Tag Archives: writers block

Camp in July: Motivation Stops Here

Camp Nanowrimo has famously been difficult for me, except for a couple of times. I do this to myself, of course, over and over, because I must be a masochist. Really, I’m just ambitious. After finding my groove with an older story again, wanting to finish and spurred on by my great energy with the revision of my erotica in April, I picked up where I left off.

And got firmly stuck in the mud, days later.

This has had to be my worst month. I didn’t really keep track of wordcount. I could barely get myself to write every day. I was avoiding the camp website. It was sticky and awful and kind of depressing, to be honest.

I was also having the hardest time trying to figure out why it was so hard for me. When I know there’s a goal in sight, I’m usually steadfast toward it, and make great strides and bounds. This time it was like my neck was craned back, staring up at a billboard that I thought was too high to climb, with a ladder right in front of me.

I refused to think it was motivation. I’ve wanted to write and finish this novel so badly. Inspiration was all there, I knew how to tap into more, how to get my mind going.

But there it was, at the eye of the storm. I wanted to write but I didn’t want to. Were my ideas good enough, was I making enough sense? Had I really read through the more crucial chapters again and actually gotten a feel for what was going on, so I knew the tone to start off with? How was my pacing?

Every question just came at me. I didn’t want to accept it, but I couldn’t deny it, either.

More commonly known as Writer’s Block, it sucks. And sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about it but let it pass and relax and not worry until it leaves you the hell alone. Trying to force it away may or may not do something for you.

Even now, I’m having a hard time getting through this. I question my credibility and my ability and whether or not I’m getting off topic or staying on track. Everything is questioned, because I don’t know if I should trust myself or not just by plowing through something. Quieting those questions can be harder because there’s always a nag at the back of your head wondering if you’re doing it right, and that you don’t want to have to overhaul it completely…

It’s the Hot Mess Express, and I’m the conductor, apparently.

But it makes sense, when I think about it boiling down to trust. Trusting myself and what I do and how I do it makes me less likely to move forward. Friend has been having a particularly nasty case of writer’s block as well, where he’s very uncertain of himself. Along the same lines, where he wants it to look good and be a long, great read, but it’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot for him to live up to with every piece and he’s not trusting himself to simply write and come up with something, at all, that’s readable.

The big hurdle here is to let go of all of those insecurities and just do it. Forget everything holding you down and just go. But that is much easier said than done.

Hopefully my NaNoWriMo experience won’t be this terrible. I’m looking to do just as well as last year, if not better. I just have to find a story I want to write…

-The Novice Wordsmith

 

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Guest Post: Getting By With a Little Help from My Friends

Writing a blog is a daunting task. Everyone and anyone can have a good idea, but past the initial ‘hey this is cool’ aura, a public blog lives and dies by its readership and authorship. But not in the way you might think.
Authors are driven by two opposing forces; writing and being read.

Some of us are heavily on the ‘writing’ side, where we can churn out mountains of text, some of it looking like snowy peaks, and others like coal mines with smoke pouring out of them, or the occasional volcano of a novel that blows up in the middle and spews ashen destruction everywhere.

Others are deeply moved to write by a need to  share writing with other people. To teach, to entertain, to be loved for your art of the amazing prose.

Writers block hits both types just as hard.

For a writer-side person, all it takes is a good kick of inspiration.

For a read-me type person, a little outside help is what’s helpful.

So here ya are, Novice Wordsmith.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to read your work, and to inspire you to write things. No matter what you do with this blog, you will always be a writer, and you will always have a fan in me, as long as I can see, and tell you just how far you’ve come along from where you were writing story fragments and leaning on cliches to where you are now, spinning worlds and universes and coming up with ideas and plot twists on the spur of a moment. I love the fact that you’ve chosen to share your love of writing with the rest of the universe of the ‘net, whether they care or not; you want to show others that writing is for everyone, writing is a passion, and with passion comes power.

Everyone has a novel inside of them. Whether finished or not, the more important part is the Idea, the Character, the constant Struggle to Succeed that they go through, and life — yours in particular — is a novel that is unfinished. You’re writing the hard chapter now, where the heroine is at loose ends and looking at a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in front of her.

In the novel, the hero or heroine can’t always solve things on their own. You learned as a writer to develop good supporting characters, whether foils, confidantes, staunch allies, comic relief, or constant reminders of why they do what they do.

You learned that obstacles make you stronger when you defeat them – and the hero or heroine (almost) always succeeds in the end by …what?

NEVER GIVING UP.

I’ve written blogs before. Advice blogs. Writing blogs. Ways to help me connect with friends and strangers, and strangers who became friends. Eventually I left those blogs behind, but they’re still there, as a reminder of who I was then, who I met at that time, and a smile or twenty of good memories because I lived through that part of the story, and though the folks I crossed paths with there have moved on, and so have I, sometimes I peek back at what I’ve done and remember. And say…

“…I wrote THAT?”

