I write these words in tiny script so as not to give them more power.
I know what I am supposed to do:
Put my butt in the chair each day, regardless of whether or not I am feeling inspired, and write. Let the story go where it wants to go without forcing it. Set down some words. Any words. Don't put pressure on myself to make it perfect. It's about quantity not quality, or so says Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way.
And I want to believe Julia. (I do!) But still, no matter how hard I fight it, sometimes my critical inner editor, my demanding annoying former English teacher/perfectionist self takes over and I am floundering once again in Writer's Block land
Writers' guides are filled with helpful advice on how to tackle writer's block.
Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic speaks soothingly to writers, cooing in our ears to be gentle with ourselves. Frustration is part of the process, she whispers. Creativity is wonderfully difficult and you're doing the best you can. There, there, sweetie.
Steven Pressfield in War of Art takes the opposite approach, shouting like a drill sergeant at us to fight Resistance with everything we've got. Quit whining about how tough it is, soldier! Park your lazy ass at your desk and get to work, damn it!
Daily, sometimes hourly, I pinball between the two opposite poles of Liz and Steve. I show up at my desk with the best of intentions. Set a word count goal. Set a timer. Pound out my words with a sledge hammer. Punish myself when I slow down. That's it! No more bathroom breaks until you hit 1000 words, you amateur!
I sprawl out on my bed and doodle with colored pencils in a notebook. Who needs a word count? Why stress myself out with a timer? I know, I'll do a character sketch! No, I'll build a stage set of this pesky scene out of papermache! Forget that. Let's pause to sing Kumbaya.
And then it's back to my desk and a new word count goal, a frenzy of tapping on my keyboard.
I don't have writer's block. I don't have writer's block. I don't have writer's block. I don't have writer's block. I don't have writer's block. I don't have writer's block. I don't have--
I have no magical answer but am sending good thoughts your way!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Yvonne <3Delete
In case it might help, from when I took masters-level "Sociology of Sport" class: men and women; boys and girls, we have different styles of being coached. In a nutshell, boys/men respond, typically, best to browbeating, the challenges that tear them down; girls/women respond best to more nurturing approaches, looking at the improvements we've made and therefore we can continue to improve if we keep to it. I'm way oversimplifying--but I say it so that you can also look at the two examples you've given of your "get to your writing" coaches--man and woman!ReplyDelete
C'mon, Jody, you can DO this. Sit down and write, even if it is nonsense. Take it back to freewriting, and write until the story comes back to you. (oh, yeah, me the unpublished writer, talking to the published writer.... er, um... I'm pulling for you! While I'm creatively NOT arcing out my next book.)
Shari, you are definitely on to something about the differences between men and women and how they approach the creative process. I'm at the stage where I will try any approach because I believe that there is no one right way to do This-- just, whatever works.Delete
Yesterday, I was telling a writing friend that writing for me is probably 95% psychological, and she burst out laughing and said, No duh, Jody. So the trick then is always this weird combination of pushing and letting go.
Now, off to write :)
Exactly! Some days one thing works, some days, another. Then last night, the cats were SURE I had not paid enough attention to them, so toys got dropped on my feet and on my lap to ensure I played. Then they helped me close the reservation page for Midwest Writers Conference hotel reservation, RIGHT before submitting! Until then, I hope to see you at Ohioana festival on Saturday, if you're there!Delete