Why?

For the love of all that’s good, why?

Y’all get a twofer today.

I don’t feel like writing. I don’t know why. I’m not having writer’s block; I can think of plenty of things I want my characters to do or say. I pretty much know what direction I want my story to go. Yet, for some reason, I really can’t seem to put words down on the paper (or tap letters on the keyboard). Therefore, I started typing this to see if I can flush out what’s holding me back from stringing together some words that will develop into subsequent paragraphs, pages, and chapters:

Pressure/Fear. Do I feel pressure that my sequel needs to match, if not surpass the quality of Twisted? Am I fearful that the few precious readers who bought and enjoyed my story will be disappointed in the follow up? Hmm. Those sentiments probably hinder the progression of my manuscript. A part of me thinks, that shouldn’t prevent you from writing. Just tell the story you want to tell. As long as you enjoy it, others will too. Ok. I think that’s true, however, if I want to do this for a living, having readers is obviously critical. So, of course I want my story to be good, regardless to how subjective “good” is. From this perspective, being a writer is analogous to an athlete not being able to preform under pressure. When the pressure is on, some athletes cave, yet others soldier through, effectively separating the good from the great. Damn. How does Serena Williams do it day in and day out?

Distractions/Procrastination. Why am I avoiding finishing the first draft of my sequel? Perhaps it’s because I’m finding convenient distractions everywhere I look. “Oh look, someone on G+ commented or posted something that sounds interesting. Better check it out.” Or, “someone chatted me up on Twitter, better respond instead of working on this story.” If it’s not social media diverting my attention, it’s something else. Time to work out. Should I venture outside, or stay indoors? It’s a good time to wash my hair. Did Djokovic really get pushed to a fourth set? He’s been damn near outstanding all year. Anything but focusing on what I need to focus on.

I frequently chatted with someone on Twitter. One day, he disappeared. Poof. Not a peep from him. When he finally reappeared, I asked him where he’d been. He replied that he took a break from social media to really hammer out his writing projects. Maybe I should take a page from his book and unplug until I get this first draft finished.

Not in the mood/zero motivation. Perhaps I’m in an extended period of just not wanting to write? It wouldn’t be the first time. I abandoned Twisted for a period of time before picking it back up (I think it was about a year). I don’t think this is uncommon for writers. We go through writing moods, or rather phases. Sometimes I can go on a tear and succinctly write what I’m thinking. Words and scenes pour out of me effortlessly. Other times (like now), I’m like a tennis player whose serve has abandoned her in the last game of the final set. I can’t get anything done and nothing hits the paper. Maybe I’m just in one of those slumps where I’m not feeling the story at the moment, AT ALL. If this is the case, I’m really hoping my mojo returns quickly.

Anyway, I’m sure my inability to barely craft a f*cking sentence stems from a combination of all three of these theories. Anybody have any suggestions on how to overcome pressure, reject distractions, and/or get motivated? Let me know here, or find me on social media.

5 thoughts on “Why?

  1. One of the loudest resonances in the #amwriting echo chamber is this “work every day and adhere to your schedule or you’ll never be a *real* writer” meme.

    That’s an overly simplistic view of a deeper issue: Creative people need input time as much as they need output time. And only an automaton can be always in the mood for the I/O function scheduled on the calendar for a given moment.

    The question is one of discipline and devotion. Clockwatchers and quota-mongers assume they will not succeed unless they put in an exact number of hours each day and each week, at specific times and without interruption.

    Hogwash.

    I work full time coding and some days I work over and am too worn out to write. Some days, I knock off after eight hours and if I’ve had positive traction at work, that velocity will carry me through a couple more hours of writing. If it’s been a bad-technology day, probably not. But on weekends and holidays, I spend every allowable moment writing, without shirking other responsibilities.

    I can’t say how many hours it took to get through four drafts of my novel, but I know I started over two and a half years ago, and it’s almost ready for the proofreader now. The book didn’t suffer because some days I didn’t write any at all. But I was devoted and had the discipline to return to it whenever I was able and willing. That’s the important part.

    In short, if you know your own mind well enough, you can recognize its input and output modes and go with it. Don’t try and force it to do input when it wants to do output or visa versa. Sure it will work, but it won’t be as effective as if you just let it do what it’s inclined to do.

    Of course, your milage may vary. If, like me, you know you’re easily distractible (i.e., ADHD), you have to be vigilant in the discipline department. Still, I don’t feel the need to wear a watch.

    • Hi Clifford.

      So are you saying it’s normal to have periods of time where my brain refuses to write anything down and that I should just go with the flow? If so, you’ve made my day! 😀

    • You know what Cory, when I finished up Twisted, I was on an early morning writing roll as well. I’ve tried to get back into that groove, but even that’s not working. 🙁

  2. Pingback: Sequel Update: Dealing With One Pesky Bad Boy | S.M. Dahman

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