Tag Archives: frustration

Recovery

The past couple of Decembers have been the same for me in that I usually take them to do less writing than I did in November. After writing 50k+ words in a single month, even if I’m in love with the piece, I need a break.

Whether it’s hours on a game or watching movies, shows, and doing something mindless, or maybe reading, I indulge all sorts of different stimuli. Though I still manage to write– trying to keep up daily– it dwindles in quantity by a bit to accommodate my tiredness. Whatever it takes to recoup.

Which, after looking at it that way, sounds a lot like burnout. And that is a dangerous, awful little devil thing, but it happens, and sometimes it’s hard to avoid.

Setting my hands down is a hard thing to do. Keeping myself from running because I’ve pushed too hard a few days in a row is also very difficult, but they are the same in essence: recovery. You need to pause and rebuild to be able to go again.

Another thing is being able to write other stuff, which, NaNoWriMo, unless you decide to do more than one 50k novel a piece, then you’re stuck for 30 days with an idea, no matter how much you like it. That on its own can be a huge drain. Not having the pure freedom to move around and do something else feels like a lock, even if, like I said, you really enjoy the topic: sometimes you just have to let your mind wander elsewhere.

Days of frustration and restlessness and calamity and loud and blocked off can also be lumped in the category of things to recover from, though, from my experience, those take much less time. Bad days can still have an effect, and sometimes you just need to keep from pushing.

If you ask me, however, getting over writer’s block can be as simple as filling your head with new stimuli or as difficult as trying to figure out how to keep from feeling like writing is a huge chore. I have absolutely had friends who spent months not writing because they couldn’t get over their block, and part of me still wonders if they were even trying.

Some of these options require work, and some don’t. It depends on what ails you, really. It also depends on what you want to do.

I know I will never be part of the group that simply waits out the block instead of doing something about it, though, and I am very okay with that. As long as I get time to kick back when I don’t have to be in a frenzy.

-The Novice Wordsmith

When at First You Fail, Try Again, and Again, and Again…

I think I may have touched on this at some point in the past, but I wanted to expand a little bit more because I find myself in this situation, unfortunately, more than I like to admit.

Being bored with what you’re writing, stalling out, avoiding it, not being sure where to go from that point, is not near the worst feeling I get about a story, but it’s still frustrating. You stare at the screen, or you do all sorts of other work, tab out, look at other sites, instead of writing. And then you look at the clock and sigh and realize how much time you’ve wasted not writing. This is especially bad for NaNoWriMo because every minute in the day is absolutely crucial. Or, when you’ve got a deadline due.

Nothing is quite as flustering as having to make the most of your time and yet not being able to go forward.

The best advice in this situation, for me, has been a phrase about perspective, how if you change yours, then you’ll see a situation differently. It’s something used most often with fights and controversy, but it works too for writing, I’ve found.

Desiree sighed as she stared up at the large rock wall. 

The sentence makes you pause and stare and eventually you’re looking somewhere else for entertainment than your own writing. You become stuck because something put you in a corner that you’re trying to get out of, but there’s no way out that you like.

So look at it from a different angle. What was Desiree doing when she got to the rock wall? How long did it take her to get ready, what else was going on prior to this moment that maybe you could expand upon?

It took her longer than she wanted to get ready, but she could still feel the nerves and jitters about climbing the wall.

You have more of a way out here. There are other things to talk about past the first sentence and more ways to transition through to the actual task at hand that you want to write about.

Don’t let a single view throttle your ambition or your story. Experiment, look around, try to find different ways to go about it. When you limit yourself to a single path, you find yourself less satisfied than you would if you had several options, and, again, you trap yourself.

If it’s not a reflective or slow part of the story, instead fast paced, and maybe action packed, the same still applies, but let’s go with a different example.

Bernard took in a deep breath and leaned back against the wall, trying hard to keep himself quiet. 

The same happens here where you lose interest. Some may not. You might look at it and just find yourself stopped. Stuck, caught up in something else and disinterested all of a sudden. It may be what he’s doing instead of how you write it in this case, that you can’t see yourself writing him in a way that has him forcing himself to be quiet.

What can he do differently? Do you see him fighting back, reloading his blaster/rifle, or is he trying to get the emergency back up?

There are always a lot of possibilities, and ideas are everywhere. Don’t write things off immediately, give yourself a chance to try different things, to see what may or may not work. With limited time, you may not have the ability to take a break like you want, but you can still refresh your head and get back in the game if you cycle through other options.

Don’t let the story defeat you, you own the story. Show it who’s boss. 😉

– The Novice Wordsmith

Out of Sync

Korielle sighed as she leaned back, running a hand through her hair and crossing one long, lean leg over the other in a show of seduction. “I guess I’ll just have to–

Crumple, erase, backspace until it’s gone. Sigh, stare at the screen or paper, purse of the lips. Wait. Think. Try again.

