Monday, July 11, 2011

When writing is hard work

I write because I love writing. I love crafting sentences. I love breathing life into characters. I love inventing new worlds.

But sometimes it's hard work.

Sometimes it's not about beautiful words and quirky characters, but going through my draft chapter by chapter, finding every mention of one character, and rewriting the scene to include a different character (yes, I'm into the nitty gritty of Combining Characters, which I wrote about last Monday).

I know all this work is making Project Demo better, which is exciting. And it's not like I'm sweating, or miserable, or have a nasty boss who says terrible things about me behind my back. I'm just a little bored.

How do you write when you don't feel like writing?

Do you trick yourself? My tutor Julia once said she makes a game of it, pretends she's really looking forward to it. She puts on fun music, makes herself a nice cup of tea, and jumps into the writing.

Or perhaps you reward yourself? Bribe yourself?

Any advice? Commiseration?

I'm hoping to have a complete, READABLE draft of Project Demo done by this weekend. I'm saying it here so I can force myself to make it happen!


  1. Good luck! Just think how good you are going to feel when you have it done at the end of the week. You'll get there one page at a time.


  2. Writing really is hard work.
    I set small goals--what I want to accomplish that day. I also take breaks during the day to go outside or do something for 10 or 30 minutes. That helps too.

  3. Sometimes I trick myself into it by saying I'll just read the draft or the chapter or whatever. Somehow *just reading* feels less overwhelming. Of course, I never just read. I do end up working on the manuscript. :)

    As a last resort, there's always chocolate... Just repeat: If I finish today's work, I can have a piece of chocolate.

  4. Elisabeth: I think that's it! I get so overwhelmed by thinking how much there is to do, better to focus on just one page a time. And how great it will all feel at the end!

    Sarah: I set small goals, too, so there's an accomplishment every day. But I like the idea of taking a break from it all for just a few minutes. I can see how that would help me feel better when I returned to work (also probably be good for my health, too!).

    Andrea: Hah! I've been using the chocolate technique today!

  5. On days when the writing isn't flowing, I revise. Sometimes revising what I wrote the day before is enough to spark ideas and get me writing again. If not, I turn to a book I love. I'm easily inspired by great authors.

  6. I've got one favorite trick. I tell myself I only have to write one sentence. Once I get started, it's hard to stop and the rest is usually history.

    When I'm stuck in a story, I find going for a walk helps.

    Then there's always BIC glue.

    Enjoy your day!

  7. Kelly: Such a good point, sometimes I forget what an inspiration other writers are!

    Angelina: I could use some of that BIC glue! But just as you said, today I sat down, after several minutes of pacing and fretting, and forced myself to work. And an hour later I was still going strong, completely absorbed.

    Thankfully I'm not the only writer (by a long shot!) struggling with writing. While perusing my Google Reader this afternoon, I was shocked by how many similar posts I read.

    Here's Nova Ren Suma (helped with an incredible telegram from Dorothy Parker):

    Here's agent Betsy Lerner:

    Thanks everyone! I'm already feeling motivated! Or at least, in good company! ;)

  8. I do what you did: I tell other people what I'm working toward, and I also often promise a draft, scene, etc. to someone by a certain time. Then I HAVE to work on it because someone is expecting it.

  9. Anna: Yes, totally true, and it's worked like a charm the past two days! Hopefully I can keep going on that shame factor. ;)

  10. I was thinking about this today. I enjoy writing and sitting and thinking about a phrase, a metaphor, or stumbling around for the right detail YET I resist writing with everything in me.

    All I can figure out is that I work best when I have a teeny-tiny piece in front of me. Then I'm not looking at all that is left, but only that small piece that I can accomplish.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me know I'm in very good company!

  11. Bridgette: Good to know I'm in such good company, too!

    When I first started writing, I made a pact that whenever I felt like writing, I would, no matter what time of day, what else I had to do, etc. It was for the same reason as you say, because so often I resist it so completely! Isn't that funny. I really wonder why our minds do that to us.

    But yes, making manageable tasks and goals really does help--that's the only way I got through my writing this morning! Good luck with yours!


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