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.

My Number One Tip to Beat Writers Block

beating writers block

A couple of years ago I struggled with long periods of writers block. This impacted on everything I was trying to write at the time, including my Masters. It was hard going. What was worse, just when I thought I had moved through it, I was hit with another period of inability to write.

One of the keys to moving through a writing block is to work out what causes it in the first place. For me, writers block hits when I am overwhelmed by what I have to do. It may be that it is too much; or the deadlines are scary; or there is a lot of pressure behind the writing work, such as my Masters; or a combination of all of these things.

Strangely, the magic relief to these periods of writers block was to work between several projects.

I have heard others say that this is not a good idea; that you can’t be focused when multi-tasking. Switching between multiple projects is not multi-tasking. It is working on different projects, one at a time.

Let me clarify with some examples. I will work on an Iski Flare manuscript until I need a break from it; then I’ll draft a couple of blog posts. I might spend some time editing another story or playing with ideas for a new story.

I am not trying to work on several projects at the same stage at the same time; that is, I’m not trying to draft two stories at the same time. That wouldn’t work at all for me. That would be one of those crazy ideas that would lead to becoming overwhelmed at the state of two different stories and so lead to a major stumbling block.

I usually have one project in draft, one in edit and one in final production stage. This means that if I become overwhelmed by one, or tired, I can switch to something else. I love drafting. I find that easiest of all my writing tasks. But then I love to nurture that into something stronger. So, I can work my writing tasks in around my energy levels and keep the momentum going.

Given my timetable for this year there is a little more overlap in stages of projects than I would like but it generally works. It may be that if I’m editing two works, I focus on one for a week and then the other and they would be at different edits. If I have a deadline looming then it might be that I can’t concentrate on anything other than what I have to get done.

The mind works in strange ways and I have found a few ways to work with mine to get the most out of it. Keeping busy keeps me writing. The key is to find the right balance of busy writing without tipping into Overwhelmed World, where there is so much to do that no writing gets done at all.

 

How do you like working?

Is it large chunks of time or little? Can you follow one project through from start to finish without getting distracted, or blocked or burnt out; or do you have to think about something else at times?

I would love to hear your stories and tips on beating writers block – hit reply to this post and share them with me.

I have had a little break

772px-Moleskine_ruled_notebook,_inside_view

You should understand before we go any further that when I say “break” I really mean “breakdown” or “block” or something similar. Perhaps breakdown is too harsh, I was not a quivering mess in the corner unable to do anything but cry. I was functioning just fine, I just wasn’t writing. And that for me is far more important than whether or not I was able to get in the car and drive to work.

This block possibly came about because:

  • Day job stressors (far too complicated to go into here but let us say that at this point I still have a day job to support my writing until it is the paying job – you get the point)
  • Changes with daylight savings threw me more than I thought possible, how can one hour make so much trouble?
  • A 24 hour bug but it seems to have taken a lot longer than a day to get over
  • Reduced energy which I am blaming on all of the above
  • Fear that my story is not enough to fill three books (probably the most significant, but let us not discount the other items in the list).

And in the midst of all this I realised that I had stopped writing and this stressed me further to the point it became harder and harder each day to even look at the computer and when I did it was to check Facebook and Twitter, not write.

I spent some time developing maps and plans of castles and towns. I then drafted a blog post about the map development I was doing for my novel series but I lacked confidence to even polish that and post it. Again, creating more stress.

So after nearly two weeks of not writing and stressing about not writing I have taken some steps to remind myself of why I write in the first place and what I want to do with my writing.

  • I am focusing on the fun side: the magic of the story unfolding across a screen (or page); that wonder of discovery as the characters come to life and tell me what they want.
  • I am also working through a writing a series course with Holly Lisle, which is interesting and giving me lots of tips to make my current work stronger.

 

Slowly able to take deep breaths again (hence this post) I am hoping I haven’t overloaded myself with to do’s for this week. But after thinking about what I want and knowing what I can achieve I have set out the following:

  • To write 1500 words of my new work every day (weekend included) and when I find the flow that equates to about an hour of writing.
  • To finalise the short story I have been working on – just a few tweaks and it is ready to go; two to three hours at most I’m sure and important because I want to get a good story out to you lovely readers soon. The longer I put it off the longer until you get it.
  • Return to regular blogging….

I know that this is achievable even with my current workload at the day job.

The key is to write and to write every day and I am attempting to create a writing chain. I haven’t made my goal public yet but not far away…

At the moment I am focusing on everything I can to get writing again and continuing to write.

I have even considered signing up for Nanowrimo this year. A scary thought but I would only need to write 1667 words a day to complete the 50,000. Depending on the flow I can write anywhere from 1200 to 2000 words an hour but I don’t want to overload myself and cause another block (I’ve done that before).

IMAG0243So here is a picture of part of my map – just because I was going to share it, my creating maps started as a distraction or procrastination tool as I struggled with the story a little but that grew into something far worse. So no more maps until I have my 1500 words written for the day. And we can count today as day 1 of the chain!

Multiple Projects

projects

by Georgina Makalani

There are differing schools of thought as to whether it is a good idea to work on different writing projects at the same time, or focus all of your energy on one project at a time.

For some of us there will be little choice, or we have very different things on the go at once. Such as, a blog/website and our writing. But what about trying to write several books at once?

 

Here are some options for working on multiple projects:

Different types of writing

Blogging verses fiction

We all have different projects on the go, you can’t simply focus on blogging and ignore that novel or vice versa. Most of us have day jobs that involve some forms of writing. Most of my reporting at work is financial, but I am still able to sit down at lunch time and work on my fiction.

 

Writing projects at different stages

Drafting verses Editing/Proofing

I like the idea of trying to get as much out as possible. If I don’t start the next novel until the last one is going out the door it will be years between novels, many years.

 

Serious verses Play

We all have work we want to be taken seriously, or are polishing to a standard for publication. Try something experimental such as a silly short story in a different genre for your writers group or create a poem or song that might fit into your current work. Creating something fun and different takes the pressure off, and may free the mind to refocus on the serious writing.

 

I think working on multiple projects helps in preventing or combating writers block. If you get stuck with one work, you can move to the other to free the mind and keep the writing flow going. This may not work for everyone and I strongly recommend against drafting several stories or novels at the same time. I would also stress not trying to work on too many projects at one time. We don’t want to cause greater pressure on ourselves, it would not help any of the writing you do.