Friday, February 27, 2015

When writing gets hard

As regular readers know, I (like all writers) struggle with writer’s block. In the past, I’ve strongly believed that it was all about fear of doing it wrong. Well, I don’t think I’m wrong about that, per se, but yesterday was a humbling writing experience.

As I said in an earlier post, I am in a critical spot in the story: building tension without giving too much away; getting my heroine personally engaged without going so far that I have nothing left to crescendo to. I sat down to write, and I did. But every word I wrote was agonizing. I was sure I was revealing too much, or being redundant, or having Cassidy make leaps of logic that were not actually intuitive... I tell you, it’s very hard to write a mystery from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know what’s going on, but is actively trying to figure it out. I feel like you try so hard not to make her seem like she knows more than she should that you trend towards not allowing her to know things that she would know. It’s hard to balance while you’re in the thick of it, and I find it very stressful because, at least for me, sometimes things get set in stone once I write them. It’s very hard to uproot a false assumption, or a “great idea” that isn’t actually so great. I didn’t want to go down the wrong path; it would be very hard to find my way back.

I’m not afraid of making mistakes; I’m just afraid of not being able to fix them.

At moments like those, if you screw up, the best possible outcome is cascading-change edits down the line. Last time I had cascading-change edits, I started writing from the beginning (which ended up being a very good idea). I’m just not sure I’m up to doing that again.

But... maybe.

</tangent> Anyway. I wrote around seven hundred words yesterday, and I spent all day doing it. I spent much of that time with my head in my hands, and another large portion just reading my story over from the beginning. I felt like I was spinning a spider web... not spider-me, just normal-me. (You try spinning a web, see how well you do.)

After I found the lifeline I’d left myself earlier in the book, I wrote myself out of the corner I was afraid I’d become trapped in. Then, exhausted, I asked Branden to read it.

His reaction:

This is really good. I really like where you’re going, I think you did a great job with building tension with derp-derp-derp, and redirecting the flow... yeah, great job.

I felt my body doing the weirdest thing... I was smiling, not in control of it at all. And this weird sound was coming out of me. It was the absolutely dorkiest “hurr hurr hurr” sound. It was surreal.

I am rarely worried about whether or not my writing will be pleasing. It’s probably because I’m a narcissist, but I’m pretty confident that the people who read my writing will not ridicule it. Anything more than that is just ego, and while I try to get it just right, I don’t labor over it too much. It’s rare that there’s a crucial moment, where you can do something actually wrong with real, lasting consequences. And it really made me realize that there are a couple of different kinds of writer’s block, as well as a couple of different kinds of writing.

Volume-writing, the kind you do during NaNoWriMo, helps me get over the first kind of writer’s block. But not all writing is created equal: without the precision-writing, you build no tension, you experience no release, you end up trapped in a post-modern existential nightmare wondering if it was supposed to be this way or if you just suck. And it’s easy to get blocked with precision-writing, because it’s not as easy to fix a mistake if you make one; it makes your fear seem justified.

I will say, though, I did almost step off the path that I wanted my story to follow, and I caught myself one word in. Maybe precision writing just takes practice, like everything else. Maybe mistakes aren’t as easy to make with precision writing.

Anyway, I’m sure I will ruminate on this more throughout my writing endeavors. Thoughts on this topic? or any other? Let me know in comments!

Word count: 27,494 (武)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Writers' Group: the unexpected joys

I really like getting feedback on my story. I like to know what everyone noticed, liked, didn’t like, etc. As I’ve written before, it’s not as helpful to get feedback on an incomplete story as it is to get feedback on a completed one, but it’s still rewarding as fuck to get kudos on something you worked really hard on, and nudges to keep you on the right track. It’s awesome, and my Writers’ Groupmates—who are also my friends—are really unbelievably good at giving even critical feedback in a very positive way. No one is overly harsh, but no one is afraid to point out weaknesses, either. We’re all here for the same thing, to get to be better writers; and that can’t happen without taking a nice, long, painful look at our weakest points.

