It was the flu. The fever crept in mid-week—after the sore throat and lack of energy sent me to bed. The fever kept me there for days.
Since my writing has been in a better place than it has in months, the timing was really bad. You see, I don’t function well when I’m ill.
The last time I was sick, really sick, was probably two years ago. Thank god for that because I kind of turn into a giant brat. I’m generally mad for the duration. And I don’t think clearly. That’s likely due to a combination of cold medicine and head congestion.
So as I’m trying to pull myself back into a productive state of mind, I’ve come up with a few motivational triggers that have helped.
Reading unlocks your brain and gets the writing current flowing again. And if you feel awful, you can read in bed.
Yeah, I know. But once your energy returns, exercise. Run, walk, whatever. It is one of the best ways to get back in the saddle.
For me this is obvious. But not for everyone. If listening to music triggers certain responses or emotions, use them. Music is great for generating ideas.
Yep. If you’re finding zero inspiration, sometimes going over your WIP with a skeptical eye is the best motivational tool.
Thankfully, my foggy head has cleared and standing for more than an hour is no longer torture. I have a lot of work to do.
This has been the most productive writing week I’ve had in months. Literally. Harnessing a writing streak however, can be an impossible task, so when it strikes, run with it. Here are some repercussions of what I call ‘writers hold.’
1. You have consumed more coffee or hot tea than your body weight.
2. Pajamas become proper work attire.
3. Your laptop has attached itself to your hand.
4. You wake up at three in the morning because your unconscious mind just unlocked the key to Chapter Ten!
5. You realize the dishes haven’t been done in days and you haven’t left the house in over 24 hours.
6. You start talking to yourself. Out loud.
7. You are in pain from the neck down.
8. You have amassed over one hundred unchecked emails and you don’t care.
9. Your blog posts become increasingly random and more sporadic.
10. You have no idea that your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, child, roommate is talking to you.
11. You don’t know todays date.
12. And you are thankful as hell for all of these things because they spell…PRODUCTIVITY.
When I finished my first novel I tucked it way for a few weeks to simmer and set. Then my break-need set in as well. I’d completely burned myself out. I knew it was coming on for quite a while. Fast forward to a few months later, and regaining entry has proved more difficult than I expected.
There is a disconnection that happens when you leave a WIP to rest a while. The positives are seeing your piece with fresh, often scrutinizing eyes. The negatives–what you see may or may not be something you like or can even use. Not all we create will be worth a damn in terms of publication, regardless of the time spent–weeks, months–years even.
In my attempt to pick up where I left off, many aspects are working quite well, while others, I see now, must be scrapped. I shall need to rewrite my first chapter for instance. A daunting prospect as it has given me trouble since day one. I would scrap it too if I could figure out how without losing needed story elements. It just refuses to roll off my tongue in the right way. My playlists are providing some needed inspiration and with any luck will carry me through the 25 or so pages.
Any tips for re-entry after letting the novel stew a while? Ideas to trigger to inspiration?
“The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished mss of today.”
– Philip Unwin
Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.
This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.
The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.
So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.
Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears
Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside
Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release
A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark
Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.
Placebo: Running Up That Hill
The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You
Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory
Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition
Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.
Let me just say it.
I’m going to be honest for a second here. I haven’t been writing much. I know! Bad Me. The truth? I’m tired of it. Not writing mind you–I’m tired of my story. Tired of messing with it, tired of editing and trying to make sure it’s where it needs to be, what I want it to be. Maybe that’s a good thing. I finally reached the ‘sick of it’ stage. The problem with this stage, — I am going nowhere.
What’s worse is that I am flirting with starting another novel seed in my plethora of ideas. I know! Bad again. I should be finishing editing #1 and releasing it into the wild. I even created decent cover art after the Gimp fiasco! I should be writing #2 in my series. I should, I should, but I CAN’T right now.
AND….I am ignoring the blog. I’m getting worse and worse at posting. No, No, I don’t need a break, I’ve had a break. What I need is to plant my butt in the chair and write.
So there. Spoiled Laney having another tantrum. Just to let you all know that yes, I’m still here. Still fussing around with 80,000 words I’ve been fussing around with for a year and a half. ;P
I have more documents on my first WIP than I care to admit. I’d venture to guess I have around seven, at least. They all contain different information as well as the same information repeating itself. Information I am deathly afraid of losing. Why? A years worth of headaches are wrapped into those documents. First drafts and second drafts and sixth drafts. Ideas and notes and brain storms are within those docs. Plus, I have three full notebooks of notes as well.
