9.18.2012

S.O.S.

Oh, hello there.

*dusts off cobwebs*  *sneezes*

Bet you're wondering what super exciting things I've been up to when I haven't been here, yes?  Glad you asked, because here's a handy list:
  • Celebrating my wife's birthday
  • Going to a wedding in Pittsburgh
  • Helping form a critique group
  • Working working working
  • Chopping all my hair off
  • Hanging out with my mom, who's visiting for a week or so
  • Redecorating my house - more painting!  Buying of a new couch!  Searching for accessories!
  • Preparing to NOT die during the 10k I'll be running this weekend
  • Taking ridiculous pictures of my cats
  • Reading reading reading
  • Planning a writer's retreat for myself

(There may have been some TV, naps, and other time-wasters interspersed in there as well, but I prefer to gloss over those for posterity's sake.)

Notice what's not on that list?  Yeah, writing.  Hence the radio silence on the blog - this is supposed to be a sort of record of my writing journey, and, well, checking in to say, "Hey, I've been slacking/uninspired/frustrated/blah/*vomits*" does not make for great reading.  I try to blog when I have something to say, and apparently I don't have much to say lately.

I'd like to blame being busy or overworked or whatever, but the truth is I've just been lazy.  I have time to write - I'm making the choice not to.  (I hate seeing those words, but they're true.)

And now of course I'm facing the inevitable writerly dread, which is to say, it is SO MUCH HARDER to get back into writing when you haven't been doing it regularly.  I want to make writing a daily practice, like some people meditate or pray.  Or that's what I think I want, anyway... my actions would seem to indicate otherwise.

Frustrated/blah/*vomits*

(Fun to read, right?)  :)

Okay, so this is where you come in.  HALP.  I need encouragement, or wisdom, or tips and tricks, or anything you might have to offer.  How do you incorporate writing into your daily life?  How do you ease back in?  How do you stay motivated? 

All thoughts appreciated.  Thank you!!

8 comments:

  1. Anything you have to make yourself do is definitely NOT a pleasure. When the inspiration hits, write...otherwise....don't worry about it.

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    1. Yes - the trick is to find the pleasure more regularly, I guess!

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  2. First off, glad to hear from you! You don't have to write about writing here - blogs are a place to hang out, to sit on your new couch and share ridiculous pictures of your cat. And you always have a unique, honest, sincere outlook on things which, in itself, makes for good writing. But don't look at it as writing! This is where you can play hooky and chat with friends.

    As for feeling guilty about not writing, DON'T DO THAT. It's not only bad for your spirit, but it makes writing seem like this thing you have to do, like homework. Having a set time every day can help with writing, but guilt just makes you resent having to shrug that guilt off your shoulders, day after day. It's wearying. (And no one wants to read homework, anyway.)

    Discipline is a positive way of working towards getting your pages written. Just like your daily run - you might dread having to get your running shoes on some days, but I bet you always feel better once you're out there. Or at least after your run.

    In the same way, a lot of writers don't like writing, they only like having written. And once they start, they find out that it's much better to do it than to feel bad about not doing it.

    All the time I’m not writing I feel like a criminal. It’s horrible to feel felonious every second of the day. It’s much more relaxing actually to work.
    - Fran Lebowitz


    You can read the rest of her interview here.

    http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1931/a-humorist-at-work-fran-lebowitz

    In the end, sometimes the words just aren't there. Willie Nelson used to get scared when this happens, but he said he learned you just need to wait and let the well fill up again.

    But even if the well is flowing over like Old Faithful, and you can't be bothered to grab a bucket, I totally get that. Writing is a strange profession, and you're allowed to be strange about it. :-)

    Finally, one thing I've done recently is started a fantasy story with a friend, where each day we add a couple paragraphs to the story in an e-mail and send it back. The whole purpose of the thing is to simply make each other laugh, and being able to write so freely like that, as a game, is a great way to keep limber and play with writing again. You know, like playing guitars on the back porch, just dubbing about and having fun.

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    1. I just wrote a long response to this that was basically a list of everything you said that was so exactly right. Then I erased it because, uh, you already said it all right up there. :) But I so appreciate this, all of it. As for this here blogspace - thinking of it as a place to hang out instead of a place where I have to... I don't know... *perform* is how I started out, and then somehow I got away from it. But sheesh, you're right! It's a blog, not a sacred text. Cat pictures forthcoming! Heh.

