Even with as much as I love writing, both the process and the end result, sometimes the going gets a little rocky. Try though I may, there are some things that can knock me off the course of a story, both within the narrative and outside of it.
- Reading. For all that reading is my inspiration fuel, sometimes it has the exact opposite effect. A good book might take a pin to my self-esteem (more on that in a minute) or else get me so drawn into the world the author created that I lose interest in my own and fixate on theirs. When this happens, usually the only way that I can pull myself out of it is to remind myself what I love about my current project, to try to make it shiny and exciting again.
- Feeling lost. Sometimes an unforeseen plot problem or lack of direction sends me flailing at the page. It’s usually a thing that I can work through if I glue myself to my chair and keep putting one word after another. It’s a trudge to do, but in general I can drag myself along until I get my footing again. I usually end up cutting all of the writing that I do this way, but at least it gets me to where I need to be to keep on.
- Not having time/being tired. I know I’m guilty of coming home from work, being tired, and going, “Nope, not writing tonight.” Sometimes I really just do not have the spoons to deal with the day I’ve had, or I legitimately have too much going on in my day to carve out time to write. But even when I can’t actively make time to sit down and put words on the screen, I try to at least do something pertaining to the story. Maybe I look up a new resource link or try to puzzle out what needs to happen in the next scene. Just something small that will keep my brain on the work that needs done instead of shifting it completely to the back burner.
- Getting bitten by a new project. There are few things that will lure me away from a draft in progress quicker than getting an idea for something new and shiny. My brain always tries to convince me that it would be more fun/more salable/easier than what I’m currently doing, so why not change directions? Just for a minute? It won’t take long, just a month or two, and the old draft will be just where I left it. It’s a constant fight, but it’s usually one that I can win if I just doggedly drag my way through my current draft. Eventually I fall in love with it again, and the shine wears off of the interloper.
- Self-doubt. Very little will cripple me faster. I look at a story, and all I see are the flaws and the time I’ve wasted trying to fix them. Anything I try inevitably makes it worse, because obviously nothing I’m doing is worth going to fix the trash I’ve written and I’d better just quit now. There’s… actually very little that can pull me out of the hate-everything spiral. It usually takes some time and distance and some helpful encouragement from my writing friends and my wife. After that, I can usually come back with a clear head and more objective view.
Be sure to also read the sister post by Rachel Serbicki at her blog!