March 11, 2014 · 8:29 am
…that Chuck Wendig speaks the pure terrifying truth (often, but particularly today) — The Varied Emotional Stages of Writing a Book. Everything Is Nuclear Dogshit. I Should Not Be a Writer and My Soul Is Forfeit. The Blank Page Is a Terrifying Polar Expanse Where I Will Die.
But the alternative is not trying anymore, and that’s… no. Not an option.
So send a Saint Bernard with some good whiskey; I’m going to brave the slopes.
November 8, 2013 · 10:19 am
I think we should see other people. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me, and I think we’ve both grown and learned a lot over the years, but it’s just not working out the way it used to. I’m sure you can see my enthusiasm flagging. The excitement just isn’t there for me anymore; I keep feeling like a failure. I think it’s best to just stop now, while we can still be friends. I hope you understand.
There are things I do still like about NaNo, but the more I struggle with it the more I feel like my peg just isn’t cut out for this hole ifyouknowwhatimean. The discipline of “write every day” is useful and important; the idea that the only way out of a block is through, also important. But too much else about it is arbitrary in a way that does me more harm than good. It’s an imaginary deadline for a form that doesn’t come easily to me at a pace that I can’t sustain consistently. The timing during the year is terrible (and no, I don’t subscribe to the party line that making it more inconvenient adds to the excitement). The tracking tools on the website wind up demoralizing me further — “I wrote 1200 words today! Now I’m… further behind than I was yesterday, shit.”
So. Thanks for all the fish, NaNo, but I really think I need a process that fits my life and patterns better.
Right now I’m poking at HabitRPG again, which I wandered away from a few months ago while they worked out some crippling bugs, but is now functional and comes with a mobile app. I’ve been a gamer for the last decade or so (yes, I got started late) and the idea of getting POINTS for doing stuff has gotten wired into my brain pretty well. So now I have Dailies to do on Habit: take my meds, go to my job, go to the gym on certain days, and write 500 words. I have to do those things or imaginary pixel me will lose hit points, oh no! 500 is much lower than the NaNo pace. MUCH lower. But that’s the point where I’m setting the stick for my carrot/stick routine. Because in the Habit column (along with things like “cook real dinner” and “take out trash” and “write blog entry”) there is another “write 500 words.” The first 500 words of any given day go in the Daily requirement, just keeping writer-me healthy. But if I do 1000 words I get to click the one in the other column and earn bonus points. If I do 1500 words in one day I can get a second helping of bonus points. One stick, potentially endless carrots.
Whoops, just summed up the blog post in five words there. I’m a perfectionist with depression; too many sticks just leave me curled up under my desk feeling beaten (the morale does not improve). Just enough of a stick to get me out of inertia, though, and then the potential for rewards as long as I continue the good behavior? Oh. Yes, there we go.
How about you? What motivates you when you’re dragging your feet on a creative endeavor? Any tricks or brain-hacks or tools that work especially well?
October 30, 2013 · 11:03 am
Ugh. I am trying to run two competing processes at all times lately: there’s Writer Brain, which keeps going YES GOOD IDEAS WE NEED WORDS WE HAVE CHARACTERS, and there’s Depression Brain, which goes “omg no opening a word processor is an unreasonable amount of effort to ask of anyone, how dare you,” and keeps on clicking the same browser game we’ve been stuck on for the last hour. Sometimes I manage to make a little progress! Yesterday I took some good advice about quick-and-dirty character building and managed to work out some important things about the main character for one of my on-deck projects, and how the action plot ought to intertwine with his personal growth arc. Last night I had an unsettling epiphany about why I’ve been having trouble with female protagonists (as a writer you really can’t afford to be in swooning-early-crush mode with your characters; you need to look at their flaws and look HARD, because that’s where interesting things happen). So there are some flashes of insight in there between the flopped-over-doing-nothing periods.
And I’m hoping NaNo kicks me over to that side of the fence more thoroughly. I’ve signed up. I’ve just put the widget on my sidebar so people can see how I’m doing (accountability helps, I hear). I don’t expect to win, and I’m pretty zen with that. The pace of NaNo is still pretty high for me, and I have a day job and family to visit and ideally kind of a social life. But if it gets me back in the discipline—write every day; keep writing; put the writing first and then screw around AFTER—then it will be a success even if my ending word count is 10k instead of 50k.
…Okay no if I’m honest I would be disappointed with myself if I bailed at only 10. But 20k, maybe. If those words are going somewhere. That would be a good start.
Bring it on, November. I’m ready for you.
July 21, 2013 · 11:13 am
Well. Since we last spoke, I’ve done a few exciting things — I got a new job (which pays better and appears more stable than the one I lost in November), I signed a contract with Riptide for my first novel (!!!!!!), I released a free fantasy short through the M/M Romance group’s Love Has No Boundaries event, and I weathered the rest of radish season only to stumble headlong into zucchini season even more direly unprepared. (My gardening life has involved a lot of googling: “sunflower foliage image” and “when to harvest potatoes” and most recently “zucchini recipes,” “more zucchini recipes,” and “recipes to use up a LOT of zucchini.”)
There’s something really comforting and pleasant about working in the garden, though; my mother has been a gardener since before I was born, and I think I’ve inherited this temperament from her. Sitting out in the dirt and pulling weeds is a good time for contemplation, for meditating on scary things. Like writing.
Before Rachel read my book I kept thinking, “what if she doesn’t like it?” Now that she has read it and liked it, all I can think is, “What if I can’t ever do that again?” What if I can’t sustain a story that size? What if I can’t come up with a plot? What if, what if, all these nasty weedy little ideas that take root without permission and grow wildly as soon as my back is turned. Possibly the ugliest one, hiding under other foliage and setting down nasty deep roots: What if I could only write that book because of my partner’s help and encouragement, and without her I’m missing something crucial?
Putting that one into words means I have to actually look at it, and maybe start trying to dig it out so I can burn it. Yes, she helped a lot with the first draft. Yes, she was the person I talked to when I got stuck. Yes, her enthusiasm fueled the writing efforts. But getting that help doesn’t mean I’m incapable of writing on my own. And needing it doesn’t mean I’ve failed as a writer; Acknowledgements sections wouldn’t thank first readers and writers’ groups so often if that weren’t a really useful thing for a writer to have. Creating in a vacuum is not actually standard practice.
Drake and Gabriel’s story is, among other things, about finding faith in unlikely places. I think it’s time I tried to find some of my own. I’ll just have to keep digging.