Writing When The Words Don’t Flow

So you know how there’s some days where the words seem to come to you faster than you can possibly write them down?

Yeah, and you know about those other days too, right? The ones when you suddenly find yourself fascinated by laundry, and all the things you’ve happily ignored all week, like housecleaning, email, or tv suddenly strike you as compulsively pleasurable?

I’ve been having a bit of the latter week. And in case you’re running short of time and can’t read all the way through, here’s the part to pay attention to: no matter what kind of week it is, you write anyway.

Ironically, I’d just rocketed through the words the previous week with a much higher word count for the week than I’ve enjoyed in a long time and then … well, let’s say the total wasn’t so spectacular. And this week, I’ve found it difficult to just stay seated in front of the computer, often find myself running off just for the sake of running off.

Here are my ten tips for writing anyway, and how to get through the slow times (or in my case, the mid-section of the first draft.) :

  1. So first, remember that not all days are sunshine and rainbows: you write anyway. And eventually, it will get better. (I promise!)
  2. On the days when it’s especially hard, make yourself a manageable promise, like “I will sit here and write for 1 hour, and if at the end of that time I still don’t want to write, I can shut off the computer.”
  3. Pre-plan. Get yourself into the writing and psyched up to work before you start, maybe by going over notes or reviewing the story and where you want to go before you even sit down to work.
  4. Leave yourself hanging. It can be easier to jump back in if you leave off for the day mid-scene or somewhere that gives you clear direction to start with, rather than just having to start with a brand new chapter / scene.
  5. Spend time brainstorming and letting the ideas flow. If you find a new and exciting idea, it can help re-energize you about the entire project.
  6. Get outside input. Especially when all you can hear are negative internal voices, make sure you hear from someone else to gain a bit more perspective on the situation and the project.
  7. Remember why you started and were so excited about the piece in he beginning. Maybe this means going through those initial “story spark” ideas, or maybe you need to literally write out a list of why this is the project for you, and why you love it – and then make sure you decide how to incorporate more of what you love into what you’re working on right now.
  8. Give yourself a break every now and then. Get up, walk around, do something else for a little while, then come back to work and go hard, then break, come back, etc. It will leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished more, plus, you won’t feel as trapped in the chair or behind the computer.
  9. Give yourself a reward. You know the old saying about the light at the end of the tunnel? Or dangling a reward just out of reach? You’re the only one who can dangle that reward. So choose something, preferably in suitable proportion to whatever you need to accomplish, and promise yourself you get that when you’re done. Like one tiny candy after a chapter is done (that’s my promise, mint chocolate Aero bubbles, yum!).
  10. Remember that writing isn’t easy, and every once in a while, it darned well sucks! BUT, you are a writer, and this will get better. Just keep going. 🙂

So what about you? How do you combat those times when you’re having a difficult time facing the writing? Have I missed some tips? Please do share below.

Otherwise, thanks for reading, wishing you all a great week, and happy writing out there!

Stumped … or not?

Today is the first day this year that I’ve tried to work on my current WIP. It hasn’t gone well. I’m not sure if this is just me, or if it means its time to abandon the project. I’m feeling rather philosophical about the whole thing since, after all, that makes it so much easier to philosophize instead of just write.

I am considering new directions. I feel overwhelmed by too much information looking through various craft books, writing books, etc. Because of course, they are written for the general “writer,” whoever the heck that is. And they try in earnest to be helpful – and perhaps they would be were I in a different frame of mind – but of course, it’s useless to look for answers only I have.

The book feels stalled. Perhaps because I have taken such a long break from it, leaving my imagination / subconscious still off on holiday. Perhaps it is because I really don’t like zombies, so writing a book about them was a bit of a foolish notion. Perhaps it is fear.

No, I think instead it’s the crushing nature of expectation and ambition. See, I’m a worrier. And if I start thinking about all the things I “should” and “ought” to be doing instead of just getting over myself and writing, I can darn near suffocate myself with invisible foes. Worrying about if I’m writing what is “marketable” or “saleable” is, to some extent, a fool’s venture, especially so early in the first draft. I don’t even have a story at all – how on earth could it ever be marketable? It’s like expecting a baby to do my taxes.

So, I have a new plan. Perhaps I will try and play more. Instead of just doing writing exercises and creating reams of new worlds that I don’t especially feel like getting more than a 1000 words into, why not go diving into my own WIP? After all, if I’m looking at the potential of abandoning and tossing the whole thing anyway, where’s the harm? Best case scenario: I end up with something that can be salvaged in future drafts and the book is completed. Worst case scenario: instead of lots of pieces of flash fiction laying all over the place (and cluttering up my file directory since I can’t bear to delete them – it’s like killing puppies!), I instead have further messed up an already messed up story, and the whole thing may RIP.

Yes, this is completely against my usual method. But seeing as the usual isn’t working, guess it’s time to play. 😉 Wish me luck. I’m off to mess around.

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a fantastic week.