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5min – Writers Block

I was listening to an episode of The Creative Penn today and she mentioned that all the pro writers at a recent convention she went to all have the same idea about writers block….it doesn’t exist.

The idea I see is “a plumber can’t have plumbers block, they have to go out and do their job.”

And they are right. Each and every one of them. A pro writer has to be able to get past “blocks” and just write, weather or not they feel like it. I have to go to my day job and do my work, or I don’t get paid. Same with a writer.

But, the idea of writers block is a thing. Perhaps it shouldn’t be called writers block though. Rather it is something causing the writer to spend their energy elsewhere.

For me it’s often bills. I have to pay bills, so I go to a day job, and I spend a lot of time on that day job. It’s a tough, and stressful day job. I often come home with a need to just close the door, and stay away from words for sometimes hours. That’s because my day job is using words. Talking to people. Trying to explain to them how to fix things. Depending on the day that is easier sometimes than others.

Other people might be “blocked” because they have family problems, medical issues or stress going on in their life that they are spending so much time on those things that they just don’t have time (or don’t think they have time) to do something creative.

Then there are the people that actually do sit down and try to write, but end up staring at a blank page for hours instead of writing. Now that, I think, is true. That isn’t a block so much as a lack of confidence. Inability to progress. Or plain don’t know what they are supposed to do.

I think I’ll come back to this idea later. But for now, my 5 min are up, and I need to go finish writing.

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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Day 3 – Full time Author

wordsToday has been incredibly productive.

It’s almost midnight and I’m about to go to bed, but I wanted to do my update post for the night.

I finished “Minotaur” today. I’ll be talking about that on tomorrow Bradbury Challenge Podcast. We’ll be recording at 10am on Blab (I think). Check my twitter for updates in the morning.

Overall, I’m really happy with the feel of Minotaur, but I almost want to keep going with it, add another scene or four afterward. But then it wouldn’t be a short story anymore. It’s just over 2k words at the moment, and I almost feel like it could be a novella.

I also worked on my “Dragon Project” today. I just can’t decide on a name yet, so “Dragon project” it is.

The first couple of days were difficult. I felt guilty that I wouldn’t be bringing in a steady paycheck for several weeks. (This isn’t a financial problem, Gregg and I both have nest eggs built for this exact reason, but it still felt bad.) Today the guilt, while still there, wasn’t that bad. I wrote, and I felt good doing it. I almost wanted to keep writing tonight, but I’m starting to fall asleep.

What I am seeing is that I can’t just write non stop. This morning I wrote a large portion of the short story, and some more on the Dragon Project, and then my mind started to wander. I started playing games, and tried going back to writing but just couldn’t. After going for a walk, and playing some D&D with friends, I came back refreshed and able to write some more.

I have always said I write better at night. I don’t know why this is, but the words just seem to flow better in the evening. Training, maybe, but that means I just have to start training myself to write in the morning as well. I’m working on it.

However, I do know for sure that I can’t just keep writing. After a while I need to step away from the computer, go for a walk, talk to someone, or just clean the house. Then, after I’ve had that time away from the computer, I can come back and write some more. I know that going for a short walk today was incredibly helpful to get those creative juices flowing again. I think I’ll be doing that again tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Excuses

Today Gregg came home and I was playing Minecraft. I love Minecraft, I find it relaxing. I usually listen to podcasts while I’m playing, or catch up on the news.

But then he asked how my writing was going. I was honest, as I always am (even when it hurts) with him. I had been writing earlier and I’d get back to it soon.

Then he hit me with the hard question, after stressing that he wasn’t trying to be judgmental or anything, he was just honestly curious…And I mostly believe him, but the question cut through me a little deeper than any other question he’s asked me.

I’m just curious if you make more excuses to write, or not to write.

Ouch. There I was, playing a game when I knew I should be finishing up that novel I’ve been trying to complete, and he was cutting to the quick of it, yet again. It hurt, but he was entirely right. I had been making excuses just like I usually do, and letting myself get away with it.

Excuses are insidious things. I use to think of them as the things I did to get out of an assignment, like washing dishes, or cleaning the lint trap. ANYTHING to get out of doing something I dreaded. But I love writing, right? So I wouldn’t be making excuses to get out of that. WRONG.

