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:~: Monday, August 07, 2006 :~:

The Little Things Get You Going

So Nationals is over and everyone's come home totally charged to write, right?

Um. No. Not me.

Gosh, I wish that were true. In my case, at least, it hasn't been.

Last year I came home from Reno pumped up and ready to write. But last year I had a 6-mo. old who basically slept, laid on the floor, and didn't demand too much attention. This year I have an 18-mo. old who likes to pull on my leg, whine in my ear, empty EVERY single cupboard and drawer I have, then scream at the top of his lungs. And he really really REALLY likes to bug his older siblings who (also) like to scream at the top of their lungs. As you can imagine, not much concentrating going on here during the day.

This summer has been a lot more challenging for me writing-wise. The last time I actually "wrote" something new was in May when I finished my then-current manuscript. Then school ended, our routine went out the window, and I haven't been able to bleed out so much as a paragraph. Add to that crazy vacations, interrupted naps, and heat that makes me dog-tired, and by the time everyone's in bed and I actually have a few moments of peace, the last thing I feel like doing is writing.

In one of Nora's speeches at Nationals, she said that writing is a habit. You write because it keeps you writing. When you stop, you get out of the habit and it makes jumping back into it that much harder. Truer words were never spoken. I've made thousands of excuses about why I'm not writing, tell myself it's okay because I'm constantly plotting my new book in my head and researching whenever I have time, but all of that is still not the same as sitting down at the computer and putting words on paper (or screen, as the case may be.)

So what's the deal?

I don't know. Allison Brennan blogged about fear last week over at Murder She Writes. The post stuck with me because while I'm not in the same situation, I do have to admit there's a little fear going on inside me. Fear that the new book won't be as good as the last. Fear that I'll pick the wrong direction - dark vs. lighter, snarky vs. serious. Fear that I'm wasting my time. Fear that in the long run I don't really have what it takes. Facing those fears was a big step in the right direction, and while it didn't exactly get me writing, it did get me thinking about just what's holding me back.

So Friday I was chatting via IM with good friend and fellow writer, Lisa Pulliam, wasting time as I'm known to do. Poor Lisa was trying to plot out her new book, and I was taking the opportunity to distract her because I'm so not a plotter. (Hey, we were going through separation anxiety since Nationals.) We ended up chatting about nothing in particular and the conversation shifted toward superheroes. Now, being girls, we didn't really care about what type of power we'd have as superheroes, we only cared about what outfit we'd wear (yes, shallow, I know, but this is how I waste time). Lisa came up with her pink outfit (she's obsessed with pink), and I said no, and gave her a better one. And then POOF. I had a vision. The beginning of a scene if you will. So I opened a word doc and jotted it down. Then I sent it to her (laughing like a hyena) and waited while she added to it and sent it back.

Was there fear? Nope. I wasn't working on the new book, I was just goofing around, so it didn't matter if I wrote total crap or not. It was just for fun. But guess what happened? While I was waiting for Lisa to write her part, I actually opened the new book and DID write something. Before I knew it, I had almost 12 pgs written.

OMG! 12 pages? I haven't written 12 pages in longer than I can remember. And definitely not in less than an hour.

Since then I've added to the first chapter, I've even added to the writing exercise Lisa and I started. I wasn't planning on writing, but now I am. And damn, it feels good. I'd almost forgotten how good it feels to have words flow from my fingertips. Writing is a habit, and once you get out of that habit, it's so hard to get back into it. I've tried all the exercises people chat about to get you writing again - watching movies, blogging, brainstorming, dancing naked in my living room hoping to get the creative juices flowing (try this only if your drapes are closed, by the way), and none of them worked. For me, it was the littlest tiniest thing that got me going again - something I totally didn't plan on.

So I can officially say I am now excited about the new book. Fearful still - there will always be fear - but excited and ready to go. That's a cool place to be. Did I write last night? Yep. Will I write tonight? Yes. Even if it's crap. When I finally get that "call" and the person on the other end of the line asks, "what else do you have?", I want to be able to say, "'Currently I'm working on..."

Share your fears. What holds you back, and how do you get past them? I'd love to hear what works for you.

5Comments:

Blogger Lisa Pulliam said...

What she forgot to mention was that if she were a superhero she would wear a black leather catsuit :-) You totally gave me a better outfit. If only I could find it online...

I promise I'll write the next scene today. Isn't it funny that when it's my turn to write I end up with more romantic suspensish stuff and when it's your turn it's more paranormal stuff? Broadening our horizons, lol.

I'm so happy you started writing! I had no idea that you were tearing it up while I was dilly-dallying with my scene. :-)

As far as my fears, the big one I had up until a week ago when I was working on my vampire series was that a) vamps would be out when I was ready to submit and b) my story wouldn't unique enough in the crowded market. I also worry that my craft isn't developed enough and that I'll never *get it*. But do people ever fell like they *get it*?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

12 pages?! Yay! And isn't new-book excitement the best?

Fears, fears, fears . . . um, too many to list! Not ever finishing the WIP, Jess not liking either of the other MS's I sent her, no one buying WMM, not being able to balance writing, working and grad school . . . it goes on and on.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

I don't know, Lisa. I think we need a published author to answer that question. LOL

And yes, Lin, new book excitement is the best.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Elisabeth,

That's exactly what I'm trying to do, establish a habit. 1 1/2 hours in the morning before work and another 1 1/2 at night when I get home.

Writing for me is much easier if I do it daily. It's like the daily work keeps my mind lubricated.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Lisa,

My crit partner has sold eight books now, has four in print, has won tons of awards for her last one-- and I honestly think she is much more insecure about her writing now, than she ever was before she sold.

From what I'm seeing, from the people I know who've sold-- none of them seem to think they *finally got it.* Rather they all seem to feel like they've jumped into the deep, only to discover they didn't actually know how to swim.

6:38 AM  

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