[writing] dry spells can be natural

IMG_4877If I’m being honest, I am amazed by writers who write every day. I’m amazed by writers who can sit down and hash out a novel in one month. I’m amazed by writers who plot and plan and schedule and stick to it. I’m amazed by writers, period.

But there comes a time in every writer’s life, at least I believe this to be true, that they can’t do any of it. They sit to write and instead end up on Twitter for hours. They schedule writing time and instead settle down with a good book (or a binge-worthy Netflix show). They plot out a novel for the perfect month and then they have something come up that soaks up the time they had for writing, making them unable.

Life happens. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, writing doesn’t happen.

I am in a season of life where writing is very difficult. Not because I don’t make time to write, or because I don’t have a WIP ready for my attention- but because I’m so mentally wiped that even in my scheduled time, my brain is fried. If you’ve been where I am before, or you’re in the trenches of a hard-to-write-season with me- never fear. I have heard there’s light at the end of it, and whether this season lasts for a day, month, or years- here are a few uplifting things to remember.

It won’t last forever.

You are a writer, an author. You have written before and you will write again. Because if you are a true writer, the words of your stories and the stories of others make up your core in a way that you can never escape them. This season of life might be hard, and the well of creativity might run dry at the end of the day. Whether it’s because you are chasing little kids around day in and day out, or you’re starting a new job, or you’re going through some health issues, or someone you love has health issues– there could be so many reasons I can’t even continue, but whatever it is- know that it’s normal.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

As a writer, it’s hard not to see the success rate of others and play the comparison game. Whatever “success” looks like to you, remember that you are succeeding. Your life experiences, even the dry spells, contribute to your writing fuel. Some day you’ll sit down and remember what it was like to have no words, and spit out thousands onto a new page. Celebrate that you’re reading a book, or gaining experiences for a story, or blogging to keep those words flowing (woot woot). Don’t be hard on yourself. Celebrate yourself, because you need it now more than ever.

Just keep going.

Push through the season.

More than that, enjoy it. Enjoy this season of life- even if it sucks.

You might be craving the feeling of your fingertips brushing keyboard keys in a way that makes your head spin because the words are coming faster than your fingers can type. You might be reading someone else book and feeling as though you can do that, and start feeling low because you haven’t done it in a long time. You might be mad at this season because all you want to do is sit down and write and you feel a little robbed of your passion because it is who you are.

All of these things are normal, my friends.

Every writer who is a true writer will not walk away from it. You will come back for more, and the world will be waiting for your masterpieces.

 

how do you make your writing goals stick?

img_0009Making writing goals and plans can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s even a bigger challenge to follow through with them.

As writers, we are challenged with having two parts of our lives– the writing part, and the other part. The balance can be a nightmare sometimes, and other times we wonder why others complain about not having the time to do what they love.

It’s understandable. That’s life, after all.

But what happens during those times that feel like we’ve stepped into a horror film? Those times that the plans you wrote down for the day (or the week, or the month) slip away and we find ourselves wordless and feeling lousy?

MAKE SACRIFICES

Oftentimes we don’t write because we feel like something else is more important, or it’s just distracting us. If that pile of laundry in the corner is laughing at you as you try to hash out a scene, tell it to shut-up and keep going.

It’s OK to let the laundry sit for a day so you can write, or the dishes, or the dusting– or whatever it is.

If it’s not house work, and you think your distraction is far more important– it’s up to you to decide what to sacrifice so you can get your writing time in.

PLAN AHEAD

Not good at making sacrifices? Plan ahead. Get that project done before the due date so you have time to enjoy your own writing. Make some freezer meals (or even order a pizza) to have the troops fed so you can snuggle in without interruptions (maybe). Know when you’re writing time is and make sure to prep for it.

You might never have all your bases covered, but you can come as close as possible with a little planning.

TAKE IT ONE WORD AT A TIME

Goals can be scary. And if they’re not scary, that usually means they’re not “big enough”… or so I’ve been told. The thing is, you don’t want to make your goals so outrageous that you feel overwhelmed just thinking about them.

Take your goals one word at a time. If your goal is to write 5k words in one week and you only make 3k, that’s OK! Pick up the slack the next week, or by the end of the month. The great thing about it all is you are your worst critic.

Don’t want to miss out on those 2k words? Enlist a Critique Partner or Writing Buddy that will keep you accountable. Just remember that sometimes the words come slower at times of stress and busy-ness than they do when the other part of your world is all rainbows and unicorns.

It’s so important to make our writing a priority and meeting those goals. Not only for ourselves, but for our future readers as well. But it’s never going to be easy (unless you’re a full time writer, and even then that’s debatable), and it’s always going to take work. What makes you different is you’re already halfway there– because you’ve started, you’re making the time!