Writing is fun, just like painting or playing music, or making a vase. But when you try to shift from doing art for joy to doing art for a living you realize you have to do this thing all the time instead of just when the mood hits you. You realize it’s not always going to be fun anymore. Sometimes it’s going to be a slough and you’re going to have to do it anyway.

Oh I love my stories. I love creating worlds with fantastic creatures roaming through dark woods, and witches flinging spells across wide oceans, and men being cursed to live as hawks. I love the fact that all of these mystical and magical worlds that lived inside of me for decades now get to be seen by others. And I love that they will live on beyond me.

But that only happens if I actually write them. They only have a life of their own if I put in the work.

And, lets face it, playing a video game is fun. It can be mindless entertainment. It can be a complete distraction from everything else around you, including the art you want to create.

Substitute TV shows, books, train rides, sky diving or whatever in there. If we are using these little distractions as an excuse not to seek out our creative fulfillment then we are just hurting ourselves.

Now…I have a book to go write.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Don’t give up!

It’s nearing the end of NaNoWriMo. Just five days left, and I have 9300 words to go. That’s less then 2k a day. I got this!

But it also means that I’ve been really hard at work, and sometimes when I sit down at the computer I fumble through about three hundred words (words that I will just be throwing out) before I can actually get anything good down.

On one hand this is good. It clears my mind and gets me back into the writing motions. I’m okay with that. And the fact that I can recognize good writing from bad writing so fast, and still realize that I need to get it out before I can go back and fix it, means I’ve improved dramatically over the last few  years.

On the other… I have to throw out a bunch of words I just wrote. It sucks, however you look at it. Every once in a while you’ll see a tweet from me (if you’re following my twitter) where I say “just wrote 600 words and threw out 600 words. A day in the life of a writer.” And it’s true! Some days you have a bunch of drek to throw out before you can get to the good stuff.

But that’s okay. EVERYONE has those days. We all have a day where we don’t feel good, or we don’t feel like being creative, or efficient, or even getting out of bed. Sometimes we even give into those feelings. It’s okay, it’s normal. As long as the job still gets done.

I’m starting to think of writing as a job more and more. A job I love, but a job just the same. One in which you still have to show up and do the work every day or you don’t get paid. It’s not a hobby anymore, it’s something I need in my life, and I keep doing. Even on days when it’s tough. Even when the ‘muse’ must be tied up to the chair and force fed coffee to get her butt in gear.

So don’t give up. I know it can be tough sometimes, but don’t give up.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in NaNoWriMo

 

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Getting started is the hard part

Yesterday I wrote 1200 words just before bed. It took me about an hour and a half to churn it all out. I went to bed feeling a little giddy with how quickly the words flowed out.

Today? I sat down at the keyboard and looked at the words and my mind went blank.

I think starting is the hardest part. Once you get moving your mind just tends to flow. The words come, even if they are terrible words, and you eventually find yourself with a chapter. Then another chapter.

That’s the problem tonight. I chose a particularly tough chapter to write and my mind just kind of balked because I knew that every word I put down was terrible and would have to be rewritten. But that’s the purpose of NaNoWriMo. You just put down the words and don’t worry about them. Come back later and polish them up, or throw them out and rewrite it. I’m not very good at that, I like to get the words (mostly) write the first time and when I know I’m having difficulty with a particular scene or chapter my fingers just don’t want to go.

I suppose this is just another one of those learning experiences I need. Get the words down, and come back for them later.

Now to write.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing

 

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The Half Way Point

It’s day 18 of NaNoWriMo and a little over half way through the month. I’m currently at 25,800 words. Just slightly over half the 50k. And at this point I know I can make it, I’m actually farther ahead then I’ve been most years. But I am behind. Partly because of a huge storm that knocked out power for a day and a half. But the rest is all me.

Every year I do NaNoWriMo for the words, but mostly to learn something about myself, and writing in general. The last couple of days I learned that I have created a pattern for myself to write, and that if I’m knocked out of that pattern it’s really hard for me to get back on track. This is a good thing in that with a pattern I am able to sit down and write more. It’s a bad thing because you can’t always perform the same ritual every time you sit down to do something and that shouldn’t stop you from doing it.

My ritual: Sit down at the computer, put on my headphones, turn on some chillstep, and open scrivener. The chillstep playlists I use don’t have words, and I’ve listened to them so many time that I can tune them out, but they also help me block out everything going on behind me. I write in the living room, so there are children on the TV, Gregg at his leather working station, and a general hubbub going on most of the time. Even when I write in other locations I will use my phone to play some chillstep while I write. The music gets me in the mood. (I highly suggest getting a musical soundtrack to anyone who wants writing to be a habit. You just have to find the one that suits you.)

