December Musings

Yeah, so in November I started pretty strong with the kick-off for NaNo, but by mid-month I was falling behind and stressing too much. I’ve done NaNo four times, so I know what it takes, but this year I’m so involved in paying projects (in addition to a full-time job) that my NaNo work-in-progress just had to go on the back burner. On the plus side, I have about 24,000 words of a novel that I think I can finish outlining to have a decent story.

The other plus was unexpected: once I made the decision to put my novel aside, it was as though a weight was lifted off my shoulders because I gave myself permission to not do something. That had repercussions for my contract work, too, and I felt like the massive writer’s block that I’ve had for months dissolved. Since the end of November I’ve had a couple of days to organize my workload and set specific task goals that are doable.

I also cut back my step-count exercise goal (10,000 steps a day) because I was almost never reaching it. At some point this led to a failure mentality and eventually I fell off the exercise bandwagon. By readjusting my goals to something just a little beyond reach — 7,000 steps a day — I’ve made it easier to tell myself that I can do it if I just take a few more steps. Last week I made my step goals six out of seven days, and that’s a new first for me. Don’t laugh, but much of my “workout” is going up and down the stairs or jogging in place. I live in a pedestrian-unfriendly area and sometimes just getting ready to go out turns out to be a way to avoid doing anything, so for now this is a start.

At Corrugated Sky we’re working on getting our third anthology ready for its release in February 2019. This one is called Cold as Death and will be four stories about zombies.

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Thursday Writing Prompt No. 120

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This is your stop. No matter what you are working on creatively, stop working on it right now and force yourself to do something else. Make some coffee, sweep the garage, or write some bills. You won’t believe how eager you’ll become to get back to working on what you want to work on.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about finding the drive to finish a project. I seem to have lost mine (momentarily, I hope) because I got derailed onto things I had to do for work and for the house. When I finally had some down time last night I couldn’t bring myself to look at my project. So what gives? If I want to work on it, why is there that block preventing me from doing so?

It’s because I’m angry. Work is incredibly frustrating right now and I’m letting it drag me down. I can’t. I shouldn’t. But there: I rebel against should. I don’t like being told what to do, even by myself.

When I’m so angry I turn back to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for inspiration. I can’t say I’m incredibly spiritual, but there’s something about what she writes about and the way she says it that resonates with me. It’s also the one writing book that I pick up again and again and again.

So, to get my own lazy behind back on track with my projects, and as a nod to chapter three in Julia Cameron’s book, “Recovering a Sense of Power,” this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt will address how to deal with anger and writer’s block. Cameron writes that answered prayers are scary because they imply that you have power and responsibility for what you ask for. Let’s put that to work, shall we?

Your task this week (and mine) is to write a prayer in which you ask for what you want. This is much harder than it seems, believe me. Put in as much work as it takes to get this sorted out in your mind. Then, write it up, turn it into art, and put it somewhere that you can see it every time you write and every time you feel that you’ve lost your way. We all need a road map from time to time.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 67

I seem to be procrastinating on my NaNo novel. It’s not as though I’m doing nothing, though. I have work and plenty of things around the house to keep me busy. But what I’m doing is spreading myself thin with writing assignments. On one hand, there’s a certain amount of momentum that develops that keeps me humming along with projects, but this past week has been so slow with my novel that I’m starting to think that I am just looking for excuses.

So, this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about excuses. We will clear away the mental cobwebs and jump-start the writing process by making a list of the most ridiculous things we can come up with for why we aren’t writing — whether that writing is a research paper, a proposal for work, a poem, or even your NaNo novel.

Now, take a sheet of paper and make a list of 5-10 reasons why you are not writing or why your writing is stuck. Writer’s block is a myth, by the way. Avoid the computer or tablet. Good old-fashioned paper and pen (or pencil) will reduce your inclination to jump on Facebook to avoid making your list. Throw some words on the page and get writing. If they’re awful, scratch them out or erase them later. There’s something quite liberating in scratching out horrible writing that simply pressing the backspace key just can’t live up to. Something visceral.

If you can come up with a silly enough list of excuses, there will be a story in it somewhere. Eschew the usual routine excuses for avoiding writing: you have to work late, you must walk the kids, you need to supervise the dog’s homework, you need for sleep, etc.,  etc. Come up with something really, really silly. If you work at this hard enough it will get you started writing.

Now go. And be one with the paper. And if your writing is still really awful, you can ball up the paper and play trash ball for the rest of the afternoon.