And through all of that information and research and time and sweat, I wonder–did I use it all? Is it all in there? Inside the novel, tucked away in its pages and in its story? I don’t know if it is. I did so much in regard to my first book that it completely overwhelmed me. It was too much information. Too many ideas and I couldn’t shut it down. So really–there is NO WAY that all of those painstaking hours of doc filling and note taking made it into the final draft. Or did it?
As I have begun my second book in the series, a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. I know where this story is going. I know my characters now, the scenes, the setting–I know my story. In the beginning, I was still fumbling through. Ideas striking all the time, waking me up in the night. Blocks that took forever for me to break through. I didn’t know where I was going, or what I was doing in the first draft. I think–I hope–I do now.
So although, every idea I had did not find a place in my final copy, all of those ideas found a place in the overall feel of the story–in the overall drive and forward motion of the story. That brain storming crazed state of mind pushed me to finish my book. All those documents and filled notebooks found their place.
They were worth saving.
After wind, hail and blinding rain, we were left without power for a few hours yesterday. The sun peeked out briefly but not long enough to eliminate the need for candles. Without internet, WordPress or Twitter on my laptop I, of course, went to my iPhone.
Genius. Until I noticed it only had a 10% battery life left and no means of charging. After complaining, to myself, and feeling the heat begin to rise due to no A/C, I sat down and listened to the silence. Without the constant sounds of technology ringing in the background–I found, surprisingly, a little peace.
The stillness in the house didn’t create a flickering of candlelight, only a warm shadowed glow across the surface of my table. As I watched the shadow move slightly, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Silence has a strange power if you just listen and let go.
I wrote with pen and paper in the candlelight and the pressure I’ve placed on myself loosened.
I complain about being stuck and unable to break this wall I’ve built around my WIP. But as I sat and wrote, I realized beating my head against the wall isn’t what this is about. We get so caught up in writing the perfect novel, short story, etc… So caught up in all that surrounds us. All the Noise. The inbox alert, the tweet alert, the phone ringing, the text alert, our blogs and Facebook accounts. It’s so much and it’s no wonder we lose our place, our concentration and…our reason for writing in the first place.
Before realizing my battery was close to dead, I sent out a few tweets from my iPhone. Complaining. Lisa Kilian, a fellow writer, blogger (and editor), tweeted me back. You can find her extremely insightful blog here: Lisa Kilian’s Blog
She said that she wished her power was out. She needed to decompress. Now I know what she meant. If we stop and hear the quiet for just a minute and re-connect with the reason we write, the weight lifts.
Writing isn’t about readers or followers. It isn’t about the number of blog hits or Facebook fans we have. Writing is about us, the writer. You. Me. We write for ourselves because we have something to say. The rest is just bells and whistles. Icing. We can’t use the icing if we haven’t baked the cake.
Let there be light.
I like the prologue. It’s useful. Who cares if no one else reads them? I read them!
In YA, prologues are a no-no, or so everyone says. But they are everywhere. Out of the last few series of books I’ve read, approx. twelve out of fifteen books, had a prologue. So who’s right and who is reading the prologue? Besides me?
I know a lot of readers skip them and move to the action, but sometimes we need that beginning info to further understand the story. Who cares if it’s back story? Some stories, especially those that are historical or move back and forth through time, need back story.
Prologue thoughts? Opinions? Good, bad, don’t care?
This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.
This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything. And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.
This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.
My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.
I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.
Walking away isn’t my plan.
But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.
So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.
I am not a multitasker. At All. Thus, my scattered mind and anti-focusing ability. No I do not have ADHD. People with ADHD probably focus better than I do as of late. I think back on the first six months or so of writing my novel, when all my thoughts were a flowing faucet. When my energy was high and my enthusiasm was higher. When I was positive my story was right on course. I wrote my first draft in three months. The full story. A year later, I’ve rewritten that story probably five times.
I wonder about authors like JK Rowling. She took five years to complete The Sorcerer’s Stone. I wonder how she didn’t lose interest after all that time–how she kept her focus. It’s applaudable really.
Here in the 13th month with my WIP, I am the closest I have been to actually finishing–I’m just not sure how close that is. If I could sit and write for hours like I did in the beginning maybe I would already be done. But the constant questions hanging over my shoulder as I write, quash that possibility. They urge me to look deeper, question more–take longer.
I am trying to embrace my style of writing, find it useful in my progression and learn from it. After all, it is the way I write, frustrating one day, over-exuberant the next. At some point I’ll nail down the ins and outs and reel in the over-bearing devil on my shoulder. In the meantime, I’ll try to embrace what he says instead of fighting him all the time. Or…..I’ll just knock him off;)