Last semester, I was sitting in my mass communication class listening to a guest speaker. I managed to compile six pages worth of notes for the “take-home” assignment; however, there was no take-home assignment. Uh-oh!
My professor stood in front of the class and told us that we had the remaining hour to write a report on the guest speaker’s presentation.
I nearly choked on my breath. An hour!? I needed much more time than that. I had to mull over the information, slap together a rough draft, and edit it until I thought it was acceptable (I say acceptable because, in my eyes, everything I do can be better).
You can bet your left arm that I was stressing.
But I eventually realized that I was wasting time worrying and just started to write. In the end, my report came out great!
I know what you’re thinking: That’s great, Desiree, but what does this have to do with creative writing and over researching?
Don’t get testy.
My point is that some writers, me included, wont commit a single word to a page unless they’ve thoroughly researched a subject (for fiction, I’ll usually research things like plot theory, character technique, or whatever else). Sure, research is awesome! It can make you feel super-uber smart (and who doesn’t want to feel that way?); but it can become an elaborate reason to not write.
Eventually, enough is a enough! Research must be cancelled so creativity/writing, not editing or fact checking, can take the stage.
Can you relate to my experience? What’s your view on over researching?
Rejection stinks worse then a cow in the summer. But, just like cow funk, they’re out there. Don’t be deterred! Stay strong. In fact, these authors were rejected by publishers. To bad for them…the publishers I mean…
Jules Verne’s rejection for his Paris in the Twentieth Century:
“…If you were to reread it one year from now, you would surely agree with me. It is tabloidish, and the topic is ill-chosen.
I was not expecting perfection–to repeat, I knew that you were attempting the impossible–but I was hoping for something better.”
Stephen King’s Carrie:
“We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
William Golding’s Lord of Flies:
“…an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
Of course not, in fact, “burning out” comes with the territory! It’s a fact of writerly life. I read a post by Chuck Windig that I thought was really helpful. Be warned, Chuck is very…colorful. 🙂
Problem: You flared up and burned out and now you’re naught but a crispy charcoal briquette. Your internal creative space looks like what’s left after a house-fire. You’re tired. Exhausted, even.
Solution: Jeez, take a break. Step away from the story or I’ll Taser you right in the naughty bits. Go reward yourself for working so hard. Have some ice cream. Go for a walk. Build a Lamborghini from the bones of your enemies. Don’t go away from your story for too long. A few hours. A day or two or three. We spend a ton of IEP (Intellectual Energy Points) on our work and our life, so go, recharge, let your creative juices once more pickle your headcheese. Then get back to work with fresh eyes. Bring coffee. Because coffee.
I may not be doing all of the…interesting suggestions that Chuck talks about…but I still have to find a creative outlet during my “burn outs”.
So I play on my violin (which may drive my neighbors nuts), go read, or play tons of video games. There’s something about each of those activities that really loosens me up. Maybe it’s because I’m focusing all of my “IEP” on something else. WHICH is the overall mission!
After typing in the last letters to your manuscript you jump up and down in excitement. You should! You put a lot of effort into that slosh pile of words! But…is that the end to it? Or is it just the beginning?
I don’t mean to scare you but…failure may be out there.
Failure is always around us, like the wind, but that doesn’t mean I’m afraid of it.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk discusses writing through your failures. It was inspiring to me and I hope it will be to you too!
Last week I said to always find the time to write. But how much are you suppose to write? Should you write your entire quota of words? What if you can’t? Is that being lazy?
I mean…everything we do is drizzled with perfection! Every human on Earth had or has straight A’s. We are all star athletes. Heck, I’m next in line to be the President of the United States! Surely we are all flawless people who can always write our entire quota of words.
We aren’t perfect.
There will be those does where you can’t (or just don’t feel like) fulfilling your daily word quota. It just happens. However:
No words means that your story is going nowhere. Some words means that your story is going…somewhere.
Write! Even if it’s just 100 or 50 words. Make your story go somewhere.
There’s sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, and twenty-four hours in a day but is that enough time to write? Pssh, if only.
For me, studying has made time is as expensive as buying a brand new Lamborghini. What about you? Do you work? Do you go to school? Kids? How much time does your responsibilities take away from your writing?
Go ahead, tell me…
Wow, that sounds bad but guess what: you aren’t ever going to have time to write. Harsh? Well life usually is.
But (like etching a statue with no stone, breathing with no air, or moving with no leg room) you have to make time when there is none.
I don’t mean to get philosophical with you but if you’re serious about writing–or anything–you’ll do what you have to do to make sure that it’s done.
Four days into Camp NaNoWriMo and the delete key is trying to possess me. Just a few moments ago I was tempted to enter the “select all” command and punch in the delete key. But then I reminded myself of something:
First drafts are meant to be written horribly.
You aren’t suppose to think about the sentence structure or if the story makes sense. It’s about having fun! So, if you’re suffering from post writer’s block (like me), I want you to take a step back and breathe.
And remember that you can tear the manuscript to shreds later on. Promise!
Hands you the holy water
See if that helps.
So how’s your Camp NaNoWriMo, A to Z challenge, or NaPoWriMo coming along?
I don’t know about you, but writer’s block has a tendency to ambush me in gorilla warfare fashion. I can’t afford any surprise attacks during Camp NaNoWriMo. Afterall, camp is suppose to be fun! So I prepared a list of evasive maneuvers that’ll keep me on my writerly toes.
Read Before Writing
When I first participated in NaNoWriMo I had fun during the first few days. Then after a week I started to slow down and procrastinate. In order to keep myself excited about writing I read for fifteen minutes before committing words to my manuscript. It worked like a charm.
Read After Writing
People usually stretch when they’re done exercising. The same should go for writing! I read for an extra fifteen minutes after a writing sessions just to cool down my imaginative muscle.
Write Without Restrictions
Having no restrictions on your imagination is easier said then done. But once you write without worrying about the way something sounds you’ll end up surprising yourself.
Outlines Aren’t Set in Stone
Don’t waste your energy struggling to keep close to your outline. It’s okay to veer away from it. Welcoming new ideas is a good thing not a bad thing.
Absolutely NO Editing
You can always do this after you’re done writing something. But doing it at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Ignore that inner critic, you can do it!
Freewriting or flash fiction is the equivalent of a warm up before a jog. I just sit back and write down whatever comes to mind. Once I’ve gotten in my creative groove, I jump into my manuscript.
Keep A Notebook Handy
I often tell people that I write even when I’m not in front of a computer. It’s true! I’m always—always—thinking up new ideas, themes, scenes, or whatever. But I can’t keep up with every thought. So I keep a notebook (or some device) around to log my flash thoughts into.