Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Writing Slump

For those of you who don’t know, I’m turning the big 3-0 this year. I’m being a little bit cliche and have made a list of 30 things to do before (ish) my birthday in June. One of these things is to write. It’s been at least two years since I’ve really sat down and written anything for my personal enjoyment. So I decided to challenge myself to write a short story. It doesn’t have to “end” at a short story but I’d like to hit that mark starting off.

It’s been six months since I made this resolution. I’m an expert at procrastination so I will share some of my “excuses” with you in the hopes that you, dear readers and fellow bloggers, can help me overcome them.

1) I write for a living. Every day from 9 to 6 I am writing for a marketing company (about automobiles). So by the end of the day the last thing I want to do is boot up my laptop and put my fingers back to the keys.

2) I need to read. I read so much and have such a large TBR pile that writing consistently gets pushed to the back burner in the search for the next best story.

3) I’m overwhelmed. I have possibly 3 different stories in my head and don’t know which one to start with or really where to start.

4) I’m critical of myself. I’ve always been my own worst critic and in the case of writing that mentality usually stops me before I even start.

So, here’s my call for help. Help!!! I need some guidance from my peers on this one. Where does your drive come from? How do you discipline yourself? Where does your inspiration come from? Any tips, tricks, suggestions will be helpful and welcome! Thanks in advance.


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I just read a blog post today that quoted Robert Heinlein’s rules of writing.

You must write.
You must finish what you write.

If you can do that, you're golden. Focus on what you can do, not what you can't.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Some math: a nice length for a novel is 100,000 words. If you wrote 273 words a day, at the end of a year you'd have a full length novel. With few exceptions I've never sat down to start writing and written less than 300 words. So (and I'm not being cute here) if you take the time to sit down and write once a day, every day, you'll have a full novel at the end of a year. Or a short story in somewhere between 10-66 days. And, of course, the real trick is that if you get started, it'll probably be hard to stop at 300 words. So, it sounds trite, but give it a shot. Maybe make it the first thing you do when you get into the office if you don't have someone looking over your shoulder at work? Or get up an hour earlier? I cranked out a novel in 2013 using this method, so I know it works.

Mary Fan said...

I'm not the best at giving advice, but here's my stab...

1) Compartmentalize. Fiction writing is an entirely different animal from marketing writing (I work in marketing too). Take a break after work to recharge and separate the two parts of your day, then have a set time to start your second job (for me, it's usually 8 or 9PM, which gives me a nice 2-hour cushion to switch gears). Then, no matter what else is going on, just write! The world can spare you for an hour or so :-)

2) Audiobooks are your friend! My commute's only about half an hour each way, but that's still an hour of reading each day (which comes out to about two books a month, which is two more than I'd be reading during my book-slumps if I didn't have my audiobooks). They also make time pass a lot faster when you're doing chores...

3) Roll a die to pick one, and just go at it. If it takes off, fantastic! If you keep finding yourself drawn toward one of the others, then clearly, this one isn't the one your heart's set on, so eliminate it from the list of possibilities and move on to the one your imagination's clamoring for.

4) Everyone's first draft is complete and utter crap, so don't even worry about quality. Think of a book as a clay statue... before you can start molding it into something pretty and painting it with pretty colors, you have to make the muddy, icky, kinda gross-looking clay, which is the first draft part. Also, wine does wonders for silencing that irritating mental red pen...

Good luck with your writing! May the Force be with you :-)

Debra Renée Byrd said...

Well, I'm on your boat. I'm on a computer all day, so the last thing I want to do is even look at my laptop. Your post made me think, though, that maybe I should start buying notebooks and using them again. In my teen years, that was all I needed until there was a computer in our house.

Carrie Beckort said...

There are a lot of good suggestions here that I may have to use myself! I hope you find something that works for you, Tara!

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