But a thing I found, that for some reason I didn’t anticipate when my friend suggested we form the group, was that... I really like reading their work. Not a one among them has bored me, or made me face-palm, or caused me to do creative word ballet in order to make negative feedback sound positive, or, god forbid, made me lie. I rabidly anticipate each person’s next installment, and it’s never enough. I want more! Right now!

I pride myself on being a very critical reader. I had one of the best Lit classes in college, so that’s how you know I’m a professional. But seriously, I can enjoy a poorly-written book, but I know it’s a poorly-written book. And while not a single one of us is the next Edith Wharton or Herman Melville, I haven’t read any poorly-written books from them yet. And I’ve seen all of their styles and competencies evolve and mature, frequently by leaps and bounds, and I think that each one of them could be published one day, if that’s what they want.

It makes me a little sad when my friends are afraid to share their work; although I’m familiar with anxiety and depression and other mental potholes, it does (against my better judgement) make me wonder why? What did we do to make anyone think that they would get anything but accolades? I love reading their writing; it’s like a little, crystal-clear and fish-eye window into their souls, distilled through poetry and prose and stage-direction and dialogue. I never knew that my friends were such wordsmiths, and it’s like... it’s like seeing who or what they want to be, with all the chaff fallen aside. I see the things they think about, the things that interest them, undictated and undirected by any third party: designed entirely by them. The social issues that concern them float to the top, even if they don’t intend for them to. I long for their words to fly free, because we never get so clean and naked as when we find the right word for that one elusive emotion. I want each of my friends to feel that when they open the cage of their words in the midst of our group, the plumage will be a source of joy for all, and never a reason to cringe or cower.

Anyway, this post is an homage to my Writers’ Group. I want to link to each of them so that the love can be spread around, but I didn’t get their permissions in advance, so I will come back to that if they say it’s cool.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Friday, you jive turkeys!

Yesterday, I was really jazzed because, after my embittered blog post about the insufferability of writer’s block, I went on to write 2,186 words. I’m entering a part of the story where the only map I have is “tension construction site this way, bring hard hat.” In my first draft, I didn’t do so well at building and releasing tension. I shied away from anyone doing anything too terrible, because people are people and despite having a lot of evidence to the contrary, my brain can’t really accept the fact that people can be absolutely bestial to each other—which makes it hard for me to dream up ways to do that.

It’s actually a bit of a departure from my style to not be able to write despicable characters. Usually, I find that I go way too dark when I imagine narratives. People don’t have normal money problems; they’re prostituting themselves to afford their single bean of a dinner. But with this story, I have to go back through and actually insert cussing. I have to take whatever it was I was going to say, and reimagine it a few shades darker. Otherwise, it’ll come across as pathetic instead of villainous. It’s a weird problem to have, for me. But I think I’m getting there.

I think tension comes from extremes. For example. In our everyday lives, we feel tense about things, and justifiably so. Will the test cover the things we studied? Will we get the promotion? Will I test positive? Did he get my email? Is she mad? These things can cause great tension for us, personally. But if you have a friend who’s telling you about the things that are causing them stress, you’ll feel sympathy for them, but probably no sympathetic tension. BUT: If getting a failing grade on that test means your friend not getting into grad school, or graduating high school—you will probably be hanging on the results. The bigger the stakes, the more tension is built within the conflict. In the context of most stories, bigger stakes usually means more physical danger. (Don’t get mad at me, people who like domestic drama. Those are good too.)

So, how do we balance the danger and the mystery? Too much danger and we give away the answer. Too little, and we feel no tension. It’s a balancing act. For this, we invented the “delete” button—because the nice thing is, we don’t have to do it right the first time. We are performing with a net.

