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Crap – I stopped again

November 21st, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
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You join me at the end of a poor week for writing. Well, for my writing, anyway. I previously blogged about a break, asking if it’s a good idea. Well, despite my intentions it seems I’ve had a break anyway.

No big drama here; no tragedy in my life (thankfully); no excuse. I simply fell off the wagon for a week. And at the beginning of a new project, too! It’s true that I have been particularly tired and grumpy this week, but the sad fact is that when I got on the train I just couldn’t (wouldn’t, rather) be bothered.

Not wanting to analyse it too much, there are a couple more contributing factors. I’ve been working on the principle that writing begets more writing. I think that’s true. The more practice you get; the more you keep to a routine, the easier it becomes to just fall into that rythm. But I also think that not writing begets… more not writing (there is, undoubtedly, a better way of saying that).

It’s that old formula of, “the longer you leave it, the harder it becomes,” in microcosm. Simply put, if I don’t knuckle down and do something on Monday, I greatly reduce the chances that I’ll do something on Tuesday. And so on.

Of course, the only cure is to just get on and bloody do it. And perhaps it is worth remembering that how I start the week is just as important as how I finish it.

The second problem is to do with the fact that I am starting something new. I have some anxieties about starting something from scratch without knowing precisely where it’s going. On the other hand, meticulous planning saps some of the joy out of writing, so I thought I’d give the more improvisational approach a go. Craig has written a bit about this, and I’ve added some comments if you want to read more.

So, I’ve written a grand total of two scenes for a new novel, and already the anxiety of not knowing has got to me! They’re good scenes, too. The problem here is not that I don’t know what’s coming next (that’s kind of the point, after all), but that each new section is like starting all over again (I want to use the microcosm word again) – a little journey into the unknown.

The way to make this easier, I’ve decided is not to stop writing when I finish a scene (section, chapter, whatever). The pause I take in between makes that first step look much more daunting. Instead, when I finish a section I must plough on, straight into the next one, and stop at a point where I already know what’s coming next; even if I only know as far as the next paragraph. The point is I can start writing as soon as I next sit down and get straight into a flow. I have even seen some writers recommend stopping mid-sentence, just to keep that sense of flow going, and that sounds like a great idea to me.

So here’s a list of notes-to-self to go with this little review:

  • Just bloody do it.
  • Work hard right at the beginning of the week and I’ll find it easier to continue
  • If I do fall off the horse, get straight back on! Don’t let the cycle build.
  • Face the fear and anxiety (then kick it in the nuts)!
  • Stop mid-scene
  • Stop mid-sentence

I hope these tips for keeping writing will help others as well. I’ll stick to these and let you know how it goes. Any other tips are of course very welcome in the comments.