I turned 24 in August.
I drew the first sketch of my book’s main character when I was 12.
This story has officially been with me for over half of my life now.
And I must say, there are a lot of ups and downs to having a “life’s work.” Namely, it’s an enormous amount of pressure. By this point, these characters have been living in my head for over half of my life. They mean everything to me. I see a music video, I hear a song, I am even just struck by the light a certain way, and I think of them. I think of their scenes, and their emotions, and how I want the world to know them like I do. And it makes sitting down to write about them insanely difficult. I love them so much, I feel like I can’t do them justice.
Maybe this is why I always start my writing with a glass of wine.
Which brings me back to something I realized many years ago: To some degree, all writers are a little bit crazy. We invent imaginary friends, create worlds for them to go play in, and then tell people about it. And we want people to pay us for this.
In January, I accidentally bought an Amazon Prime account. I did exactly what Amazon hopes everyone will do–I tried the month-long free trial of Prime around the Holidays so that I could get all my Christmas presents to family and loved ones within 2 days, and then I completely forgot that I did this and didn’t cancel the account in time, and now I have it for a whole year.
Like a lot of people who try not to go insane when they do these things, I told myself that Everything Happens For A Reason and decided that I will use my Prime account to read more books this year (and probably to watch some Sopranos, if we’re being honest here).
Writers are supposed to read, and there is no creature in the world more anti-social than I when I’ve gotten into a book. As a kid, I used to bring books to baseball games with my Dad and read for 9 innings straight. I had no idea who won or lost or if anything even happened. In retrospect, I feel pretty bad for my Dad, but he doesn’t seem to hold it against me.
And so, 2014 is the year of buying and reading more books.
To date, my greatest Amazon Prime purchase hands-down has to be Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s awesome. It’s a really great blend of tips and advice that you already know but could stand to hear again as well as approaches and concepts that you haven’t seen before.
I am just now through the third of seven chapters, and I found a quote that I love and wanted to share, one that really speaks to the case of Writer’s Block that has been plaguing me:
“Related to this idea is a cautionary tale about two writers. One had a brilliant imagination and the other a slightly lesser imagination, but the Lesser had more tenacity and drive than Greater, so Greater failed while Lesser went on to a substantial career.” -Wonderbook, p.8
Writing is commitment, practice, dedication, and lots of love. You just have to keep writing.
Also, go check out this book now:
I am struggling intensely with writer’s block.
I sit down to write. I kind of write. I drink wine and think about writing. And then I get distracted by absolutely anything and everything.
I get distracted by the song I’m listening to in order to find inspiration. I get distracted by all the books I want to read again. I get distracted by wanting to spend time with my boyfriend. I very frequently get distracted by my dog, but he’s a 1-year-old Boxer and he’s just too adorable to not pay attention to.
And then nothing is written.
What do you do to break out of this funk?
Writer’s Block used to be this weird phenomenon everyone talked about that never really made sense to me. What do you mean, the words don’t flow? Can’t you see the movie in your head? It’s super easy! Just write!
Now I’m pretty sure it was saving itself up all those years to attack me just as I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing. It’s like I angered Writer’s Block in a previous lifetime, and she waited 23 years to wrap my brain in a fuzzy cloud where none of my characters will talk to me.
I thought I was going to get a ton of writing done this weekend with my boyfriend out-of-town for work. I thought I’d start my day with coffee, end with some wine, and let the story encompass my entire weekend.
Instead, I got in a staring match with the cursor and only wrote 1,284 words.
What do you do when Writer’s Block strikes? Is there a method to breaking out of the funk, or is it something that comes easier when you are dedicated to writing every day?
I read a blogpost by SJoyCarlson yesterday called How’s that novel coming?, complete with the Family Guy clips of Stewie raking Brian over the coals for that novel he’s been working on for 3 years. The post and ensuing comments were all pretty entertaining, and I concluded that getting that question was a right of passage. After all, you have to have the courage to tell people you’re writing a novel for them to even ask you.
A few weeks ago, motivational speaker Jeff Nischwitz did a talk for my company. He had interesting ideas about motivation, about becoming the person you want to be, but most of all, about goal setting. One of his points, the one that stuck with me the most, was that people are afraid to tell other’s about their goals because they are afraid to fail publicly. If you tell your friends, family, coworkers, or even strangers that you have a goal, and then you don’t reach it–whether you didn’t put in the necessary work, whether the circumstances were not in your favor, regardless the reasons–you will be embarrassed.
But on the other hand, when we share our goals with other people, it creates accountability. The fear of embarrassment can be one more motivating factor, one more reason to push forward.
When I interviewed for my current job over a year and a half ago, I told the interviewers that I was writing a novel in my spare time. It seemed like a good interview response about my hobbies and personal life.
Today, our newest hire–the wife of one of the people that interviewed me–said her husband mentioned I was writing a book, and lo and behold, she asked how it was going. I immediately though of SJoyCarlson’s post, and of Stewie giving Brian so much crap, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. So I told her the honest truth: that it’s going great, because it feels so good to be writing again.
Hard to argue with that, right?
This weekend, I bought a typewriter.
One of my best friends was visiting me for the weekend, and we were exploring all the little shops in Tremont when we came across this beauty. Now, I’m not usually one to make extravagant purchases (and by extravagant, I really mean anything that isn’t food). Even though the price tag said $65, and the shop clerk assured us that anything we wanted in the store could be had for much less than the listed price, I was skeptical. Did I really need to spend my money on this?
Then my friend haggled with the shop clerk until he agreed to sell it for $35, and I knew I couldn’t pass up this wonderful little machine.
But to ease the nagging voice in the back of my head that still claimed I didn’t really need to buy the typewriter, I decided the purchase was going to mark something for me: the start of my blog.
I have always loved writing. Several months ago, I finally jumped headfirst back into the project that has been with me for what feels like my whole life. It’s all coming to life in my head again. I finally feel like a writer again. And if I ever want to have a shot at getting my novel published, committing to a blog to help get my name out into the world is a must. So, what better time to start than now?
The beautiful typewriter now sits on top of the bookshelf that will one day become my library, next to the potted cactus that reminds me of my desert home and the baseball my boyfriend caught at a game we went to together, in the lovely blue room where I am going to finish my first book.
(assuming you don’t count the 50,000-word book I wrote in the sixth grade. I haven’t decided if I do or not. Because even though it wasn’t very good, I still wrote it at age 11, and that’s kind of badass, right?)