Word count: 26,430 (朾)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writer's paralysis is boring

I think everyone in the grip of writer’s or artist’s block feels isolated, alone, and unique. Block is a scary thing; it feels real, but is entirely intangible. If you’re afraid that someone is breaking into your house, people understand that—it’s violating, potentially dangerous, but especially quantifiable. Block is different. It grips you around the throat of what makes you special and it attempts to kill it. Yet, it’s ghostly. It evades description. But every creative person has felt it, and knows what you mean when you start saying, “I don’t know, it just... I can’t seem to do anything. And that makes me feel worthless...” Every creative person can sympathize.

When I was (much) better about going to the gym, I would talk to my friends who wanted to have better exercise habits. I’d say things like, “you just have to do it. Don’t give yourself time to think, just get up, put on your workout clothes, and get to the gym. The rest will come.” And I’d completely believe myself. It wasn’t until later, when I’d fallen out of the infallible habit of going to the gym every(ish) day, that I understood: my advice wasn’t unknown to my friends; it wasn’t new. It was just that, sometimes it’s impossible to take that advice. You are tired, you are sad, you are stressed, and you are busy. You feel like you deserve a break. You feel like you need a break. And, whether you “let” yourself or not, your brain speaks up—it screams. You can’t block it out, you can’t talk over it, and it apparently has grabbed the strings that control your limbs and it won’t let you move.

Similarly, when I’m in a good writing groove, it seems easy. I talk to my blocked or paralyzed friends and I say, “you just have to do it. Sit down, open the document, read over the last thing you wrote, and start there. It’ll come.” But when I take a break, that advice seems... totally unapproachable. I want to. I just... can’t. It’s like a generator that powers itself. If it stops, there’s no way to get it going again.

Of course, that’s not true. I give good advice. I just have to follow it. I know that. And the voices in our heads—the collective creative—that scream that we can’t do it, that we don’t know how, that our audience will hate us and hate our writing and we’re really just wasting paper/electrons: those voices will fall silent under the crashing waves of our words when we finally let the dam break.

It’s not unique. Everyone goes through it. Everyone staggers under the weight of their own pain and fear. When you describe it to your friends and they nod sagely—or give you well-meaning advice about how to get past it—it feels even heavier. Because we like to feel special, like we’re the only ones who have ever felt this way, like it’s unique and it’s actually crippling, not just personal weakness. It’s disheartening to know that the way through is in. We all want to find the shortcut. We all want it to be easy.

It helps a little knowing that our favorite authors have struggled with the same things. That our favorite books probably took five to fifty drafts before they were published. That the intricate plot threads that seem so ingenious were either accidents or put in after the bones of the story were built. Nothing was created right the first time. Nothing.

I put this here because it continues to be the very best, most lighthearted, humorous, and yet exactly correct advice on writing I have yet found:

joseph-the-mop asked:

I have been trying to write for a while now. I have all these amazing ideas, but its really hard getting my thoughts onto paper. Thus, my ideas never really come to fruition. Do you have any advice?


Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.

I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it. For example: On the top of a distant mountain there grows a tree with silver leaves. Once every year, at dawn on April 30th, this tree blossoms, with five flowers, and over the next hour each blossom becomes a berry, first a green berry, then black, then golden.

At the moment the five berries become golden, five white crows, who have been waiting on the mountain, and which you will have mistaken for snow, will swoop down on the tree, greedily stripping it of all its berries, and will fly off, laughing.

You must catch, with your bare hands, the smallest of the crows, and you must force it to give up the berry (the crows do not swallow the berries. They carry them far across the ocean, to an enchanter’s garden, to drop, one by one, into the mouth of his daughter, who will wake from her enchanted sleep only when a thousand such berries have been fed to her). When you have obtained the golden berry, you must place it under your tongue, and return directly to your home.

For the next week, you must speak to no-one, not even your loved ones or a highway patrol officer stopping you for speeding. Say nothing. Do not sleep. Let the berry sit beneath your tongue.