The storm came through and power went out. I sat at work slowly watching the sun sink, the office getting darker and darker. About thirty minutes before the sun set completely the one loan emergency light in the office also died. The battery is only suppose to last long enough to get people out of the building, and no longer.

My co-worker and I had only one little flash light. My phone was on it’s last bit of juice so I couldn’t even use it as a flash light. I did manage to sneak out and get a couple candles, but two loan candles don’t really light up an office much.

When I got home to a dark house with no TV, no computer, and no chillstep, writing seemed the last of my worries. It’s amazing how much the lack of light really bothers a person after a while. At least it bothered me. We lit a bunch of candles, and started a fire, but after a while of sitting in the dark not even reading my kindles was enough to distract myself from the utter quiet.

I think that was the worst part. The realization that lack of sound really bothers me. Odd since I work in an office by myself and there is no sound except the near constant vehicles driving by outside for 80% of the time. Even odder since I spent most of my life separated from the rest of the world, with no sounds other than the wind whispering though the trees, and birds singing from the branches. I lived on a farm well before Pandora, MP3’s or even Walkman’s. Music was a luxury, not an expectation.

I like to think that half the reason I like noise when I get home is simply because I just spent eight hours in an office that was extremely quiet. It’s good to have some noise to remind me that I’m not alone. I have always associated noise with my children and SO being there in the house with me. When I went to bed alone I always slept better if I could hear the video game playing in the background because I knew where my husband was. Now it’s the soft “tap tap tap” of Gregg punching designs into leather. Noise reassures me because I know where my family is, and that everyone is safe. And I’m not alone.

So last night I tried to write. I pulled out a notebook, not unlike all the spiral binders I have tucked away in my closet with thousands of words written on them, and tried to write. I scratched out a couple of ideas, wrote down the names of a few characters and…nothing. No more then twenty words and my mind just kept focusing on the quiet. The emptiness. The darkness.

I had to get out of the house last night. We went to the supermarket and had some deli food, sititng in the little food court with a bunch of college students charging laptops and phones since the campus was out of power. The noise, light, and people made me feel better. But I still didn’t get any writing done last night.

So it’s the next day. The power came back about 1pm today, and I have my music and my computer. My family is behind me doing their individual things, and my music is half drowning them out.

So why is it so hard to write today? It’s a good question. Gregg said to stop focusing on the fact that I’m 4000 words behind, and just focus on the next 200. That’s doable, right?

200 words, here I come.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing

 

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Stress Matters

Witch's Curse smI hoped to have Witch’s Curse out on August 8th last week. Unfortunately the editor took a week longer then planned to get the edits done. partly because he had an emergency come up that pushed back the start date of my edits by a few days, and partly because my novel ended up being slightly longer than planned.

I finally got the edits, and started working through it. Great! Everything was wonderful…except that once chapter. The editors note said “you might look at this chapter, it was a little confusing.” So I did, and discovered that it was confusing, and it was really boring. So…I decided I had to throw it all out (5000 words) and begin again. Not an easy task, but doable. I’m about half way through revising it.

That means “Witch’s Curse”, the second book in the Witch’s Trilogy, has been pushed back again since I do want a second edit of the things I changed. But that’s okay, I can still get it out by the end of the month (I think.)

But the title of this blog post is “Stress Matters” for a reason. Writing can be a cathartic activity, giving you the time to think, and relax. Or it can be incredibly stressful depending on what you are writing. Writing also uses a lot of your brainpower, so if your thoughts are revolving around a particular problem in your life, say buying a house as I am currently attempting to do, or troubles at work, or a death in the family, then your writing is going to suffer.

The last two weeks have had a bunch of little things that slowed down the publication of “Witch’s Curse”, but the stress of trying to buy a house, and work issues, worked to set it back a little bit more.

Stress matters! If you’re stressed out you probably need to take care of those issues before you can really focus on your writing. But sometimes you just have to write through the stress. It might not be great writing, it might not even be publishable, but it keeps you writing. Don’t stop! Don’t let the stressful slings and arrows of day to day living keep you from your dream.

As for me, I’m getting back on finishing that chapter.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2015 in On Writing

 

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