Struggles

I am struggling to write. I have struggled for the last few weeks. I’m tired and I’m worried (scared) about my current writing projects. It was even hard to write this week’s blog post.

But I’m not going to whinge about it.

I have managed to make some detailed plans around two of the writing projects, organised library copies for my new paperback, set up a Goodreads giveaway (starting soon, details to come) and spent some guilt free school holiday time with my daughter.

Writing is hard. Sometimes it is harder than other times. And even a short blog post can help keep the words moving.

Even when the writing is hard, a little goes a long way. The plans are in place and I know that the words will flow again.

When not writing begets not writing

When not writing begets not writing
Poor Orange Snoopy was too unwell to write too

I am very late posting this week, in fact I nearly put it off until next week. But then I thought it was better to share my failures with you as they happen so we can all learn from them. Not that I’m really putting my hand up to claim failure; I just haven’t been writing, which has compounded into more not writing.

Last Wednesday at the gym I pinched a nerve or a muscle or something in my shoulder which triggered a migraine. I very rarely suffer from migraines and it threw me for six. In fact, Dad had to pick me up from work and drive me home and Mum had to collect my daughter from school. It was hideous, debilitating and very scary.

I was heady and achy and so not up to very much at all. I couldn’t read and I couldn’t write. Over three days I rested in bed watching all 100 episodes of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I got better. Of course, a migraine is just a nasty big brother to a headache after all, but it took me longer than I thought it would. In fact I was still feeling “funny in the head” on Saturday.

When I did start to feel better I was keen to pick up where I’d left off and get back to my previous work load. But I over did the planning of it. I couldn’t face sitting in front of the computer for very long (especially after a day at work) and my enthusiasm dropped and I found I lost a couple more days out of fear of not being able to do what I wanted.

Not only had I lost a week of writing time I felt the pressure of that lost time and how far behind I was. The added pressure dried up any writing, or editing, I could have been doing. This added to the stress and around and around we go.

Then I took a deep breath.

I was trying to do too much.

Maybe if I started with just one page of editing instead of three.

That helped. I wasn’t coming close to my previous daily targets but something was better than nothing. I wanted to prioritise my editing over my read through but sometimes reading and note taking was far easier on the mind than editing.

There are times when we just can’t achieve what we want to because all sorts of things get in the way. And for some of these barriers there isn’t much we can do about it. When these things do happen it is important to stay calm and work on a little rather than trying to get it all done. My daily targets were set fairly high for this month because of what I know I can achieve on a good day.

Maybe I should revise this down a little to give myself some breathing room for those days I can’t reach the ideal. I continue to record all my writing times and rather than change my entire plan for the end of the year (and next year) I will see out the month and then assess how I’m going. Maybe I can make up the lost time with a little dedication. Maybe I’ll just have to work that extra time into the plan.

The important thing right now is to keep writing. And if that is only a page a day then that’s ok because a page a day is better than none. Writers do write after all and I’m trying my best to be a writer.

For more about Lizzie Bennet and my other distractions sign up for my newsletter. Every month I talk about how my projects are going and what non writing activities I’m allowing to get in the way of my writing activities.

The Call of the Siren

singing cat 1

Recently for homework my daughter had to come up with her ideal super power and then describe why that was better than others. Her choice was invisibility. Since the exercise I have been thinking about what I would want for a super power. If given the choice to choose something truly amazing skill, what would it be?

I am a big fan of superheros. I love the Avengers and all their spinoffs.

My ultimate choice would be to sing like a siren, probably luring men to their deaths. So it seems if given the chance I would probably be a baddy with my super power. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. As I currently sing like a dying cat, it was initially all about the voice. Whether I want the tail and the ocean living, I’m not so sure.

How can I use this for my writing? I’m not sure about that either, but it might be a useful thought later down the track. I love superheros and the powers they wield for good but it is an area I hadn’t thought of writing in. Although fairy tales are something I have played with, it could come into something else.

All of this is a distraction really. I am distracted.

My moving date is growing closer, and much quicker than I thought. My head is full of crazy ideas and lists of what I need for the house. As well as day dreaming about singing to strangers, I’m dreaming of my new desk with a view and the amazing writing I will do whilst I try not to stare out at the view.