At midnight on the seventh day you must go to the highest place in your town (it is common to climb on roofs for this step) and, with the berry safely beneath your tongue, recite the whole of Fox in Socks. Do not let the berry slip from your tongue. Do not miss out any of the poem, or skip any of the bits of the Muddle Puddle Tweetle Poodle Beetle Noodle Bottle Paddle Battle.

Then, and only then, can you swallow the berry. You must return home as quickly as you can, for you have only half an hour at most before you fall into a deep sleep.

When you wake in the morning, you will be able to get your thoughts and ideas down onto the paper, and you will be a writer.

And all in all, writer’s block is mundane, everyday, commonplace! It is not new, not to anyone. Complaining about it, looking for shortcuts, trying to figure out how you’re “doing it wrong”... it’s all a waste of your valuable time. The only thing that works—the only thing that works—is writing anyway! So stop being boring! Start writing!

Friday, February 13, 2015

I was right! or Been away..

So, remember how I said that if I stopped writing for a week, it would go back to seeming completely terrifying? Yeah... I was right.

Monday, I was all over everything. Went to the gym, wrote 2,200+ words, and was generally magnificently on-task. But on Tuesday, my tank ran out. I had to have fun, or I would surely die. So, though I had planned to make it to the gym, instead I spent all day playing Don’t Starve, which is my favorite obsession. I’m still not sure why I love that game so much—past a certain point, it’s just easy. I have, like, 80 blow darts and I killed the Deerclops with nothing but tooth traps. It’s getting a mite silly.

So, thusly funned, I approached Wednesday optimistically. I got to the gym in the morning and was hoping to write 4k words to make up for Tuesday, but it turned out that, fun as DS was on Tuesday, my tank was not so filled as to allow me to actually go anywhere on it. So I didn’t write my book and I didn’t write my blog—instead, I spent time trying to catch up on my internet. I managed to get through about half of my Tumblr before Branden got home.

Man, Tumblr is a commitment.

Thursday, we had house cleaners come. Let me tell you, I will happily trade money for spoons. Branden wandered through the house when he got home, blissfully bellowing “so clean!” And I... I ran the errand that I had to run before our trip tomorrow. Other than that, I caught up on Tumblr and Feedly. Didn’t quite feel up to approaching my 112 new messages on deviantArt, though. So, watched Bones and decompressed... some more. Last night, we did last minute get-ready-to-go things, and then slept like piles of kittens.

Which brings us to today.

My travel bottles didn’t all fit into a quart-sized plastic bag, so I had to run out and get some slightly narrower travel bottles. Also, my mom came over with my 2-month-old nephew, and predictably, nothing writerly has gotten done. I did manage to read today’s Tumblr and catch up on dA (which included unsubscribing from a couple of groups whose deviations are never my thing), but I am listening with one ear to make sure that I’m not missing anything important. Needless to say, I don’t have the brain for creative writing... though my mom did just take Declan upstairs so the two of them could lay down.

I’m not convinced that’s a good idea for her—she has to drive back to Denver, and if she left nowish she could probably avoid the awful traffic—but if she sticks around, she can give me a ride to the park ’n’ ride at 4. Color me selfish.

So now I’ll try to get some words down, as I doubt very much that I’ll do any writing from Boise (though I will try, if I have honestly free time). I’ll be flying back on Monday. See you guys then!

Word count: 23,489 (寁)

Monday, February 9, 2015

I've come too far to turn back now!

I got to 1,928 words on Friday before I had to leave to Fort Collins for the book signing. (Spoilers: I finished when I got home.) When I got there, shortly after 3, I found that the line was long. Long long. Around the block... then the next block... then the block after that kind of long. In addition to that, I had neglected the rule that I’m sure was prominent on the website if I had bothered to look: I had to have pre-ordered Gaiman’s new book in order to get a signature. I think there were copies to buy on site, but by the time I got there, I had no confidence there would be any left over to buy when I got to the front of the line.