You’re not just saying, I want to write a book

you’re actually doing it.

new year, new writing

img_2251It’s hard to believe we are ten days into the new year already. With a new year always comes new expectations, and as a writer it’s hard not to set that bar high with goals and aspirations for the next twelve months.

After all, it’s a new year- with no mistakes in it.

Yet.

Maybe you want to make up for what you didn’t do last year. Maybe you want to be more consistent with your blog, your marketing, your WIP, your planning, your pantsing– maybe all of the above. Whatever the case, remember to give yourself some breathing room. Just because it’s a new year does not mean everything is going to change over night.

After Christmas and before New Year’s Eve, I sat down and planned out my blogging for the next three months. I have high hopes for sticking to it, and doing the same thing in March before my plans are up.

I know I can do it. The question is will I make the time to do it.

With the blogging I planned out my timelines for my current projects. One by Valentine’s Day, the other by June. Both projects need editing and, well, one needs to be completely finished. Once again, I know I can do it. The question is will I make the time to do it.

If y’all have any advice as to how to stick to goals and timelines, by all means toss them my way. But since I’m usually in the position to share, I thought I’d put before you what normally keeps me going.

STAY CALM & SEIZE/MAKE TIME

Even just ten minutes a day of writing means that I’ve done something. Or an hour a week. Or thirty minutes one evening. I don’t have to sit down and force myself to write every day (although I know some authors do, and I am thoroughly impressed but this). I do have a life outside my writing life, and have a lot going on, at that, in that other whole side of things. But I also know I’ll be more than disappointed in myself if I don’t do my best to reach these goals. And the best way to do that- is to stay calm, and seize the time that’s before me, and make time when it’s not 100% there.

BEND BUT DO NOT BREAK

Life happens. Plot holes happen. Murphy strikes and things are lost. I must allow myself to be flexible to these things so I do not break. Because if I am rigid and think that everything has to happen a certain way, I most certainly will break. We must bend with the outside world that has nothing and everything to do with our writing, but we must not let it break us– because then our writing would never make it.

BE THANKFUL, HUMBLE, & PROUD

Be thankful for all that you have already, especially when you don’t meet your goals. This is something I struggle with no and again, but something that is constantly on my mind and heart. I must be thankful, because without my friends, family, jobs, other activities, support– I wouldn’t be able to chase the author dream of mine.

Be humble in every way possible. Accept help if people offer it, so that you might apply it to your writing whenever possible. Do not brag about accomplishments or things that seem like big achievements or success, because nearly all of those things can be lost at some point.

Be proud. It is possible to be proud and humble at the same time. Be proud of what you accomplish. Be proud of your failures. Be proud of your dreams. These things help make up who you are, and you have worked so very hard for them. Keep them close to your heart. They, along with all the support and love in your life, will help you continue to believe in yourself.

This was a bit sappy, I know. But it’s January, am I right? I’ll sharpen up as the months pass by, promise!

paperback writer

I have a confession: I’m in a stalemate with my current project. Every time I sit down to write, I can’t seem to get into the groove.

My characters sound like they’re verbally constipated.

My descriptions have lost their senses.

My attitude is leaning toward obligation rather than passion.

Sometimes, writing is this way. We can’t get around it. There are times when we stare at our project and want to walk away and just start something new in order to avoid this feeling all together.

(Which I would never do… or maybe I’ve already done just that? Temporarily, of course.)

But if we never finish the project, we will never continue down the road of “success” as authors. And that road is paved differently for everyone.

Have you ever heard the song “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles? I’m pretty terrible with my music knowledge, but my dad used to play it for me nonstop because he was certain it was my future.

At least, to be a writer.

I don’t think he meant that I was going to be begging to sell my soul with the rights to my book to make a million overnight. Which isn’t entirely the point of my song, but you catch my drift.

The point is, sometimes you have to accept the mood you’re in and find a way to push through. It’s hardest to take my own advice, but if I don’t I’m going to end up like the song– just wishing and thinking I’ll add more in a week or two, never reaching the end of the manuscript and wasting my dreams away.

Yikes. That sounded like a TERRIBLE rain cloud.

This is why I’m blogging right now instead of writing. Because I have no idea where my characters are. I know the story, but man…my poor MC is going through hell and I just don’t think I’m doing her justice.

Now I’m word vomiting while my characters sound stuck.

I think I’ll stop here and leave you wondering….

 

Maybe not.

 

I started a new project, plotted another, and now I’m back to working on the WIP. Sometimes, you have to empty your mind of what you see as distractions in order to get back to where you are really needed.

The life of the writer. Sometimes, it sounds more like a psychiatrist (er, or psychopath?) than anything else.