      I think what I've been missing - and what I've been lamenting every time I HAVE been blogging lately - is that feeling of joy that writing used to bring. Before I knew anything about query letters or the indie vs. traditional publishing wars or platform or agents or sales figures or debuts, it was just craft. And I take a lot of pleasure in craft - it's all the extraneous stuff that keeps getting in the way. I don't want it in my head anymore, but I haven't quite figured out how to tune it out yet. In any case, I absolutely love your idea of writing back and forth with a friend, just to make each other laugh. I bet that story is pretty awesome. Annnnd I might have to steal that idea.

      Anyway, thank you for answering my SOS. And especially for this: "Writing is a strange profession, and you're allowed to be strange about it." I'm going to point to that from now on, like a permission slip. ;)

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  3. Hmmm. It sounds to me like you need to live the life you're living because it sounds like a rich, beautiful life. Nothing kills writing faster than feeling the incessant weight of, well, not having written on a regular basis (and then proceeding to vomit.)

    Still, it's nice to hear from you and to know what you're up to. It may be possible that the thing which inspires the steadiest stream of writing is 'a situation' built around a project. For me, in the spring and summer, it was two agents welcoming revisions and being named a finalist in a contest.

    Now, it's different. Now, comes the fall and not just another season for the world but one for me, too. I feel like I have stumbled on/discovered *the project* I am supposed to be working on after four long years of false starts and frustrations.

    Seasons.

    That is all.

    And go, go girl with that 10K!

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    1. Ohhhh, I'm so glad you feel like you've found *the project*! Sending lots of good writing energy your way!

      Seasons. I like it. Now's as good a time as any to change things up, eh? Clearing out the old detritus in a fiery autumn blaze, getting down to the stark bare bones - that's exactly what I need, come to think of it.

      Seasons. Yes.

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  4. To keep motivated/excited, I keep a notebook by my bed. Before I go sleep, I turn to a fresh page and write a question related to my manuscript on the top (usually something about the scene I want to work on the next day). Next morning, before I step one foot out of bed, I grab my notebook and freewrite an answer to the question for five minutes. Usually I've come to some conclusions while I slept that I hadn't thought of before... and new discoveries about the story keep me motivated.

    It sort of primes the pump, that five minutes of rambling scribbles. It builds anticipation to write, I get excited about the scene and it keeps it on my mind however many hours it will be between when I wake and when I sit down at the keys.

    Good luck with the 10K! And with all that other good stuff. Love redecorating!

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  5. Wow, it sounds like you have been busy, Jes! So there's really no need to apologize for not writing -- to us or to yourself. Sometimes all you can do is live at the speed of life and just try to hang on, you know?

    It's different for every writer I think -- some thrive on deadlines, pressure, and rigorous schedules, while others cringe and dry up at "gottas" and only feel free to create when it becomes a "wanna."

    I'm somewhere in the middle. I need goals, but I also seem to be more productive when I allow some flexibility for the writing to call me rather than to having to push it.

    Sometimes it helps to break up the goals. Maybe it works better for you if you don't put yourself under the pressure of writing a big, huge thing ("My ground-breaking NOVEL!") -- write just one scene, and don't worry about the next. Even your 10k (and best of luck!!!) is really just a series of runs of a single step.

    It sounds to me like you got so many time-crunch 'gottas' you've inserted into your life (work, new house, travel, visitors, 10k training), that you're balking at making writing another one. And that's understandable -- writing is a chore, but it's also a chance for freedom of thought, and artistic outlet, and joyful expression. I don't think making it even MORE rigorous is going to help you. It'll just lead to more self-loathing, frustration, and vomit. No-one wants that.

    I think that unless you can cut back on all the other structured requirements in your life right now, you need to keep writing as a freedom, a release, an unscheduled free-to-be-me outlet. And see it as such. No pressure, no 'gotta'.

    You may find that, freed from all the pushing of self-imposed deadlines and goals, writing will start to be a calling again.

    It's worth at least a try.

    If not, you can always still try the forced, hyper-structured BITC ("Butt In The Chair") method -- at least 15 minutes per day, at a pre-scheduled time, each and every day, even if you just sit there and write your name 1000 times over...

    It works for some people, but I think you got enough of those kinds of mandates in your life already.

    Good luck and best wishes!!!!

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