Tag Archives: Write or Die

Gotta But Don’t Wanna

So, the question was asked, “What do you do when you have to write but you just don’t feel like it?”

The answer is, “It depends.”

If I don’t want to write simply because I’m in a place in the story where writing is hard, then I’ll push through it.  If necessary, I’ll use Write or Die to get me through it.

If I don’t want to write because I’m feeling like crap, then I’ll let it slide until I’m feeling better, or just poke at the keys until I’ve added a sentence or two, just so I could say I wrote something. (Unless, of course, it’s a NaNoWriMo month, in which case I suck it up and forge ahead.)

And “like crap” is exactly how I’m feeling right now.  I’ve had a sore throat since Saturday morning and my face feels like it’s going to explode. Add that to the time change, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a runaway tank. (Fortunately, I’m in editing mode at the moment, and misery loves company, so I might as well keep at it.)

Besides, I have goals to meet…

What about the rest of you?  What do you do when you have to write but don’t feel like writing?

(Oh, and the person who asked me that had just had an entire chapter eaten by her computer.  In that case I’d probably swear and walk away for a while because I’d be too mad to rewrite it without killing a few (fictional) characters.  Then I’d come back and resign myself to rewriting it.)

 

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I’m Writing!

Okay, so I didn’t write much, but at least it was something.  I added a little over a page to my current WiP.  That still leaves me pretty far behind on the page a day challenge, but at least I’m putting words into sentences.  Hopefully I can get another page or two added today, and then on my days off take a look at how many pages I need to do per day to hit my goal by the end of the month.

(I wonder if blog posts count for that?  With three blogs I should have several other pages worth of writing done!)

At any rate, I added to my WiP! Yay, me!

Granted, it’s not a major scene or anything.  In fact, it is mostly background information, but it is background information that serves to push the plot along another notch or two.

And the important thing is that it is words.

So, what got me moving again?

A sudden breakthrough?

Write or Die?

Nope.

A looming deadline?

Nope.

It was something that I should have thought of ages ago — I hand wrote a scene during my lunch break at work.

Sometimes, the old fashioned pen and paper is the best way to go.

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Coincidence?

Like Gibbs from NCIS, I’m not quite sure I believe in coincidence, so maybe synchronicity is a better word, but…

As probably everyone who reads my blog already knows, I’ve been in a writing slump. There have been glimmers of hope, but nothing seems to be breaking me out of it and getting me into that feverish “must write and write and write and write” mode that keeps me up all night and gets me up early in the morning.

Well, it seems I’m not alone.  Two of the blogs that I follow have had posts about writer’s block this week.

Fictioner’s Net  is one and Ink Out Loud  is another.

So what is it with the sudden onslaught of wordlessness? Or at least, the pondering of wordlessness?

Summer doldrums? I know it’s been miserably hot up in my room these last three days and that makes it really hard for me to write. (I did get some more work done on my outline, though.)

Retrograde Mercury?  I know my computer has been sluggish and unresponsive, which makes it hard to write.  I get frustrated and yell at it and scare my rats.

Whatever it is, I need to get over it.  I think I might have to resort to Write Or Die to get myself moving…

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Writer’s Block

Some people say that there is no such thing as writer’s block.  They say that it is just laziness, an unwillingness to do the work.  And maybe sometimes it is.

But whether or not you believe in it, there are times when the words just won’t flow, when you can’t seem to think about what happens next, or, if you know what happens next, you still feel “stuck” in trying to get there.

One thing that helps me is to have a plan.  It doesn’t have to be a formal outline like they teach you to make in school, just a general list of things to do and places to go.  In my current WiP (Work in Progress) I was stalled out, completely unable to write more than a couple hundred words a day despite my best intentions and best efforts.  I knew what the characters needed to do (the climax) but I kept stalling at getting them to it, mostly because I wasn’t sure what all had to happen between where I was and where we were headed.   So I sat down and came up with a brief (very brief!  it only had three things on it) list of things that needed to happen and put them in order.  Then I reminded myself that it’s a rough draft and the (nearly non-existent) segue could be fixed later.  And I started writing.  It’s choppy but it’s forward motion.  I added 1546 words in one day.

