Who am I?

I am a writing and publishing guru. What I dont know about the market just isn't worth knowing. So what if I'm unpublished? I choose to give other writers the gift of my wisdom and experience* that the other 500,000 writing blogs out there fail to give.
* No actual experience

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No inspiration, Part 2

Some have a phobia of wide, open spaces.

I have a fear of a wide, open screen. You know, with no words on it. It gloats, as if proving what you've always suspected - that you have nothing worthy to say or to write. It's a pernicious, self-fulfilling prophecy.

No inspiration means no writing which is evidence of not being a writer. Or a "real" writer. And it's not a pleasant place to be. Most writers I'm sure, have visited that place. But they don’t live there. I guess they wouldn't be writers if they did!

Others have generously contributed their no-inspiration busting moves in the comments on the previous post. I'll add my own:

  1. When I have to be ruthless and cut a section or a character from a WIP, I don’t see it as "killing my darlings". Thanks to the magic of word processing, it's easy to cut and paste them to a new document. I'm not killing them, just relocating. So when I get the blank-screen blues, I just visit my old darlings. Sometimes they still have a tale worth telling, and I play with them, and let them tell me their stories.
  2. A story in the newspaper can send me down the what-if path. Sometimes, I can get a few hundred words from it.
  3. I have to reframe the dilemma. Not adding to my WIP does not mean "not writing". Sometimes I can hit a dead-end with a WIP. Leaving it to rest for a few days means that I can return to it with a fresh mind. On those days, I start something new. Maybe the new story works, maybe it doesn't.
  4. Having a deadline certainly forces the creativity to start again. Sadly, a self-imposed deadline doesn't work, because I know it's a fake. But I've been entering competitions recently. All have a rule stipulating that no late entries will be accepted. I've never tested that rule! It's amazing how a new plot-turn or (even better) a resolution will present itself when there's a sense of desperation biting at my heels. Thank you very much, adrenaline rush!
  5. If I really have no idea what to do with my WIP, I just put two of my characters alone in room together, and let them fight it out. Even if they're best friends/ confidants/ allies, just putting them in an irritable mood (why are they irritable?) and giving them something to disagree about (what?) usually reveals things about them I hadn't previously known. How do they resolve the conflict? Who backs down first? Who's actually right? Do they have old grudges? Suddenly, I have a number of leads to follow -more than I need - each of which will take the story in a new direction, with fresh energy. Ah, conflict!
  6. Finally, I need to remember that time is not an infinite resource. We have precious little of it. I was sadly reminded of this about three weeks ago, following the passing of one of my friends. We went through Uni together. He was about a month older than I. He managed to accomplish many things in his life. I never knew all of his ambitions, but I know that there was a major one he left unfulfilled. Maybe he believed his time was unlimited, too, and that he'd "get around to it one day". I will think of him whenever I'm tempted to leave something undone.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Waiting for Inspiration.

Anybody who has tried to write knows the feeling well: The lap-top (or whatever) is on. You have put aside a precious 90 minutes to write. You have a cup of coffee beside you, and no distractions have come up to gobble this time up. There's nothing interesting on tv, the stack of books you want to read have been carefully hidden, most of the housework's done. You've responded to your email, and there's nothing much happening in the various blogs you follow. And you're not feeling tired. In fact, you're pumped. This is YOUR time. So - time to write? And nothing happens. The cursor blinks, but the nothing comes from your fingers. The blank screen reflects exactly what's happening in your mind: nuffin'. You have absolutely nothing to write. Nothing to say. Zilch, zero. Despair creeps up: "what if I never write again?" Panic threatens: "I'm no good, never have been. Why pretend to be a writer?" What to do? If you have an answer to this, please post something in comments. I'll follow up with some of my suggestions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

But you have children to look after....

Ha, that's a great excuse to not write.
Children need and demand attention. Lots of it. And not just when you want to give it, it's on their terms. I guess if one neglects one's kids for long enough, they'll cease to be a problem. Child Protection services are quite picky about them needing food and sanitary living conditions and that nonsense. Or so I'm told.
The upshot of this is that they can provide a fabulous excuse to not write. They are a procrastinator's gold mine. "I cant write now, I have to supervise homework." or "not much time for writing this evening, with violin lessons, tae kwan do, choir. I'm ferrying my offspring everywhere".
Well, for those with pint-sized procratination fodder, what about this....
Jodi Picoult was a full time stay-at home mother with a small brood to care for. But she was a well organised and focused writer. She had them fed and bathed by the time her partner arrived home. As soon as he walked through the door (hope it didn't hurt much) she closeted herself in her study and just damned well wrote. No excuses.
A few bestselling titles later.....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Not much writing

Not much writing going on.

Spent about one hour- ninty mins on the non-fiction piece.
No time on fiction. My aim had been for 500 fiction words per day, more on Tuesdays, which is a day I have set aside for writing.

Breakdown of reasons:
- Watching tv in evening instead of working on my 500 words
- Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday, so I volunteered to go to school to help with a pancake day fundraiser. A bunch of us cooked over a thousand pancakes, and I was exhausted after 4 hours of cooking, cleaning, serving.
- One night I stayed up with my 7 year old boy who felt unwell (I put time aside during the evenings to write).
Lessons here:
- say NO to the idiot box
- Say NO to anything on Tuesdays. It's not a day off. It's my writing day. If I dont value it and keep it sacred, nobody else will.
- Share parent duties with husband. He could have spent some of the time sitting with boy-o.

Any other suggestions about beating procrastination?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Champion Procrastinator

If procrastination were an Olympic event, I'd be a Gold Medal contender.
For many years, I've wanted to be a writer. Wished for it! Dreamed about it!
But when it came to actually sitting down and working on a manuscript - well, other things always seemed to get in the way.
Writing's a bit like hard work. I'll get around to it. Eventually.
Once I hit the wrong side of forty, with no written works to show for it, I realised that it was time to take action. I needed to get serious about this business, and make some choices.
Procrastination is about making the easy choice, that's all.
Whenever I thought about sitting down to do the tough and lonely business of crafting a story, a little voice offered other options. Seductive options that were always easier than writing.
Beating procrastination is about making the tough choice.
I've been getting into the habit of arguing with that little voice, and gradually winning.
Guess what?
I've completed a number of short stories, I'm powering through a novel. A friend and I are starting to write a non-fiction manual. And I've had a short story accepted into an anthology.
All while looking after three children, keeping a part-time job and sitting on a committee. And maintaining a semblance of a social life.
The challenge now is to not sit on my laurels, and continue making the tough choice.
This blog is my record of the battle between my willpower, and my tendency towards laziness.
I invite other writers to contribute tales of their favourite ways to procrastinate - particularly what the little voice is saying.
Then I (and followers) can contribute our thoughts on how to beat the voice with the power of logical argument.