Go see my newest cover that is being revealed, Anaerfell by Joshua Robertson. Let him know what you think.
First, I do not give credit to or believe in “writer’s block.” There is no such thing, but we have to call the conditions of sabotaging ourselves something I suppose. I don’t care for the term myself because it deflects responsibility to this mysterious entity. There isn’t a monster hiding behind our typewriters, just like there isn’t an angelic muse hovering over our shoulders.
We come up with the ideas. We execute them. We stall ourselves. We have our very own Goal, Motivation, and Conflict just like our characters.
I can’t tell myself that I don’t have time to write. Anyone can make time to write every day even if it is for a few moments stolen here and there through the day. So, chunk that one down the garbage disposal. Short of hardware issues and a massive shortage of pen and paper, there are no real external excuses that are valid.
There are times when we let life get to us. I’m going through bits of this myself at the moment which is one reason why I am writing this post. From my own personal experience, I’d guess that external situations such as stress with family or a job, impact us on the internal level. While external issues can’t be discounted, we internalize them. We react. The way we deal with those external factors is what matters.
I can’t dissect what is impacting you, but I can say that if you know yourself you can diagnose your underlying issue. Personally, I am an introvert. I need a good amount of alone time to recharge and when I get stressed I withdraw. Normally, I do well with deadlines, obligations, and goals. Add in some stress factors to my happy life and I shut down. I go to the other extreme of slacking in an attempt to get my alone time back.
Since I know this about myself and have witnessed it unfolding before my eyes, I can work in ways to adapt.
My house is always occupied lately. That tends to happen with a 9 year old, two cats, and a forever fiancé living under the same roof. So, I plan on redefining alone time by relocating myself outside the home. A change of scenery. This can cure a lot of different issues.
I’m reinforcing my motivation by posting my goals in our hallways. My greatest supporter happens to be my forever fiancé, so sharing the goals with him will help. It happens that to coordinate all of our lives is requiring a combined schedule that I post every week. I have a monthly schedule right alongside of the weekly one and my deadlines are on it. As I mark off the days, my deadline looms on the horizon. I am very conscious of it.
I remind myself of what makes writing enjoyable for me. I make my environment as pleasant as I possibly can. I reward myself with down time when I meet my goals. I love the show Vikings, so I don’t allow myself to watch it until I have my word counts or time done. When that series is over, I’ll have to substitute it with something else.
I’m bugging the hell out of my writing friends. Telling them of my situation and about the current projects. These people helped me through writing and getting published, so if needed they’ll drag me through this one way or another. A good support system is irreplaceable for me.
There are all kinds of ways to tweak your life and your response to get things going again.
Internal Conflicts for us though, in my opinion, are all rooted in fear. Fear of something. Self-doubt, fear of the hard work it takes to bring a story to completion, fear of the commitment, fear of failing, or whatever.
Find out what you put in your own path to finishing your story and kill it. Brutally with no apologies.
Next post on this series will be all the different ways you can kill your conflicts.
Check out Story Medic’s posts on similar topics as we discuss our completely different writing processes. Plus, he’s given his site an overhaul. It looks great!
Writing Process 4: Rough Draft
In the last post, I went over how I outline and I’m guessing it is more detailed than the average writer. Well, I am a brand new writer with very little experience. I have little faith in my skills. The outline helps me catch issues before I start to write. It is more work up front instead of on the back end. I’ve written without an outline and those documents are a huge mess that need to be re-written. They languish in the story void. I’ve learned my lesson.
Plus, when I outline and pre-write (I’ll get to pre-write in a moment) I don’t stare at walls or bang my head on the keyboard as much. I am more productive when I write and currently my writing time is severely limited with West’s fractured foot and the typical needs of a 9 year old little girl. Every moment I have counts.
Now, it isn’t quite time to write just yet. I warm up by pre-writing. This is where I take 15-30 minutes typing up short notes that happen in the next scene or two. I easily get off track when I write and my characters wander around doing what they want and get nowhere. These little phrases and notes help me keep focused.
Since I’m currently working some short stories, I use Word. If I were writing anything more than 20k, I’d probably switch to Scrivener. With short stories my sequence is fairly nailed down. Switching scenes around more than likely won’t happen. In longer stories, it is likely though and I do love the ease in which I can re-arrange everything in Scriv. Plus all those handy note folders. It’s great.
Anyway, above my pre-writing I start my rough draft. I write as long as I can. I eat something before I write and keep a drink handy. I’m inevitably going to be interrupted either by my family members or the need to put laundry in the dryer. I limit my own disruptions as much as possible. When I finish the scene, I delete the pre-writing as long as I’ve included everything.
I start where ever. Just write. My rough drafts often start with dialogue just to get me going. However, when I edit I give the reader something to stand on before dialogue. Perhaps a brief description of the setting and use several senses. Bring the reader in and let them adjust, know the environment. It takes maybe a paragraph. Then jump into action. Don’t worry with it right now.
I’m coming to realize a few things in this writing adventure.
- My writing sucks beyond all suck. It is awful. My rough draft especially.
- I have more typos and mechanical issues than my 9 year old’s writing.
- I will be completely unsure of my story concept. Always. This never stops.
- My characters will have no personality. Practically cardboard.
- My dialogue is that of a b movie.
- West can help find typos and misplaced commas. Don’t let him help me with the actual story.
- And it’s all okay. It can all be fixed because I actually have something written. You can’t revise a blank page.
I don’t know what else to say about the writing. I try not to worry with editing until I’ve finished for the day. I try not to go back and fix anything. The ominous “They” tell you not to edit as you go. Screw that. I’ll fix what I need to in order to feel better about moving forward. If I can fix a “wibble” or re-word something then I’m doing it. Best to do it now before I forget. It is all good as long as I am adding to my word count. I try not to delete anything in this process. Only change or add.
I go back and fix obvious typos. They bother me otherwise.
The next day, I reread what I wrote yesterday. I’ll play text to speech and listen to it. And yes, I’ll fix items. I don’t typically spend a lot of time on this, I’m thinking 15-30 minutes. This isn’t the time to revise or edit much. The story needs to make sense to me though and I like for it to flow. I don’t worry too much about plot points, or structural issues. Hopefully, I’ve taken care of that in my outline process. I can refine it later. Go ahead and over explain. Go ahead and write a page of description. That is what the delete button is for on my keyboard. Go ahead and put in “wibble” when I’m not sure how to word something or connect an event. Keep the fingers moving. Stop as little as possible.
If I didn’t pre-write the day before, I start with the next scene or two and work on my notes. Start the process all over again. Referencing my outline and pre-writing as needed.
If I get stuck for too long of a time, then I move on to another scene. If I’m getting frustrated I get up and do the dishes.
At this point in my writing journey, I love outlining and plotting. It is so full of potential. I dislike actual writing. I’ll be honest and confess it is a chore. I love having written though. I did something. I accomplished something. I am not usually in love with my rough draft. It is so full of issues, it is disheartening. It’s all fixable though if I overcome all the obstacles I put in front of myself.
Visit Story Medic to see his completely different process.