She looked out of the window with a forlorn expression, despite letting the jacket fall off her shoulders and showing long expanses of bare arms. “I’ll find a way,” she said. “I alwa–

“Dammit,” sigh, stand up, walk around, wait. Stare. Think. Wonder.

Being out of sync with your character or story is not only one of the most frustrating things you can encounter, but it’s hard to find where you are on the line that separates, “I should step back and wait,” and, “I need to hunker down and figure this out.” You know something is wrong, but how do you re-align yourself with your hero again to finally see what they really want to do?

Or… Is it more than that? Are they the ones acting out of character? Is there no other way for them to feel for this scene, where they want to jump the bones of another despite your wanting the scenario to go a different direction?

I’ve experienced both, really; where a character runs into a situation head on that I never expected, and it turns into something bigger than I could have imagined, and on the same token, I’ve created bad circumstance simply because I wasn’t so with it on that day. I’ve scrutinized a piece of writing over and over until I’ve felt it was right.

I’m reminded of a small piece of advice I learned, of little mistakes. “Just run with it.” It’s not so easy some times, though, when you have to be conscious of what’s better for the story or not. Smaller things can be passed off, but the bigger things take a lot of consideration, and some days, it’s harder to tell what lines up and what would make a better story.

As I’ve said I don’t know how many times, it’s difficult to take a step back. Forcing things often can make them worse, but letting things alone and just waiting for them to settle can take time and patience that even saints don’t have. Well, maybe not so much patience, but it does take a lot to be able to accept that you need to set your hands down, maybe watch a movie or play a game, do some other work, and just let your head reset for what you’ve been working on.

Seeing that you aren’t writing a character to par can be the first sign of that, too. Doubting yourself makes it worse, and then you keep digging and trying to make something work and it’s just frayed ends and bad wires. Don’t overwork it. Doing too much can make things worse, too.

Sometimes, after being able to find the voice of the character well enough, glancing back at what you were hedging on before might provide you with new ideas and an expansion to the one you had come up with when things weren’t all lined up.

One thing I’ve found that helped me recently was doing practice-writes, putting two characters together and just feeling out the scene without really intending to get anywhere. Such as Friday’s post said, don’t edit anything, no revisions, just write. If you need the practice, if you feel like you’re not getting the voice right, having a quick, easy scenario can sometimes be best for a writing-equivalent rough sketch.

The best part about being out of sync with your slew of characters is that it’s temporary. It just takes time away and some searching, but usually it doesn’t last too long and you’re back in the game. I’ve found that the best is not to force something that isn’t able to go te way you want it to.

– The Novice Wordsmith

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

“Holy Sh–!”

Suspense can be damn near frustrating when you’re reading, or especially watching a movie. You see the main character getting beaten to a pulp and you’re left feeling upset for them, willing them to get up and fight again. “Why? What the hell is even going on? What’s the point?” 

The story is the point. Finding out why they are being put through their steps, but the biggest thing to remember is that, most often, with all stories, there is a point at all. It lends to development, to the bigger picture and the lessons that the story teaches not only to the character but the messages it gives to the reader. 

Though, thinking of messages reminds me of school, where you’d tear the story apart and pick at the bones for something that may or may not be there. Novels, movies, short stories, novellas, they all have parts of the author in them, and the full dimensions of the character that you’re looking over the shoulder of from point A to point B. The curtain color, or the way that the Irish hunk says milk, does not always mean something. Sometimes, it can. It can be a reminder of something or an inside joke. 

Writing with someone else controlling the story line, you see something different: your character is being led to a specific point. No matter the character’s frustration, they will be pulled to a certain scene. 

On chance that you miss the scene you’re going for, run with it. There will be another chance. In the meantime, ride the wave and see where it takes you. You’ll get back to where you wanted to go, but now you have another experience in your pocket!

When writing these scenes yourself, though, consider what you want for the character. Think about their development, where they’re going and what the end is for them, in the story, or in their life. If you don’t like something, or if you can’t see it happening well, or at all, don’t do it. Do not do anything you don’t like. 

There have been a few shows I’ve seen that do things to their characters without much of a reason. It ruins the story and the personal story of the character. It seems pointless. Avoid that like the plague. If it gives more definition, by all means, go for it. If not, try to hold back. 

If you want the suspense to be there, still providing some exclamation point moments, make sure the character or characters can bounce back. You like the thrill of something happening, but don’t know how it can be countered or one-upped? You can make weak points and find others that will be the downfall. There is always a way. 

Also, I will admit I’ve been watching an action adventure movie while writing this… It helps. 😉 

-The Novice Wordsmith