Jazzing things up

OK.  I’ve decided I need to jazz things up a bit.   Sometimes the drive to go forward gets a bit old and the writing starts to feel like it’s moving ahead but not really capturing anything.  This might be dealt with in redrafting, but I’ve decided to have a go at doing something different now.

So today, I changed my routine.  I changed my writing time and my writing location.  It seemed to work – I feel like I got a lot more done and went deeper than I have been lately. 

And next weekend, I’m taking a couple of days off and am going to spend every one of those days writing.  That means working on assignments until then to free up my writing time for my own work only.  I’m also setting myself a target of 1000 words a day, but this will be maintained for 10 days straight so that I have 10000 words at the end of it.  It will also hopefully mean that I get deeper into the work rather than skimming across the surface.

Wish me luck!

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Overload

I’ve just had a week of difficult juggling my day job, my studies and my writing.  Let’s call it ‘overload’.  It’s not that I didn’t have time for all of them, it’s more that I was thinking about everything all the time and got a bit over always having to do something with my free time.  Whenever I get like that, I find that I’ll put something off (usually my assignments!) and then I get stressed about being behind.  This just makes the whole thing worse.

Times like this usually last about a week or so for me, and I’m perplexed as to why they happen.  What gets me past overload is having a day or two off, then allocating small lots of time and being strict with myself about committing to my given task.  Actually, that’s not quite true.  What gets me past overload is putting butt in seat and getting some creative work done!

But I’m curious about other strategies that people use in this situation.  Dare I hope that there is an easier way that I haven’t discovered yet, or am I fooling myself?  If you have any thoughts to share, would love to hear from you.

Once upon a time …

On the one hand, writing gives structure and meaning.  When I go to bed on a Friday night, I can’t wait to have two whole days when I can write to my heart’s content.  I’m a ‘planner’, so I know what I’ll be writing about and I’ll usually have written a bit in my writing journal about what I want the next scene to do.  I like having something to head for, so when people ask me ‘did you have a nice weekend’ I generally say ‘yes, it was fantastic, I got another blah words done’.

On the other hand, I miss being able to have a whole day to just read a book without feeling guilty that I’m not working.  That would be nice.  I vaguely remember life being like that, but really, it’s so long ago that I can’t tell if it really was or if I’m idealising things.

Getting stuck

I experienced something the other day that dogs every writer, beginner or experienced – I got stuck!  My chapter was dragging along, with not much happening and going nowhere special in a hurry.  I’d tried my usual trick – press enter and insert <work in transition> – in an attempt to get to an exciting bit, but when my next sentence was ‘Did you hear about the tribe?’ I knew it wasn’t going to work.  Boredom was here to stay.

About a year ago, my writing buddy Janette gave me some advice.  She said whenever you’re stuck, ask yourself a question right before you go to sleep and you’ll wake up with the answer.  I tried it and it worked!  As I was dropping off to sleep, I started thinking about the problem of how to start the next part of the conversation, and I came up with one line. 

Everything clicked, and I knew I’d found what I needed.  The rest of the chapter was shaped and ended exactly where it needed to.  And to top things off, I can reshape the rest of the chapter in light of that one line to match the tone.  So thanks, Janette, it only took a year but your advice eventually sank in!