Day 95 – When motivation wanes, push yourself to get back on track

Day ninety-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,000

Yesterday I only wrote 350 words. The day before that, only 300. And before that, 600. It has been a dismal week of writing by most accounts. But under the circumstances, for me in my little world, it has turned out to be triumphant. That’s because I have been been terribly unmotivated the past few days. I have been distracted and drained by other important things in my life. Writing got bumped lower down the list than it usually is. So it was no minor feat to get down 1,250 words the last three days. I had to force myself to write. Literally. I made myself sit down. Get the fingers on the keyboard. Do something with those fingers. Work the mind. Tickle the imagination. Write.

I FORCED myself. And I’m so glad I did. Because today, I’m back on track. It would have been so easy to take those days off. To just call a break. It would have been so easy to tell myself, “If I’m only going to write a small amount, I might as well just forget it.” It would have been so easy to convince myself to wait until I felt motivated again. But where would that have left me? I’ll tell you where: 1,250 words behind where I was this morning before the motivation kicked back in and I wrote another 1,000. And more than likely, if I hadn’t forced myself to write the last three days I would have still felt unmotivated today. I wouldn’t have gotten back on track so quickly. Three days off would have turned into a week, and then another week, and so on.

I’m 2,250 words better off having pushed on through those tough few days. And, I’m still writing every day. Triumphant.

Day 93 – Only

Day ninety-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 300

Only 300. That’s what I said in my head as I decided to quit way sooner than I felt I should. “Only 300 words today?” Yup. That is all I could write, all I wanted to write. Only. But why ‘only?’ It’s only Day 93 of the 365 days I have committed to writing. It’s only the first novel I plan to publish. It’s only a story waiting to be told. It’s only my art, my passion, my purpose. It’s only me.

There’s nothing only about it.

Day 92 – Listless and tired, I plug away

Day ninety-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 600

I’m recovering from an emotional couple of days. It has been interesting to see how the drain on my emotions has affected my writing. It hasn’t necessarily affected the quality, but it has affected my desire.

You see, writing is in many ways a release for me. It helps ease my stress and allows me to tend to my emotional well-being. I work in a profession that has very little room for personal emotion. I must be strong, intellectual and self-assured most of the time. It’s exhausting. Writing allows me to tap into my emotional self, to release and use those emotions that I have spent great effort to stifle. It has become a necessity for me to do this, because therapy isn’t enough to alleviate the buried graveyard of emotions this gal has.

Interestingly, because I have been dealing with some upsetting news the past couple of days, I have had no choice but to let my emotions loose. I haven’t been stifling and burying them. While I realize this is healthy for me, it has left me feeling listless. It’s as if I don’t have enough emotion left to put into my writing. Do I really believe that? No. I’m sure if I dug deep enough I could tap into what I need. After all, I am still writing. I think I’m just too emotionally drained and tired to dig deep.

Thankfully, I know this listless feeling won’t last, because time is healing.

Day 91 – Three month milestone

Day ninety-one of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 2,000 (For days 89, 90 and 91)

Yesterday was Day 90, when three months should have been celebrated. But I have been taking some time off on the weekends – not time off from writing, but time off from posting an entry on this blog – so celebrating yesterday was out of the question. I figured I would catch up and celebrate this milestone today.

Unfortunately, we received some horrible news about a good friend today. The last thing I feel like doing is celebrating. So I’ll just keep this short: I have been doing the 365 Day Writing Project for over 90 days. I have been writing regularly and learning more about writing than I ever imagined. What I am most proud of, however, is sticking to this challenge to write every day for all these months. And I’m still going.

Day 88 – Write even when you don’t want to

Day eighty-eight of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,000

If it weren’t for this writing project, I would have skipped writing today. It’s not that I didn’t want to write, but the idea of trying to get a decent amount accomplished wasn’t appealing to me. I told myself to just start writing and if all I got done was a sentence, that would still be more than I would have done if I skipped altogether.

I sat down to write (after getting kids to bed and cleaning the kitchen) and felt uninspired. I told myself to just open the file on my computer and then open the document, which was Chapter 11. Once I did that, getting down the first few words wasn’t all that hard. Then I had a few sentences. Eventually, I had over 1,000 words written. And this is precisely why I started my 365 Day Writing Project.

Sometimes, you just need to force yourself to write. Get over the hump. Get past that first hurdle and the rest will come.

Day 87 – Fast-paced scenes make for fast-paced writing

Day eighty-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,200

I sprung into writing today at the beginning of a fast-paced scene. I have so much fun writing those. One reason they are fun is how the words just fly onto the page. I wrote for under an hour and hammered out 1,200 words without breaking a sweat. I don’t want to say it was easy, but as far as how the writing came to me, it was.

I am always learning about the creative process. I have learned how the fast-paced scenes are the most enjoyable to write, while the slower-paced ones tend feel…well, slower to write. Hello, Captain Obvious. But seriously, I find it interesting that the type of scene I am writing dictates my writing experience. I suppose it is rather silly for me to think otherwise, that my writing experience would be the same no matter what I was writing. I know that it is not. I experience the emotions while I write the characters’ experience of them. I feel it as I write it. If I didn’t, I don’t think it would be very good writing.

Tonight, I wrote a fast-paced scene that was dark, dramatic and uncertain, causing me to feel anxious, nervous and worried. Fight or flight ensued. The words spilled out as I hit the keys, my fingers and focus being driven by anxiety and maybe even some adrenaline. So the words came to me faster and I typed with hyper-speed, banging on the keys with aggressive purpose. I don’t think I ever realized it before, but it is coming clear to me now that my viscerally empathetic responses shape not only my experience of writing a scene, but also what will be the experience of the reader. This is yet another reason to love books, and especially, to love writing them.