So, with a heavy heart, I called it a wash and my friends and I went to a late lunch at Coopersmith’s, which was delicious and you should definitely go there, if you have a chance. By the time we were driving back, it was rush hour and there were three separate accidents on I-25, so we took a “long” way (which was a much shorter way, in light of the traffic conditions). All in all, a very nice day—but far from relaxing.

Saturday, I spent almost the entire day cleaning the house. In this instance, when I say cleaning, I mean straightening, organizing, and neatening—not bust-out-the-cleaning-supplies sort of cleaning. And it was still all day long and totally overwhelming. By the time I went to bed, my brain had shut off hours before.

Sunday, we had yet more neatening to do, but it was the much smaller half and we were done by 2:15. Then we had Writers’ Group at 6, to which I was greatly looking forward. But I had writing to catch up on before that, so I wasn’t able to squeeze in more than forty-five minutes of low-key, relaxing “fun time.”

In addition to getting good feedback on my story and getting to give feedback on good friends’ stories (good friends’ good stories?), I also got to see my friend Kevin again for the first time in, what, two years? After Writers’ Group, Kevin, Branden and I went out to dinner at Fire On The Mountain Buffalo Wings... Om nom nom. Then home again with just enough time to fold laundry, brush teeth, have fun for a half hour and go to bed (even so, much too late).

Tl:dr; I didn’t get to fill my fun tank this weekend. Writing usually takes me two hours or longer, and catching up on feeds takes a similar amount of time on a normal day—which today is not, since I didn’t catch up on feeds at all over the weekend. So I don’t see fun in my future this week either. (I really wish that Blogger had emoji, or good image integration. Insert sad face here.)

One of my friends told me to take the day off. I really want to do that. My writing tank is so full and my fun tank is so empty, I’m rolling Willpower every few minutes not to start up Don’t Starve and scream “Fuck it!” into the void.

But I want to finish my book. I want to get the second draft done so that I can start the third draft (hopefully more of an edit and less of a complete rewrite) so that I can put some polish on it and work on getting it published. But what I am having trouble understanding right now is why people would write more than one book in their lives. Don’t they have friends and loved ones who feel their absence? Don’t they have hobbies they’re neglecting or recreational activities they miss?

I must have faith that this angst will pass. Stay the course. No one can write my book but me. I just gotta hang in there.

Word count: 21,066 (削)

Friday, February 6, 2015

A new experience

I’m going to be going to Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins today for Neil Gaiman’s book signing. I’m weirdly nervous. I’ve never been to a book signing, and I have the impression (based on nothing, as far as I know) that Neil Gaiman is super-serious and intimidating. I feel like I’ll hand him my book and he’ll look up at me from under his eyebrows, with his face clearly saying, “and?” and I’ll stammer something hideously stupid, and he’ll shake his head and shrug and scribble something on the page, hand the book back to me and shout, “NEXT!”

But that’s cause I’m crazy and I know it, clap my hands.

In an effort to make sure that I actually get there on time, I’m writing both my blog and my story before checking my comics, Tumblr, and deviantArt. Usually those last two are “where I get my inspiration.” I put that in quotes because it’s always avoidance behavior, and I pretend it’s inspiring, and that’s a harmless pretense most of the time. Today it wouldn’t be, so I’m delaying it until I’ve gotten my “important” stuff done. Go me?

This is actually indicative of huge progress for me, though. I was reading over my blog posts the other day, and had a conversation with a writer friend of mine last night, and I remembered how paralyzed I was so very, very recently. The fact that I look at writing two thousand words a day as a minor annoying chore instead of an insurmountable barrier is... it’s extraordinary, in the true sense of the word. And I know how fragile it is. I know that if I take a week off, the day I try to start again I’ll be crumpled into a little ball and discarded on the floor, emotionally. Once more, there will be a seemingly impenetrable shell around my story and I will want to not even try to crack it.

Long story short, a word-per-day goal really saved my bacon.

