that I had to work all night. (Don’t ask about the whiskey.) This is because, even in times when I’ve been bored with my work in progress, I’ve been writing anyway. This is true even when I’m thinking the story may be terminally ill, my writing chops aren’t up to the challenge, and I’m so not in the mood to write.

Bad Hair Days

The reality of the writing life is, you may not get a great idea every day, but you write anyway. You refuse the excuse of writer’s block. It’s just a mood, not a cardinal principal.

You write through the blahs, because sometimes inspiration comes only after you’ve been typing for awhile. If you don’t have a great opening sentence, start with an adequate one. If your opening line is totally lame, just get it on the page and fix it later.

I know. It’s hard to watch yourself write lines, paragraphs, pages that lack elegance, interest, and originality. But you soldier on. If you’ve been writing long enough you know that eventually you’ll find your sea legs. And here’s the thing: Sometimes it’s because you wrote the lame material that the good stuff comes. You were just warming up. Your brain was not in the mood to write, but once it saw that writing was inevitable, it said, Oh for crying out loud, ALL RIGHT.

And then, because you’ve seen it work over and over again, you tolerate bad writing because you know that rewriting will be loads of fun. OK, strike that last idea. I know only a very few, highly annoying, people who love to rewrite, but at least most of us know that it can all be fixed on the next pass.

So, do you write when you’re feeling down, beat up, or just plain blah? Yes, you do. Because you know that while inspiration is the spice of the writing life, it isn’t the most important thing.

The most important thing is to practice your craft and have faith that the deep, beautiful story is within your grasp . . . but only if you keep writing.

Myth #1. It’s All in Who You Know

Myth #2. The Glamour and Prestige

Myth #3. It’s a Dog Eat Dog World

 

One Step at a Time

Today I hit a muddy patch in the novel. Not exactly a brick wall. Not really a bout of writer’s block, but a serious resistance to doing the work.

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I did feel like writing but I just couldn’t quite picture the next sequence. If I’m perfectly honest, I

didn’t really believe in the plot at that point. I had confidance in the overall plot, but this section was like looking across a chasm where the bridge was down.

Twenty minutes into staring at the screen and getting nowhere, I reluctantly concluded I had to do some deep, methodical plotting. I was going to have to think this section of the story through in excruciating detail. And I so did-not-want-to.

Mind games.

This reminds me how much of writing is a mind game. The game of talking yourself into things (like writing anyway) and out of things (like worrying that it’s not very good.) Read More…

Generating Ideas

It’s a perverted fact of the universe that writers are sometimes stumped about what to write. Give them a snappy first line in a timed writing exercise, and they jump in, keyboard clicking furiously, and then wow you with what they read out loud.

But for an original story? Um. A novel for crying out loud? Um, indeed.

Not that I’m talking about myself, you understand. Of course not.

But we shall fret no more, because there are three–count ’em, three–chances to shake loose your story ideas in a small, brilliant conference this weekend. And  if there’s no way you can pack up and get to Wenatchee, I’ll close this post with an idea-generating strategy of my own. Read More…

Introverts and the Doldrums

This post is a repeat of one in my Writing for Introverts series. (To read them all, see “Blog Categories” in the side bar.) I’m repeating this one (#3) because introversion is on my mind this week. Next week I’m going to the World Science Fiction Convention, an event designed by extroverts to terrorize introverts. So, if you’re going to that con, you won’t want to miss my dandy presentation Lone Star Con for Introverts at 6 p.m. on Friday.

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In the opening installment of my series on Writing 101 for Introverts, I explained what introversion is and is not, and why we don’t need to be ashamed of being a tad more inner directed than people for whom a room full of people holding cocktails is nirvana.  Part 1. Part 2.

This installment’s on doldrums. You know, the garden variety, I-don’t-feel-like-writing this week (and in more severe cases this month and worse.) You don’t have the energy you tell yourself. You are not inspired. Oh really? I think there is often something else at work, namely, those under-the-surface emotions that sabotage our writing. Such as:

  • discouragement about how the last story sold or isn’t selling
  • resentment of the industry which is so vile and unfair plus random
  • (related to above) incredulity and jealousy of how so-in-so is selling (plus his perfect life and that he mixes beautifully at cocktail parties)
  • a shrewd analysis of how your writing sucks
  • embarrassment over the total absence of anything professional to Twitter about
  • fury and sorrow that your agent does not answer your emails
  • and so on, into the depths of (your name here)’s true psychological state

Not a Malady of Just Introverts

Fortunately we are not alone, so we don’t right here have another reason to feel inferior to extroverts. But how does the other side deal with the doldrums? Read More…