Another recent case in point:  I was at the climax of a novel — a large battle scene — and, even though I had a very detailed outline and knew what needed to happen, I was resistant to writing it.  It wasn’t that I was coming to the end of the book and didn’t want it to end.  No, the problem was that the upcoming scenes were massive and were looming in front of me like some sort of monster from a B movie.  (By massive, I mean that there were about twenty characters involved — and that was just on the protagonist side.)  I tried reminding myself that I didn’t have to have all twenty involved in each paragraph, that they would, in fact, only need to be dealt with in pairs, quads at the most. But I still couldn’t get a handle on how to start it, so I avoided working on it.  (It didn’t help that I hate writing fight scenes.)

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, inspiration struck and I knew what I was going to do.  At least, I knew what I was going to do for two of the pairs of characters, and that was enough to get me started again.

So, what led to the breakthrough?  Beats me.  I do know that I was only half thinking about it, that I was not at my computer or sitting somewhere with pen and paper.  (I was on my way to take a nice long soaking bath, if you must know.)

And that is how I usually break through the wall that is blocking me.  Not necessarily a bath, but doing something completely non writing related.  Sometimes counted cross stitch frees me from it, but sometimes I need something more mindless.

Like housework.  Housework is a great cure for writer’s block.  My apartment loves it when I get stuck.  (My apartment needs me to get stuck more often.)

A change of venue can help.  If you usually write in your room, go somewhere else: another room in the house or another place all together — the library, a coffee shop, the food court at a mall… Any place that can break you out of your routine.

Change your writing method.  Do you normally write on the computer?  Get a pen and a notebook and write.  (Just make sure you can read your handwriting, unlike yours truly.)

Some online games are good for helping, too.   I like jigsaw puzzles, so I’ll go to Jigzone..  Or play Screwball.    Sometimes I’ll log into Materia Magica and mindlessly kill things for a while.  Or engage in another hobby.

And Write or Die.  Write or Die got me through a really rough patch in my first NaNoWriMo novel.  It was a scene that was necessary to provide background information, but it was boring to write. (And probably even more boring to read.)  I used Write or Die to force the words out and get through that scene.  (The whole bit is getting trashed in the rewrite, but at the time it was needed.)

Want a really weird suggestion?  Write sex scenes.  One can be a lot of fun.  But keep going.  Writing sex scene after sex scene after sex scene can get really boring really fast and you’ll be desperate enough to move on that you’ll write anything else just to get the plot moving again — and that’s the whole idea, isn’t it?  (Just don’t forget to delete them later.)

Other suggestions I’ve heard are: go for a walk, watch TV, or do something else creative.  (Some people find that drawing helps them:  since I never quit mastered stick figures, I figure I’ll stick with counted cross stitch.)

There is no one size fits all cure – find what works for you.  And feel free to share your methods in the comments.

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BoCFoK

“BoCFoK” stands for Butt on Chair Fingers on Keyboard and it is the second secret of writing a novel.  (Yagottawanna is the first.)

That’s right.  Sit your butt down and type.  Don’t sit around talking about how you’re writing (or going to write) a novel. Sit down and do it.

I know, I know.  That’s not nearly as much fun as hanging out at a party and talking about that great novel you’re writing, or moaning the lack of inspiration and the never-ending case of writer’s block.  But eventually you’re going to need to have something to show for your talk, and the only way to do that is:

BoCFoK.

Sure, sometime it’s hard.  Sometimes the words don’t flow the way you want them to and your writing seems dull and flat and boring and the scenes that are playing out so vividly in your head just don’t translate to paper and you want to give up and just talk about your lack of progress.

BoCFoK!

Just keep writing.  Slog through it.  Use Write or Die if you’re really struggling. (It has saved me more than once!)

Even if what you’re writing is stuff that you’re sure you’re going to cut later, keep on tapping those keys and making those words.  Why?  Because forward motion is important.  So…

BoCFoK.

And remember, this is your first draft.  It doesn’t have to be perfect:  you perfect it later.  For now, you just sit down and get it down and get it done.

And when you have finished your first draft, then what?

You guessed it:

More BoCFoK.

Because now it’s time for everyone’s favorite four letter word:

Edit.

Now is the time to destroy all the lackluster stuff you forced yourself to write and force it into new and better beautiful prose.

Your weapons:

a dictionary

a thesaurus

and…

BoCFoK.

(This post is dedicated to The Warrior Poet.)

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