I can give good advice to people about getting past their writing anxiety, and it really is good advice... but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to follow. There are so many people on Tumblr asking their favorite authors, “how do I write? It’s so hard, I get so discouraged,” and their advice is always “Just don’t stop, pick yourself up again, and keep writing.” I know from experience that the people are asking not “how do I write” but rather, “how can I have something written without having to write it? Writing is hard and scary,” and the fact that there is no shortcut is baffling. How can there be so many books if there isn’t a shortcut? Writing is too hard for this many people to be doing it. What’s the secret? How do I make it easy? And the fact that when they sit down to write it doesn’t flow right away means that they walk away in frustration and say that writing is just hard.

Well, writing is hard. But if you’re writing something you enjoy, and you make the time for it, the difficulty comes from finding the right words, balancing the tension and release, making sure your story makes sense and works and is interesting—the task seems surmountable, even if difficult, but it now seems challenging, instead of hard. And it’s always scary, that’s for sure. But the more you do it, the less you feel like an intruder or a pretender and the more natural it feels. So unfortunately, the advice “keep writing” is the only advice. There’s something in your head. Get it out. No one will judge you. No one will even know unless you want them to. Write for you. Write because you have to.

That being said, I’m not sure I’m doing a good job on my story. Branden says it’s good so far, but I feel like it’s thin skin spread over bones, and surely everyone can see the bones. But it is not for me to judge the quality of my own work (more good advice), only to do the best job I can.

Fun problem: I went back through a few scenes in my story and added cussing. I didn’t previously realize how G-rated the story was before one of my beta readers pointed out that it’s kinda hard to have a gritty detective novel where no one cusses. Or smokes, or drinks, but that’s sorta plotty so I’m keeping that. Plus I address vice in other areas. (I do think it’s pretty much impossible to have a noir novel without the main character having one or more vices.)

An excerpt:

While I was waiting, I surveyed my domain. I did a daily evaluation of atmosphere; I wanted to make sure that my office gave clients what they wanted. It was on the seventh floor: a long, narrow space squished between two other long, narrow spaces on a long, narrow hallway. I had a window behind the desk that I kept a floor-to-ceiling cupboard pressed up against to block the natural light. Natural light was the gritty detective’s natural enemy, as far as Bogart enthusiasts knew. For my part, I liked to cater to that clientele; it suited my mood. [. . . ] The lampshades in my Seattle office were tea-colored, much more to my liking. I kept an ashtray on the desk and a pack of tobacco cigarettes in my desk drawer even though I didn’t smoke. If I had an appointment, I’d light one and let it burn about halfway before stubbing it out in the ashtray. The lacey curl of smoke climbing ceilingward was an aphrodisiac to people who were romanced by their own mysteries.

How goes your writing, or other creative endeavors, dear reader? Any advice for going to book signings? Let me know in the comments!

Word count: 19,394 (䯂)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Two blogs in two days, lordy lordy

Yesterday, I wrote 4,127 words. Not counting the blog. It took me till 5:30pm and I felt quite burned afterwards. Please excuse me for not having a whole lot to say today.

This morning, I wrote a post for Tumblr about how to give feedback on works in progress, specifically aimed at people who have difficulty with that. Because, well, people who don’t have difficulty with that probably don’t need a guide. *harrumph* Anyway.

So, today I will blog about things that inspire me and things that assist in my writing process. There is no guarantee that this will be interesting.

  • Colors
  • Song lyrics
  • Brilliant original stories, like Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  • Stories about cynical underdogs fighting for justice
  • Stories about angels, apparently
  • Surreal feelings of seeing the exact path life would have taken if a choice were made differently
  • Really cool shoes

Writing Aides:

Did I put those in unordered lists so that my blog post looks longer? Mmmaaayyybbbeee. Did I just stretch out the word “maybe” to put more filler in my post? No, actually, that’s just an added bonus.

Sorry my interesting tank is empty today. I hope to be more engaging on Friday!

