Sunday, May 7, 2017

How to keep writing when you Just Can't Even.

For the past few months I have had a hard time writing. Production has staggered to a near halt. Rabbit holes like Twitter and consume my time. When not on Twitter I seek relief in Facebook games (Did you know those games are FINITE!!! I did NOT until I actually reached the end of Pepper Panic Saga last night). 

So, what have been the only things to stand between me and total paralysis?

1- Get out of the house: I have taken to going to a local coffee shop to work on my edits. It's not too far from the house and I can drink tea. It's a bit noisy but editing isn't as demanding as composing prose from scratch (at least for me) and I can work there. There is internet available but I don't trust public internet so I don't log on. That way there is no distraction.

2- Find someone who will hold you accountable: I have a monthly critique group that I am taking my first chapter to and getting feedback. It doesn't necessarily keep me going, but it makes me read my words out loud and consider my manuscript. It's also nice to talk to other writers.

3- Take a writing class: Even if you don't NEED one it will make you write. I am currently taking an online writing class and honestly, it's the first original composing I've done since January. They may only be exercises but at least, again, I am thinking about my WIP and using my characters in the exercises to deepen my understanding of them. 

4- Take a break: Just give in to your vices and escapes. Just make sure you don't do it for too long. But try and recharge your batteries. Get outside. Go on a mini vacation. Check out the local farmer's market.


Linda Thorne said...

These are good ideas. I was having serious trouble writing, but it was mostly because my day job had become an absolute nightmare, busier and more troublesome every day starting last November or so. Then a few weeks ago, out of no where, a brand new boss I just inherited with the new company that bought us, came to town to eliminate my position. I never expected that, since I'd been at that job for 9 solid years and was busier than I'd ever been. Well, that problem was solved without me having any say in it. Now, I am writing, but I'm in some very hard spots in my work-in-progress. Everyday, I'm struggling over the same two scenes that I just can't get. I think I'll take your advice about the critique group. I used to go once a month until all hell broke loose at work last year. I have no excuse not to go now. I need it.

Che Gilson said...

I hope they help! I hope you can put some of the ideas to good use.

Liane Spicer said...

Che, I know just what you mean about "just can't even". Between the political situation last year (UK and the USA's ongoing nightmare), the personal losses in terms of deaths of relatives, and other personal upheavals, it's been one long "just can't even" for me.

Your recommendations are sound and they've worked for me in the past. I hate getting out of the house but it refreshes and motivates me. I can't write in coffee shops either (those blenders, the parade of people) but I can do other work. I don't have a critique group but once someone held me accountable--I had to email him a new chapter every week--and it worked!

Taking a writing class is a great one. I did once, and just having my mind in that space resulted in quality new writing. One of the stories I wrote during that period was shortlisted for a major international prize.

As for taking a break: I try not to guilt myself too much. Even though I'm not writing much I'm not idle. I get occasional editing jobs, and I've found that the publishing part of this business is taking more time: finding new markets and platforms (I finally found a way to publish on Google Play even though I'm outside of the approved geographical areas!!!), learning how to format for these different platforms, getting all the stories up, updating them, making them more marketable, etc etc)... All of this is very time-consuming but pays off in the long term.

I think you should quit Twitter, even if it's for a week, or a day. The "crazy" out there is just paralyzing ATM.

Che Gilson said...

Liane- you've been much more productive than I have! I keep promising I'll start self publishing on Amazon but I don't! I DID find out, through the SCBWI group I run that Scrivener will actually compile an ebook FOR YOU! Without having to code it yourself! So I'm thinking that may be something to buy in the future.

I have yet to get myself off twitter! Something new and horrible seems to happen on a daily basis and I just keep going back!

Amy Reade said...

I try to spend as little time as possible on Twitter because I hate it, but I know exactly what you mean--I have other time sucks that waste more of my time than anything else. I think you've hit on some great ideas, especially getting out of the house. I like going to the local library. I find that I am amazed by how much I get done every time I go there. And yet here I sit writing this from my living room rather than the library. I have to literally force myself out the door sometimes. Just reading this post has energized my afternoon and I'm going to get back to my WIP. I think setting it aside to write a more detailed outline might help me, too. Thanks for a great post.