Day 86 – From a power nap came a great idea

Day eighty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

While I was writing tonight (okay, I had only written one paragraph and was kind of stuck) I nodded off for a bit. Maybe ten minutes. When I woke, I suddenly had a great idea for the story. Just like that, I was off like a shot and steadily wrote another 450 words. I probably could have continued to write more but I really need to get some sleep. And I’m pleased with what I got done.

I once read somewhere that great ideas come about when the mind is at rest. Sleep can spark creativity. It certainly seemed true for me tonight, even if it was a short power nap and a short session of writing. I think I’ll try it more often.

Day 85 – Don’t panic. Just keep writing.

Day eighty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,000

It can be hard to convince yourself that what you are doing is the right thing. This is true in just about any context, including writing a book. I’m not talking about the decision to write a book. That’s one decision of which I don’t need any convincing. I’m talking about a decision on which direction to take the story.

When I first started writing this book, I wrote an outline of the plot. I had a general idea of where the story needed to go. But when I am in the trenches of writing, things sometimes change. The story has veered off course on several occasions. It has been fun and exciting to allow things to evolve organically, but my outline is basically defunct. I’m continuing to make decisions every day and although I still have a general idea of where the story is going, the road to get there is quite different than I had planned.

Tonight, I had an oh-holy-hell-I’ve-mucked-it-all-up moment. Panic. Maybe the decisions I have been making are totally wrong. Maybe I’m terrible at this. Maybe what I am doing is not the right thing. After roughly 75,000 words into the book, what the heck do I do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just need to keep writing. And have faith that I’ll get the story where it needs to go.

Day 84 – A short day of writing and an excerpt

Day eighty-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 650

I took some time to write before dinner tonight. Usually, my time to write is after the kids are asleep. Getting some writing time at an earlier hour was great, but it came with a lot of distractions. So, it didn’t last long. When I had time to write more later after everyone went to bed, I decided to give myself the night off and catch up on Modern Family episodes. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Without much to report here tonight, I realized that it has been quite some time since I have posted a snippet from my book. So here you go.

Three months to the day after their mother’s suicide, Deacon was admitted to the Vermont State Hospital. Finding their mother hanging in the barn had caused him massive emotional trauma and he had been unresponsive ever since. The doctors diagnosed him with catatonic depression. For three months, Skylar and her father tried to care for Deacon themselves. They did their best to bring him back to his normal functioning state, but they were unsuccessful. If anything, Deacon had actually gotten worse. He was slipping away from them more every day. And it was killing her father.

When her father first mentioned that he might need to send Deacon away, Skylar tried everything she could think of to get her brother better. She told him jokes, she read to him, sang to him and even danced to his favorite music like a crazy person to try to get something, anything out of him. A laugh. A giggle. A snort or grunt. A raised eyebrow. Anything. But nothing worked. Behind his eyes all she could see was blankness. He wasn’t there anymore.

Skylar refused to believe that he was totally gone. When watching her father waste away in desperation at the demise of his son, Skylar made a decision to try one more thing. She decided to bring Deacon outside to see the sheep. He had always loved the sheep and had been devoted to caring for them since he was six years-old. He would get up early every morning to feed them, without fail. He used to shear them and talk to them like they were people. He even named them all. They were a part of him. Skylar figured if anyone could get Deacon to “wake up” out of his catatonic state, it would be the sheep.

She bundled him up in his wheelchair and rolled him outside. But she made a grave error. When she pushed him toward the barn, Deacon had a seizure. Skylar had to leave him to sprint back to the house to call 9-1-1. In her haste, she didn’t think to turn his wheelchair away so he couldn’t see the barn. She left him there, facing the barn where he had found his mother dead.

When she ran back to him less than a minute later, she realized what she had done. She had unintentionally made him face the demon that had seized his spirit just three months before. In an instant, any drop of hope of getting him back evaporated. Deacon, the brother she had grown up with and loved all her life, was gone forever. And it was her fault. The ambulance arrived and the EMT’s worked to get the seizure under control. They were loading him into the ambulance when her father got home. He was panicked. He tried to refuse treatment for Deacon to keep them from taking him, but they convinced her father to let him go. As the ambulance pulled out of the driveway and her father peeled out behind it in his truck, Skylar knew. Deacon was never coming back.

Day 83 – Writing longhand is quite a different experience

Day eighty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,250

What I wrote today turned out to be a combination of pages I wrote longhand last night and what I added as I transcribed today. I didn’t have my laptop last night so I went the old school route and pulled out a notepad. I sharpened a nice No. 2 soft lead pencil and sat down to write like I used to do long ago. It was wild.

Until last night, every page of the book I am writing has originated by me typing into a Word document. To experience writing longhand again was eye-opening in many ways. First, it was tiring. My hand literally got tired and cramped. I had to shake it out and stretch it several times. Second, it was slow. I couldn’t get the words down as fast as I am used to when I type. My thoughts were outrunning my hand’s ability to scribe by a mile. Third, it was more connective. Something about the smooth motions, curling the letters and designing the words on the page gave me a deeper connection to them. It was like I was creating the words at the same time I created the story.

It was a cool experience. But to be honest, it isn’t one I will likely repeat too often. Having to transcribe today what I had written the day before put me in the position of editing while I wrote. If you have been following my blog you know this is something I have been working hard to avoid. I simply couldn’t avoid it today when I was typing the words from yesterday because I had a day of perspective to see weaknesses in the writing. I couldn’t type those parts as they were. I had to change them. So I edited and tweaked and typed. Everything turned out well, but it definitely took away from my free-flowing writing time.

As always, its validity rules the day: Write now, edit later.