I have only just realised that I am allowing myself to be distracted. I know it is happening and although I could do something about it, I’m not. This is because my editing is a bit scary. OK really scary. I have more or less rewritten the beginning. And there is a lot of work to go. Once I get into the process I’m fine, and although there is much to do, the editing is happening and it seems to be improving the story. But I am so worried that it might not improve that taking that first step of sitting down is not happening as often as it should.

But I am not getting stressed about this. I’m concerned but I know that once I’m in the new house things will settle down, my mind will clear somewhat and I will be able to do what I need to with my leave (as well as unpack boxes – I have a plan of one box, one scene, one box, one scene) and then it will be done before I know it.

Sometimes distraction is a good thing. Whether this is one of those times or not, I don’t know yet seems (I know very little right now). But I’m going with it and I’m carrying my notes wherever I go in case I get some time, or inclination, to sit down and write some words.

Is fear stopping you from writing?

800px-Blank_page_intentionally_end_of_bookWe are setting goals we want to achieve, things we want to do, that lead to a place we want to be.

Aren’t we?

I struggled in the past to take action on my goals, I was ensuring my goals were reasonable and achievable and setting deadlines. But the deadlines came and went and I wasn’t any closer to achieving the goal.

The problem was that I wasn’t taking the appropriate action.

I knew what I had to do but I wasn’t doing it.

I started researching how to take action. Looking for tips on how to do the doing part of a goal. Everything pointed towards writing it down and away you go…but I wasn’t.

So what does stop us sitting down and typing out the 500 words a day, or the 20 minute run to build up to the marathon. There were times I struggled to sit at the desk let alone reach my daily word limit.

One reason we may not be taking action is fear. Whether that is a fear of not doing well, or not being able to do it at all, or what would change if we did do it. I watch authors being interviewed and I can think of nothing more frightening (just as one example).

Understanding why we are not taking action is the first step to taking it.

There are times that I still struggle (such as over the last week). The main reason my writing stalled was a fear of not knowing what part of my draft I should work on next, or what needed to come next. I know from experience that once I sit down and start typing out a sentence or two then a scene will develop on the page. It might not be any good, it might be axed in the next draft without a thought but it will progress my writing.

But I worked myself into a state about not knowing that I don’t even have a sentence to start with and so I’m not sitting down at all. This slows down everything including my other writing because if I’m not drafting then I shouldn’t be working on other things (crazy but the brain can be very disruptive at times). I also know that working on other projects can help give a jolt to a current draft.

The idea is to know why I want to do this and what it would mean if I don’t.

 

So to take action I have to:

Book a time and sit down. This is usually 5am (every morning) but as I struggle this hasn’t worked so well. On the weekend I spent some time with a writing buddy. Sitting together meant I had to at least sit at the laptop and try something.

Plan. But this is where I was stuck, I didn’t know where to go next. I usually have an idea or sentence at least. Forcing myself to the computer I thought I might have to force my protagonist into some form of action and see where it went. So I put her on a horse (and she was nervous) and sent her out into uncertainty and a whole new wonder opened up before us.

Have a back up. If I still can’t get beyond that one sentence, start on something else, plan or outline a blog post, edit that short story for writers group, go over the section on taking action for my action ebook…

 

Think about what will happen if I don’t at least try. – stuck in my day job until I am 80; my story will remain unfinished; I will be grumpy for the rest of my life because I get grumpy when I’m not writing and so my family will eventually run away…

There are lots of reasons that stop writers from writing but fear is a big one.

Fear can be debilitating. It can stop your writing dead, sometimes before you even start.

Work out what you fear. Even writing out what does scare you might help to move beyond it.

If fear is what is slowing you down (or stopping you altogether) face the fear and get on with the writing. It is ok to be crap. It is ok to produce a poor first draft. You can face it later for editing. Have a back-up plan to keep the writing muscles working because not writing makes it harder to get writing again.

Find what you fear first and then find a way to beat it. For what could be worse than not writing?

Over the coming weeks I will be talking about other reasons we don’t take action and this will be expanded in my upcoming ebook.

What fear prevents you taking action and what have you tried to beat it?

 

Image by Brian0918 via Wikimedia Commons