Friday, November 23, 2012

When it doesn't come easily...

Sometimes I sit down to write and everything flows like I'm just the medium for some muse or spirit who has things to say...other times, getting the words out feels like I'm trying to walk while dragging a load of logs behind me.  I've realized that when that happens, it's because of two main things:

1.)  I'm letting myself be too distracted by other things - social media, news, life's dramas.  I fix this by disconnecting myself from the Internet and taking my Alpha Smart to some quiet place where I'm not temped to see what reply I've gotten to my latest FB posting about the Gaza Strip, for example.  Or, if it's something going on live - I compartmentalize.  I take note of it and file it away to be dealt with when my word count is near where it should be.  (Of course, emergencies have to be dealt with on the spot but, thankfully, those are few and far between.)

2.)  The other main problem is when I haven't done sufficient research into the background of the work at hand so I'm having problems envisioning the setting or my characters or reasonable plot developments.  This is easily fixed by taking a day or two to immerse myself more deeply in the life of the characters - if the setting is somewhere other than where I live, for example, I may spend some time on Google Maps and Street View trying to see what my characters would see.  I check out Wikipedia - not just the country itself or the city, but the things that have happened there recently, the foods, the language, the music, the flora and fauna.  I watch YouTube videos.  Usually, I emerge from this once again brimming with excitement and the will to write.

Other things I think would also help are taking a writing class, joining a writer's group, and reading or re-reading a book like Stephen King's On Writing.  I was once a member of Romance Writers of America and I've kept a lot of the great motivational articles from writing workshops I attended online so I return to that folder every now and then and find them hugely helpful.

What do you do to get your mojo going?


KeVin K. said...

Research for me is often a trap, so I have to limit my time spent delving (an alarm clock out of reach is useful for this), but you are right in that a good research session often triggers ideas and fresh insights.

I usually have more than one project going that aren't really related to each other(which is easier to do with short fiction than novels). I'm currently editing a project for someone, getting my final research paper for Pedagogy of Creative Writing together, and considering a plot hole the size of a spacious but fuel-efficient mini-van in the middle of my Regency romance/horror story. As my stamina fades with one, I move to another - though choices are also dictated by deadlines. A problem with this system is that without enough self-discipline it can turn into a drawer full of half-done projects.

Liane Spicer said...

Life and online distractions have done dire things to my word count in the past, but I'm finding ways around...

Your writing class suggestion works; I know because I'm there right now and my output has been nothing short of amazing. (For someone who has been struggling for years to regain my writing mojo 'amazing' is not an overstatement). I've been working on short projects in different genres so the satisfaction of completing a story comes much faster. Hopefully this will carry over to my longer projects.

I think despair is a great motivator for me as well. Whenever I despair of anything in my life, getting into my writing mode provides effective escape, relief and self-validation.

[Aside: Blogger is killing me with these illegible comment validation hurdles. Cripes.]

Charles Gramlich said...

I know I fumble around quite a bit when I haven't really gotten the research done and am not "sure" what kind of world I'm working in.

William Doonan said...

I have to second what Kevin said - I try to keep a few plates in the air at any given time. That way, if I'm struck (and everybody gets stuck), I have something else to propel forward.

The other issue that always comes up for me is that I get discouraged - I figure out where to go next with a story, so I'm reluctant to sit down and working on it. And that's not the answer. Thinking is different from writing. Sometimes you have to write to get the thinking straight.

G. B. Miller said...

Working on my blog more often than not will unleash fresh writing. Also writing in a genre that I'm not overly keen on often gets my mojo going.

At the moment, no real fresh writing going on, just puttering around on a longish short story for a potential submission later on, although I am mentally outlining a synopsis for the same, so I suppose some fresh writing will come out of that.