Tag Archives: writing woes

The slump

I’ve hit a writing slump.  Woah, it has been a long time since I’ve really had to deal with one of these.  I mean, sure, I’ve hit a few rough patches, but this one is a bit more serious.  I haven’t done any serious writing in about a week.

I think that writer’s block is unavoidable when you are a novice or intermediary writer, but I also believe that it’s something you can train yourself out of, eventually.  Honestly, I was beginning to hope that I had trained myself out of it.  Some writers I know believe that writing is a little like breathing, in that you have to have time periods where you’re only taking oxygen or ideas in, in order to have periods where you’re pumping work out.  I don’t think that’s the issue.  I still have ideas.  I have plenty of ideas, but whenever I try to put them down I feel like man with numb hands trying to juggle chainsaws.

In times like these, I don’t usually focus on my big projects.  Those are too important to stumble through when I’m like this.  Instead I search for some idea, some thought that holds even the faintest bit of appeal and start working through that.  What I produce usually isn’t any good, but I save the stories anyway to go back through later, to see if I put anything out that actually resonates with me when I’m in a writing frame of mind.

Also, as I’ve said before and will undoubtedly say again, the better you do pushing through these things when it’s hard, the longer you’ll be able to go, and the more pleased you’ll be with the results, when the writing becomes easy again.

Still, it sucks.  Hitting a slump is miserable, and the only things that really make it better are knowing that you’ve gotten through them before, and knowing that other people have suffered from them and got through as well.

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Bloody Banquet

Bloody Banquet is currently in the hands of my editor, which means that it shouldn’t be too awful long before it winds up on bookshelves… well, on virtual bookshelves everywhere.  I’d like to think that it won’t be too awful long before it ends up on physical bookshelves, but let’s be honest here, they’ll probably put out book one first, and since I still don’t have an ETA on that… I guess I’ll just focus on my end of things.

Anyway, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m trying to pull off in book three, but I still need to organize a few of the major events and decide what foreshadowing I need for future books, and which lines of foreshadowing I need to make sure continue through this one.  I’m going to have to get a lot more organized, I think.  I’m also going to have to reread my books which I’m not looking forward to… hey, don’t look at me like that, I’ve already read both of them, like, half a dozen times while I was writing them!  There’s a limit to how many times you can read your own work before it starts to make you a little crazy.  Of course, I’m already pretty deep into crazytown, so maybe I just need to quit my bitching and get back to work.

Well, wish me luck, Book three, tentatively entitled ‘curdled cuisine,’ is going to be my focus for the next couple of months.

That being said, if you enjoyed book one, and if you like book two, please make a point of mentioning it to your friends.  As I understand it, I’ve currently sold about twenty-odd copies of Awfully Appetizing, which is somewhat on the disappointing side.

Anyhow, hope you’re all doing well, talk to you soonish.

Daily Struggles

One of the things that I, as a writer, try to do, is write every single day.  I have a file where I keep track of my daily word count, and I try to make sure that each of my writing sessions is at least four hundred and fifty words long.  Ideally, I’d like them all to be much longer, but… well, you have to put the minimum somewhere, and for the time being I chose 450.

But, inevitably, there are days when I don’t have writing sessions.  Sometimes I’m working on editing something.  Sometimes I’m critiquing stuff for friends.  Sometimes I’m helping someone move.  These things happen, nothing you can do about that.  The problem is that I know myself.  If I let myself get away with really and truly missing a writing session from time to time, then, very slowly, I’m going to start increasing the list of things that are allowable.  So I have a sort of ‘carry over’ rule for myself.  I can have more than one ‘session’ for day, so long as each session is distinct (ie, I can’t just sit down, bang out nine hundred words on a story and call it two sessions), and by the end of the month, I’m all caught up.  Any longer than that and I’m just going to let myself get farther and farther behind until… no list, no accountability, no point.

A habit I’ve found myself getting into lately, when I don’t have the energy to work on one of my serious projects, it to start a story, write  few hundred words, then save it with no intention of ever coming back to it.

Part of me thinks that this is a terrible habit to get into.  I remember when i was just starting as a writer, I couldn’t finish a story.  I had a file just stuffed full of false starts.  So many stories that never went anywhere.

On the other hand, I’m not the novice I once was.  I have, in fact, finished many stories, both short and long.  And sometimes these false starts are useful.  Sometimes they tell us something, give us ideas.  Sometimes they can help us realize the direction our writing should be going in.

Still, there could be problems in the long run if I don’t make myself write with purpose at least part of the time.

The screenplay experience

A friend of mine wants to make a movie and I’m helping him on the script.  It isn’t the first time I’ve tried writing a script, and it probably won’t be the last, but I have to admit that I rather prefer writing novels, as a rule.  There’s a lot about writing scripts that is fun, like knowing that people will actually be saying the words that you put down on the paper, and getting input from people who have a very different creative viewpoint than you.

But there are sacrifices as well.  One of the big ones is that you have to realize going in that even though you’re doing the writing, this project is not about your creative vision.  That’s a hard one for me.  I’m used to being able to listen to someone’s critiques, think about what they said, and then decide, screw it, I like that bit the way it is.

You can’t do that on a screenplay.  Well, you can do that some of the time, but not all the time and not to the person running the project.  I’ve had a couple of times when I’ve been told to take out the line of dialogue that I thought was the best in the scene.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with arguing about it, or putting up a fight if you really believe that the script is taking a dive, but you have to pick your battles, and know that you could well lose them.

Over all, I recommend that people try writing screenplays if they get the opportunity, but go in with your eyes open.

Juggling

So here’s the thing about writing as a business:  There’s a lot of waiting around.

I think I addressed this a little bit in some earlier posts.

When you’re just writing for the love of it, time isn’t a factor at all.  You write when you want, don’t when you’d rather not, edit whenever the mood strikes you.  When you decide that you want to write for a living, however, everything changes.  After you write, you send it to people to help you edit, and you wait.  You get it back, you make some changes, you send it to people who might want to publish it, and you wait.  You mostly get rejected, but let’s say you don’t: you get accepted, and then you wait.  You find out what they want changed and change it, and you wait.  You get a little news here and a little news there, and you wait.  Everything finally gets finished you find out when it’s supposed to be released, and you wait.  Well, actually you promote, but whatever.  It gets published, you promote it and you wait.  you promote it some more and then you wait.

A lot of downtime.  So eventually you realize that you need to have other stuff going on during the downtime.  Maybe you work on another book.  Maybe you critique stuff for other people.  Maybe you help a friend write a movie script.  But whatever you’re doing, if it’s in the writing world, you will soon find yourself in a spot where you’re waiting for both projects to come back to you.  Why?  Because that’s how waiting works.  You can bust your ass trying to get your part done as fast as you can, but at some point you’ll find yourself in line behind a bunch of other people waiting for something that you can’t make go any faster.  So you start another project.  And maybe another.

Then one of the projects that you have up in the air comes down.  Usually when you’re right in the middle of something else.  So you manage your time as best you can and try to get both balls up in the air again, and when you do… guess what?  Now you’re waiting again!  You start a new project because there’s no sense in wasting any time, but just when you get started on that, one of the other balls comes down.  That’s okay, you just did this five minutes ago.  Rush, rush, rush, and both balls are up.

Eventually one of two things happens, you’re either fifty years old juggling eight projects and not doing anything else with your time, or all of your projects fall down around your head at the same time.

Or maybe I just need to work on my time management skills.