Word count: 15,307 (㯋)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

You think you're nearer your destination when in fact you're slip-sliding away

So. You may or may not have noticed, but I failed to blog yesterday. I try to keep a M-W-F schedule, but yesterday... yesterday was one of those days.

In the course of my disease, there are some things I’ve learned that are going to happen. These things happen with the best, most effective medication. There is no real way to predict when it’s going to happen, but it’s most frequently on days after days that I’ve spent a lot of energy, either mentally or physically.

These “things” of which I speak are mostly days on which I can’t—or don’t—do anything. I mean anything. I laid on the couch from 8:30 am till 5:50 pm, only getting up to go to the bathroom or, at about 3:30, pour myself a bowl of cereal (technically my breakfast). I had a cut on my thumb, and the neosporin was about two inches out of my reach, and I just couldn’t be bothered to reach over and get it. I’m slightly amazed that I got up the motivation required to turn on Netflix. I didn’t open my laptop to read my comics or Tumblr.

That level of apathy is, I feel, incomprehensible to a normal, healthy person. I think that that kind of behavior is associated with depression, but for me, it’s not. I’m not depressed. There were moments, yesterday, that I was like, “Elly, you really should eat something. Elly, you could be doing something more fun,” but the fact that I wasn’t eating or having any fun didn’t really bother me.

I spent months and months, possibly years, getting really angry at myself, frustrated, and pretty freaked out when this sort of thing would happen. Then I got therapy, coincidentally with a therapist whose mom has MS, and she helped me understand a few things. These things have been key to not descending into misery and guilt.

  1. Blaming and punishing myself doesn’t help anything. If anything, it makes it more likely to happen.
  2. Sometimes days like that are going to happen, and the most healthy thing to do is acknowledge it and deal with it as it comes, like you would a headache. One doesn’t blame oneself for a headache, or feel guilty for not powering through it, so why should I do that with my fatigue?
  3. It’s a real biochemical thing, not a choice I’m making. Not being able to force myself to get up and be productive isn’t a failing any more than not being able to grow wings and fly.

So I deal with it, and I am kind to myself when it happens, but I won’t pretend it’s a blessing or something to have an unannounced “relaxation” day.

Because it’s not relaxation. There’s a large difference between fatigue and relaxation, which is a thing that a lot of people really fail to understand. It’s a day completely lost. It’s like going to sleep on Sunday night and waking up Tuesday morning. I’m not more rested, really (metaphor aside), and that’s a day of my life that’s gone. The chili I was going to make, the shopping trip I was going to do, those things are still not done. And now there are more things that need doing. (For example, today I’m going to write 4,000 words.) And thinking about that makes things seem overwhelming. I don’t know if this is normal, but a lot of days, the only way I get anything done is to approach it with baby steps, or I don’t get off the couch.

And to me, that’s scary.

Anyway, I don’t want to focus on that, because today is another day.

I am writing as soon as I post this blog. I made a lot of progress over the week, and I’m super excited about that. My current word count is 11,180. I feel like the pacing of my story is good and that I’m going to have more than enough content to reach and surpass 50k, hopefully 75k. Of course, that’s hard to see from here, but I’m getting better at gauging stuff like that. NaNo and the revision have really helped me get a handle on pacing and how much content is actually in a thousand words.

Somehow, this story is very writable. Before I started it, I was writing a different story (which I find I can’t really describe in a sentence), and I would struggle for every word. When last I wrote, my word count was 38,640, and it felt like at least three times that, based solely on how long I spent writing it and how much mental anguish went into it. Despite the fact that my writers’ group was enjoying it and giving me kudos, I hated it more and more every time I wrote. This story isn’t like that; for all my insecurities, I still write like a house afire when I can focus long enough to do it.

And that is exciting, and encouraging. We’ve got writers’ group this weekend and I’m very excited for it, even though, as I’ve said in other posts, feedback on a work in progress is only so helpful.

So, do you have hard days? Are you making progress on your stories or revisions? Let me know in the comments!