Exercise of whether it was good or bad is up to the reader. Hindsight is everything, concentration is often what’s lacking, and inspiration comes of being able to accept that not all ideas look good on the surface, but sometimes start as obnoxiously ugly first drafts.

And sometimes, as you’ve found, it takes a little help from a friend to get things going again. Of being able to fall back to where you were before you were this awesome, giving yourself permission to be bad for a little while so you can find the good parts in the brain-muck that is writer’s block.

Some of the best novels have come out of horrible ideas.

Some of the worst novels started out amazing but ran out of steam or premise.

Some of them have even been published.

Quit worrying about being perfect today. That’s what editing is for.

Give yourself permission to write badly. But write something. Nobody judges painters when they create misshapen faces, bleeding clocks, or crayon drawings — some of them even get paid for it, too. Perhaps you’re trying to beat out the writing of some literary idol you aspire to be like, and you shouldn’t — because they have editors too.

Wordsmith, you have people who like your stuff here. And others will find it in time. For being someone who doesn’t market herself much at all, you have a following — and even if they aren’t a legion, it only takes one fan to make you realize that someone likes your stuff.

Hi. Can I be your number one fan?

Whether you accept it or not, I’m here to help you out (for her amazing fans, I’m giving her a break so she can get her writing chops back under her — don’t worry, she’ll be back, but you could speed up the process by leaving her a note or giving her a like or something….).

Beware! I am invading your blog with bizarre ideas that are not your own!

…um… prompt, please?

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

Walking Around the Writer’s Block

The irony of this post for me right now is that I’ve spent so many hours trying to figure out how to write it, if I should, and if not, what should I write instead. For that reason, it’s a perfect candidate, and I’ll use it as an example.

There are plenty of reasons why one gets writer’s block in the first place. It’s a lack of motivation in what’s up next, it’s apprehension for tackling it initially, or it’s not knowing what to do or say, if the style you’re using is the right one, or if your word choice could use work. It’s worry, either too much or not enough, not being excited enough about what to do or not having enough of an idea of where to go.

For me, I have to have an outline of where I’m going, I have to have a clue. When I finally sit down, I want to know where the words are going to take me, to see the outline, to know how vague it is and what kind of limits I have or don’t have. Sometimes, giving me carte blanche  is overwhelming, and other times, it’s like giving me a playground and telling me that I don’t have a curfew and that it’ll be bug-free after the sun goes down.

I have the pleasure this month of writing a story with my best friend for the Camp Nanowrimo* event. The problem here is that we’re two totally different writers when we have a month of daily writing ahead of us. He’s what you’d call a “panster,” or someone who writes the story as it comes to him, and I have to have as much organization and outlining as I possibly can. What happened in the beginning of the month was that I stalled out, to a point, that when the clock started, where I usually start sprinting, I walked at a light pace, because I didn’t know what was ahead of me.

My comfort level is such that I find a block, a halting point, when I don’t know where I’m going. For others, especially my friend, it’s no problem. Though I’ll admit that as soon as I had a basic starting point, I went with it, and we have yet to fall into a huge plot hole (thankfully).

Other signs of writer’s block definitely include feeling like writing is a chore. When it gets to that point, look for other ideas of how to handle the situation that you’re dealing with. What is the character going through, is there a better way to do it? Is there a way that would be less detrimental, is the difficulty in the fact that you don’t like the idea, or because you’re not sure how to start it?

Getting overwhelmed is easy, too, if you have a huge project ahead of you. Such in the case of exam week, “I have so much to do, I think I’ll go take a nap.” Take the nap, though, relax, and try to break it into smaller segments, do what you can to make the big thing less scary, so you can give it a hug and keep moving through the story.

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was just starting to get more serious about writing was to “just write.” I was originally very worried that I wasn’t going to be able to put visualization to what I had in my head correctly, and I shied away from writing for a long while for that reason. The best thing to do is to get it out any way you can, even if it’s small, a short scene with a couple of lines of dialogue.

In example; I’d had a scene in my head from January that kept prodding me. The problem with getting it out was that there was nowhere to go with it. It was a simple scene of one character saying something to another in a desert, but what made it stand out was the intensity between them, and what brought them together.

What I graced over lightly earlier was that my issue with finally getting this post out was that I couldn’t figure out what to say. I didn’t know how to say it or what sort of tone was going to be appropriate. I tried to make a very flowery entrance work for a couple of hours, and then promptly gave up for something more casual. I’m mostly certain people would rather read something by someone who speaks in a way they can relate to than someone who goes on in the most poetic way possible. Which, by the way, is the furthest thing from natural for me on a regular basis.

Whatever your poison is, there’s an antidote for you, whether it’s finding other ways to go about your scene or scenes, taking a break, or pushing forward. All it takes is a little effort, and some desire to keep going.

– The Novice Wordsmith

* Camp Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is an event that takes place in two months out of the year, in spring/summer, dedicated to revisions and writing whatever your heart desires, you set the goal. http://campnanowrimo.org