Tag Archives: clarity

Pushing It

Something that gets faced a lot in physical sports and activities is that line of “can I keep going on this pain/annoyance, or should I slow down to recover?” It is something I’ve struggled with in running when I up the ante, and it seems to translate to writing in different ways.

You know the days, slow, sluggish, your head is cloudy and you can’t get the picture right. There’s too much fuzz on your mental television and you can’t tune it in just right to see correctly. Maybe it’s just a bad day, or you’re out of sorts, but you still need to get your writing done for the day, and you do still want to make progress on something.

Except, you can’t. You’re stalled out mentally. So when do you keep pushing, to try and make something happen, and when do you call it a mental health day and walk away from it until you can see better?

When it becomes an all-out struggle, I stop, to breathe and try to calm down. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like you can’t get any details right. Likewise, it’s hard to get anything right when you’re flustered. I’ve had a BIG problem with this recently, and it’s the cause of a few month-long pause on a project I’ve been wanting to work on very badly.

Funks and grooves are easy to get into sometimes, when things have been thrown off, but the best thing to do sometimes is to wait until it feels okay. Do what you can to alleviate some frustration, whether it be outlining or getting fresh ideas for the scene, or rethinking what you’ve done so far. Don’t count yourself out completely.

Then there are times where you force yourself to finish it, no matter what, you have to get to the finish line. The point here is that you can go back and revise what you did. You can even re-write it, if you really feel like you have to, but if there’s a need for you to finish now, don’t worry about revision. Write. Come back to it later, look it over, you may yet like what you wrote when your head’s a bit more clear.

In some situations, forcing it to happen may make it worse. It can get you to put characters in situations you don’t like, or say things that aren’t true to their personalities, and the list goes on. Complications feed complications, and sometimes it’s easier to see what’s going wrong, and others can be harder to tell.

If it’s mild, try to do what you can, but you know your limits best. Don’t make something happen if it doesn’t feel right. It’s okay to take breaks. Up against a deadline? Pause, breathe, and go forward as you can.

If it’s severe, it’s better to reset your head. Wait for it. Take it slow.

What I hear a lot of is that taking rest days from an injury often deters training for a race. It’s the same in that, if you have a deadline with your publisher or a personal deadline to reach, having to stop creates a lot of stale chaos for you. Bury yourself in “homework:” if you can’t write, read, or watch a movie related to what you’re writing, or a television show. Something will come up. Something will spark.

Everything takes time, though. Pace yourself. Relax. Look at what’s going on and see what the best course of action is. Don’t panic, there’s a way. There always is.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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Clarity versus Calamity

Extremes can provide a lot of insight. When there’s nothing but chaos, you have strong thoughts that stand out among the rest, and when all is calm and the waters are steady, it’s hard to miss the one or two things that dare to stir up the waves.

Distractions are the fuel of chaos. They are loud noises from the television or family, surrounding you no matter what part of the building or house you’re in, they’re things happening outside, or a conversation in the other room that demands your attention because of how loud the person is on one end. They’re the thirty tabs you have open in your browser, or the game that’s been begging you to play it for the past few days, not to mention the little apps on your phone that you can’t ignore, or friends texting constantly…

Above all, it’s the noise in your head that you can’t turn down.

Some people thrive in the calamity. They can pick out an idea and run with it, letting the other noise help them to a speedy finish. A phrase that goes, “the story writes itself,” can happen in either the calmest time or the most chaotic. Tuning out the noise can either help or hurt, but either way, finding a way to hear your thoughts is always the same.

This happens more often than not lately for me, and my go-to fix for it has been to plug in music and drown out the noise, and force myself to focus, even if it means sacrificing attention to something else (family member, more often than not, only if it’s not inappropriate).

Clarity and calm, after being elusive, is a welcome retreat from the chaos that may have erupted around you. When the noise is so loud in your head that you can’t calm it down enough to focus, enough to sit and write something out, it’s hard to get much of anything done when it’s not mindless work.

In the middle of it all, you may find something easier to write. Your thoughts, some random, rapid-fire brainstorming, but nothing you have to force, something that may come easily. That little bit of saving grace among the pots banging and the thoughts clashing that goes on in your mind can come from simple things, typically.

Days like this are mercifully rare for me, but when they come, they wreck havoc. Distractions, however, are very healthy, though at work, writing is the distraction, especially when firemen run into the building because of the fire panel going off. For others, loudly singing roommates and bright, rather obnoxious and simple shows make it very difficult to get any focus or work done.

This post is late because of distractions and personal trouble writing, so thank you for bearing with me (even if you haven’t). Also, happy 50th post! Yay!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Uncertainty

Focus is shot, relaxation is really scarce right now and I can’t just sit down and come up with thoughts that aren’t all over the place.

Days like this affect everything, and sometimes it’s more than just a day. You scramble to come up with something, you’re searching all over for something that can help you think better and get your head together, and you turn up with empty hands and more frustration. To call it a bad day would be taking credit away from the good things that have happened, but it’s hard not to when all you can seem  to do is swat at thoughts as they race through your head.

I don’t have a cure for this, still, but sitting down and listening to music has helped before. When you force yourself to just get out what’s in your head, sometimes it can be more successful than others. You want to write something specific before, but then when you shake out your head, there’s a specific something that’s stuck, that you can really let go about.

If you can afford it, don’t worry about certain writing obligations on days like these. And if you can write at all, do it to your heart’s content, whatever can be shook out. Grab hold of whatever you can and don’t let go until it’s all gone.

Just in case you find your head too hectic to actually write, don’t. Forcing it isn’t going to be enjoyable or even yield very many results, and if anything, it’ll make things more sluggish, taking longer.

It’s been hard trying to come up with something today, one of those days for me. I’ve gone through several good topics and came up with just about nothing until now, but there’s nothing I can do but ride it out. Tomorrow will be better. I’ll have a clearer head, one that’s not just running wild with ideas and thoughts and what have you about everything else going on in my life.

Don’t be afraid to take days like these off and return to writing when you can. It’s so much better when you have clarity. At least, in my opinion, though I’m sure there are those that thrive in the calamity.

I am, however fortunately or unfortunately, not one of them.

-The Novice Wordsmith