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Just Keep Swimming

I’ve been a bit down in the dumps recently. Not, “Aaiiee!! The world is ending!” but more of, “Blah. Existing is hard work. I’d take a nap, but my brain takes that as a cue to jump its little bicycle chain and spin freely.”

This isn’t a major cause for concern. I’m making a couple of changes, working on administrivia that’s been left lying around for too long, and just generally trying to put things in order. And I’ve been writing. Only a little every day, but it’s better than nothing.

At least, I’m reminding myself to look at it that way. I was hoping to be putting down about 3000 words a day; right now it’s between 500 and 1000. And sometimes I can’t convince myself to work on one of the urgent projects, so I write something silly or pick at one of the books that should be on the back burner.

Because it all needs to be written eventually. The stories aren’t going away, and at this point, I have enough WIPs to last me a good long while. Every bit of work I do now is work I don’t have to do later. And even silly writing helps me practice putting thoughts into words.

I was raised with a type of work ethic that is becoming increasingly rare (or maybe it only seems that way). My mom in particular was big on slow, sustained effort, and imparted a lot of that wisdom to me. It makes sense for a writer- some very incredible people can write a book in two or three days, but for us mere mortals, it takes a month, or six months, or six years. Or whatever. And we have to be able to hold onto the plots, settings, and characters for the length of the novel, or continuity suffers.

And it’s a useful philosophy in times like this, when I’m feeling blah. I’ve been combining small amounts of writing with reminders that this won’t last forever, and though it’s not exactly raising my spirits, at least I’ll have something to show for it, something that wouldn’t exist if I just sat around and stared at the wall all day (that’s what I feel like doing lately).

Hmm. This is turning into yet another post on self-care. These seem to be reasonably frequent on MGC- not necessarily a bad thing, but worthy of notice. Perhaps it’s because the writing world is undergoing a period of rapid change, where people are busy chasing the trends, and have no time for themselves, so they need reminders of this type. Or maybe we, the contributors at MGC, find it easier to write down our goals and setbacks, and that sharing them with others makes the burden less onerous. Maybe we’re all nuts- I mean, we are writers.

Enough babble from me. Talk among yourselves: what do you do when the writing just won’t come, no matter what you do? Do you have better long-term results when you step away from the computer/typewriter/notebook, or is it better to keep taking baby steps toward your goal? Do you think we’re fostering a culture of too much work, not enough work, or work at the wrong places and times?

 

As proof that I am working, however slowly, here’s the link to my latest release: A Summer in Scarborough is a Pride and Prejudice sequel, featuring Anne de Bourgh.

Miss Anne de Bourgh was delighted to receive a letter from her cousin Georgiana, explaining that she would be spending the summer by the sea, and requesting the pleasure of her company. A glorious few months of balls, shopping, and walking by the sea awaits- a wonderfully diverting holiday for Anne, who has rarely left Rosings before.

But Anne is a de Bourgh, and life is never simple. Before long, she finds herself caught between the attentions of two very different men, and must choose if she will follow her heart or disoblige her family. One must be disappointed, and Anne has never been very practiced in the art of disobedience. Must she give up everything she has ever known, will she find the strength to search for happiness elsewhere?

 

 

13 Comments
  1. Draven #

    ehh, i am hitting speed bumps in my attempt to pants something and am having to start thinking things out in my setting.

    June 26, 2019
    • Mary #

      That’s why I stopped pantsing, myself. But it may still work.

      June 26, 2019
  2. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    No clue about right or wrong with culture, at the moment.

    Writing is the sort of profession where self care is important, and often inadequate, although there are other occupations with some very similar difficulties.

    I think the issue right now is that transitions and uncertainties make everything worse with such occupations. Currently many everywhere have both in spades.

    June 26, 2019
  3. Christopher M. Chupik #

    Taking a small break is sometimes not a bad idea. If the words won’t come, sitting there and looking at a blank screen isn’t going to do anything but make you frustrated. Watch a movie, go for a walk, read something you love. Just don’t take too long a break, or you can make it harder to get back to writing.

    June 26, 2019
    • Mary #

      I tend to flip to another story. Can be dangerous as the half-finished ones pile up.

      June 26, 2019
      • Blake Smith #

        I flip between stories as well, and have a pile of half-finished ones. But, I figure, they all have to be written at some point, so it’s better to have a bunch of beginnings that I can add to, than having a bunch of one sentence plot bunnies collecting dust on my hard drive.

        June 28, 2019
        • Mary #

          The thing is — they don’t all have to. You can end with an even larger pile and nothing done.

          June 28, 2019
          • Blake Smith #

            I’m sorry if that happens to you; it must be frustrating. I was talking of my own experience.

            June 28, 2019
            • Mary #

              It can happen, and by anecdotal evidence, it’s frequent enough that aspiring writers should know of the danger.

              June 28, 2019
  4. When I hit one of those “just can’t write” periods my checklist is (1) Check diet and drop the carbs that have snuck back in. (2) Have I started or stopped any prescriptions or OTC stuff? (3) Am I getting enough sleep, and if not, why not? (4) Shut up and get _some_ words written, then do covers, editing or other business stuff.

    Actually, mentioning covers, I find my creativity has trouble switching from images to story. Cover work comes _after_ writing.

    June 26, 2019
  5. For the sake of just keeping myself writing, I will do 15 minute sprints using random writing prompts. It takes away the need to be perfect. There is no time to be picky about word choice or sentence structure. It’s just a matter of writing as fast as possible and allowing the subconscious to cut loose. This is a good way for me to warm up also. I tend to over analyze things and my goal of writing 2,000 words turns into 250 words because I keep noodling over getting down the perfect word or phrase despite the fact it’s a rough draft. The bonus is that some of my sprints have some home of getting turned into something more. I’ve amassed quite a collection of them now.

    June 26, 2019
  6. Uncle Lar #

    How fortunate for you to have married into a family with no drama or crises. Stability, that’s the ticket!
    I did enjoy working with you on that Regency even though not really my genre of choice. Wouldn’t say no if you needed a bit of beta or copy edit again.
    Having gone through your cut at the period did help me to greater appreciate an HBO series I recently watched, Gentleman Jack, as some of that show’s details made much more sense.

    June 27, 2019
    • Blake Smith #

      “How fortunate for you to have married into a family with no drama or crises”

      Oh, hush, you.

      One of my greatest fears in life is boredom. I don’t have to worry about that nowadays.

      And thanks for the beta-ing offer. I don’t have any finished drafts in the pipeline at the moment, but I’ll keep it in mind.

      June 28, 2019

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