Tag Archives: break

Guest Post: No Mountain is High Enough

Sometimes when Novice Wordsmith and I write, we try and beat a wordcount bar; whether it’s the 50K of NaNoWriMo or some other arbitrary number, it’s a goalpost to shoot for.

I’ve had years where I’ve done really well, pushing 100K words, and other times where I barely made it over the bar.
But like the climbers that just finished a 19-day free climb of El Capitan, the reasons for doing it are to have a direction to climb.    What we find sometimes is that a story can’t be quantified by ‘X words’ — it demands more.  A short story becomes a novella; a novel becomes a trilogy, because ones words just can’t be contained by a wordcount _limit_.
Similarly, at times the words just don’t come.   They’re lodged in our unconscious writers’ block of iced out ideas, and we just stare at the blinking cursor or blank page and nothing happens.  We start stressing because time is ticking, and our wordcount average is falling behind.
And yet we’re capable of superhuman authoring bursts of thousands of words in a single day — when the story demands it.   When the time is short.   The ‘right’ way to win NaNo is to meet or beat your daily average, since there is a defined ‘stop’ time at the end of the month, but for me, once November is over, I used to stop writing no matter where I was in the month.
Fifty thousand, sixty thousand, fifty four thousand two hundred and one — it didn’t matter.  I’d stop cold, and say, “I’m taking a break from this.”
The mountain of words was too high.
But the thing is, not everyone can reach the summit of a novel.   Sometimes the avalanche of words comes crashing down and you think your novel is a confused mess of words without resemblance to the perfect climbing path, with waypoints and scene interludes just _gone_, and you don’t know what to do next.
Other times, the way is clear, the steps to get from point A to point B are crystal clear in your head and make it onto the page — or you discover an even better route to the top of the peak — that ability to place that ‘Finished/The End’ flag there with triumph, and you can look back down at the beginning of the novel and go, ‘wow.  I wrote all that?’
But really, don’t see your novel and your writing as one mountain.   There are several large mountains in the world that people attempt to climb every day; there are also small hills, rocky outcroppings, and the tricky climbing wall of haiku or a screenplay to tackle.   Every person’s writing ascent is different, done for their own rationale and reasons (or lack thereof) and finding what challenges you to keep writing — and your wordcount climbing — is something you find within, rather than without.
Moreover, whether you’re at the top or at the bottom, you should always be looking to the horizon, to see what the next mountain in your path might be.

Burnout and Frustration

Today’s small post is brought to you by the Wordsmith’s crunched schedule and an amount of time that feels limited but isn’t really.

I have been running on fumes the past week-ish. After trying to get over a sinus infection, which then got worse, I’ve been struggling against a sickness-induced apathy. I’ve felt drained and out of it for a couple of days now, and I’m not entirely sure how else to combat it other than curling up in bed and waiting until I’m ready to tackle things again.

It’s hard to have days like these, and I’ve talked about it before, taking a break, stepping away for a little bit, getting some room to breathe, but I hate when they come up. I feel like I’m not doing enough, if I’m not being productive, something is wrong, and I’m only perpetuating the problem. I need to write and get into things and I’m struggling again between two story ideas I wanna do for November and I’m making progress there but I feel like I haven’t sunk my teeth in completely yet.

Speaking of November, if you’re interested and you haven’t checked it out already, NaNoWriMo.org just updated this morning for 2014, so you can put in your info and get ready for the next month! Woo!

Tomorrow will be better. It’s been a gross, wet day and I’m all out of wisdom for right now, but tomorrow, it’ll be there. At least, I hope.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Danger: Motivation Critically Low

I’ve been trying to avoid the elephant in the room, but it’s been ever more on my mind the more I get closer to the date.

Today was going to be perfect, I had a great post I wanted to get out and write on, something I was going to make sure was filled with every thought I had on the topic. It was going to be wise and beautiful and everything I wanted it to be.

And then I was reminded about an anniversary I never wanted to acquire in the first place.

I’m not one to talk about my personal life too much on this blog. It’s typically about writing and what I’ve learned from it in the past couple of years. The obvious lessons and the subtle ones. It’s about things that have changed my life and how I write, what my style is like and how I do what I do.

But today it’s about the fact that I’m too depressed to write much of anything. Originally, it was going to be about that, too, that I’ll be taking a bit of a break this week and coming back as soon as possible. I was afraid that taking a break was going to mess up my groove of posting so much, but this week… I need the time. I need to just be able to not have commitments, because it’s going to be difficult to keep them.

I’ll try and write as much as I can anyway; the depression shouldn’t last more than just the week. It’s like a heavy rock weighing me down right now, but I can keep on, it’s just hard to.

Suppose there’s something in that, though. I try to see something in all of what I experience, how it affects my writing, what perspective or view it gives differently. When you have a heavy anniversary coming up, particularly one from a familial death or a personal tragedy, there’s a lot that can go through your mind. The worst that you can do for yourself is bottling it up. Talk to someone. Write it out and send it to yourself, file it away in something private. Do something with it, don’t let it fester.

I figured that would be best, to talk about the event, but there’s that feeling that’s just telling me not to tell that story yet. So instead, I’ll just say it’s hard to handle. The first anniversary is the worst and the hardest, but I’ve gotten through all the other milestones of a year, holidays, birthdays. I know how to handle them now, but they’re going to suck.

If you read this, thank you. If you understand, thank you even more.

-The Novice Wordsmith