Time to re-focus

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I’m annoyed at myself right now. It’s just that my writing has been sub-par lately; at least, that’s how it feels to me.

It’s two things, actually. The first is, as usual, my book. I wrote nearly a whole new chapter last week, and last night before bed I read over it again, and it’s SHITTY. I can tell I am trying to rush the story along because I’m tired of the point of the story I’m currently struggling with… it reads choppy and it doesn’t feel authentic to two of my main characters that they would gloss over something potentially important in the way I wrote it. I just wanted to write a scene with a stupid airplane in it. And I did, but everything new that’s leading up to it simply doesn’t work.

I know what I did wrong, too. I wrote it in my living room with the TV on, where I was constantly distracted by not only the TV but my adorable but frickin’ annoying pets. (I don’t have regular TV on when I write: I turn it to a Music Choice channel… but if I hear a good new song, I find that I want to look it up online.) The cats want to climb all over me, and Hurley paces and whines and stands on my leg to get my attention. I’m going to have to start writing in my office with the door closed. Sure, they’ll all raise a fuss outside the door for a while, but I like to think they’d get the hint after a while and calm down.

The second writing-thing I’m not happy about is my humorous writing. I’m not doing it much at all, and I do have fun being that free and goofy. I’m like the last person on the planet to get into The Bloggess, but she’s really so good at what she does. She is weird and proud of it, and so very random and just the kind of person I’d love to hang out with in real life. I remember when I used to write my old blog, and it had an entirely different tone than this blog. I used to amuse myself with my own stupid stuff! It was nice to make myself laugh, if no one else. I miss it. So, I think I want to give it a shot again and just have fun. It feels good. And I do have piles of random thoughts in my head all the time… I might as well spew more of it out. I do it in spurts on Facebook and to a lesser extent, Twitter, but yeah: I think I need to focus on funny writing again.

The good news, I can perfect both of these writing ‘projects’ simultaneously, since they’re quite different but writing for fun is still writing for fun, and if I do one form of it, the other often follows. Any writing is better than NO writing.

I have to keep telling myself that, when I read some of my more shitty work. You can’t win ’em all, they say. No big deal. I’ll just go back and pick up at that last decent spot I left off, and write a more focused, honest scene that still gets me to the next half of my book. This is such an important transition in the story, I think I am psyching myself out and forgetting that I can just have fun with it. FOCUSED fun.

I need to remember the following mantra more often. It’s on the wall in my cubicle, but I think I need to post it at home, too:

WRITE.

Even though you have other things to do.

Even if it sucks.

Even though it’s hard.

Even though there are no guarantees.

Even if no one else cares.

REVISE.

Even though it’s difficult to be objective.

Even if you think you got it right the first time.

Even though you hate it.

Even if you’re sure it’s a waste of time.

SUBMIT.

Even if it’s to a small, non-paying publication.

Even if you feel you’re not ready.

Even if you hate rejection.

Even if you know you’ll never be accepted.

REPEAT.

You’re a writer. Act like one.

You know what I don’t have? Photos of myself actually writing. I only have this one, and it amuses me greatly. It’s from the summer of 1988, I think. I was just starting to write my second book, Wounded Bird, on this vacation to Lake George. Someone in my family took this picture, and it really captured the grouchy essence of the teenage me. Look at that sour face! What a sullen little shit I was.

But you know what? I was WRITING all the time back in those days. Every single damn day. That’s how I finished my first book, and then that second book.

I want to finish stories again.

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3 responses »

  1. Yet again, we’re in the same place. I’m hoping to brand my blog and do something like the bloggess, because it would be great to actually make money off writing. I’m not as funny when I write, but I know I “can” be.

  2. Yes! Yes to writing! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to print that list of yours and put it up where I can see it every day. I tell myself those things, but it’s different (I imagine) to have it constantly staring you in the face. My problem is when I get frustrated I don’t want to keep writing if I’m just spewing out crap, so I “take a break” which turns into a longer break, and then into Not Writing. I’m at risk of doing that again, and I really don’t want to. I hope that list helps me.

  3. ANY writing is good for us to do. I am constantly telling myself this lately! I feel like I need to stop doing that thing where I feel like if I can’t do a lot of writing in one sitting, it’s not worth doing. It’s kind of like that mental trap we do with exercise sometimes (or at least I do): I think that doing just 15 minutes worth of exercise isn’t good enough– I MUST do an hour or something to make it mean anything. That’s bullshit, of course. I wonder why we do that? Why psychologically we search for all these outs when it comes to doing the things that challenge our daily status quo? Ugh.

    Oh, and please do copy that list, Fraulein! I copied it from some other writer a few years ago myself. I can’t even remember where it was, but it’s definitely helpful to see it right there, every day, in front of me. I hope it works for you!

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