Getting past the block

When I sit down to write, fingers to keyboard, ready to fill the white void, I often have a moment’s hesitation. There is something daunting about that blank space that gives me a pause, and I have a short burst of writer’s block. What if I can’t fill the space? What if my brain doesn’t want to spit out the words? What if the fact that I haven’t written anything substantial in three months finally catches up to me? What if it’s gone? What if…what if…what if…?

Then the words flow from brain to fingers, and the white void becomes something substantial – something real.

When I was invited to post to Medium, I was so excited. But I had no idea what to write – of course now that I had an opportunity to reach more people on a large platform, I felt like my brain was out of good ideas. My first (and only, save this one) post was something I had written in 2007.

I used to write all the time. In gradeschool I was the huge nerd who wrote short stories and read them aloud during Reading class in school. I started a full-length novel my first year in college, an angsty fantasy romance where the heroine dies in the end. I took many classes where writing was the focal point, finishing with a minor in creative writing. I enjoyed writing research papers (yes, you read that right). A couple years after college, I started my blog as an outlet for my words, and nine-and-a-half years later, here we are. My lifetime readers have seen the early entries, posts pulling from the past with memories swelling at the seams; they have also seen recent contributions, where the majority of my posts are daily comings and goings and full of pictures.

What do you do when the well feels like it’s drying up? I started writing a book on my journey to eliminate corn syrup from my diet back in May…I haven’t written a word in three months. Instead of pushing through and putting words to paper (so to speak), I have been pushing it aside. I used to be able to write for hours and hours, but I feel it’s such a chore lately.

Part of this I blame on a self-diagnosis of social ADD. I spend so much time checking my online presence – my work is social media, so I get to work and login to Facebook and Twitter, then go home and login to Facebook and Twitter. I have been known, on more than one occasion, to check my Facebook WHILE ON FACEBOOK. Back in the old days of 2003, I would go to work with no internet access, then come home and check my email and messageboards. Now my technological life is in my pocket at all times. I need an intervention, but when my work revolves around that from which I need to abstain, it gets a little hairy.

Another part of this is that I’m just lazy. I need to get a schedule to write and stick to it. That’s why I like NANOWRIMO so much  – it’s only a competition with myself, and only myself loses if I don’t finish. Out of the three years I attempted NANO, I beat myself two years – 2007 and 2011 (RIP 2010). It’s such a rush to have this national gathering of writers pledging to write 50,000 words in a month. And when you plug in your finished product at the end of November to find your word-count is awesome? It’s such a rush.

My sister Jane and I recently went to a convention where we encountered an unexpected guest – an hour Q&A with a writer at a horror convention (nerdism runs in the family). He was speaking specifically to horror and thriller writing, but his advice can be applied to all types of writing. Words are words, after all, scary or not.

I asked how he got past writer’s block (without actually mentioning writer’s block). He said one of his books took 15 years to write – it just had to gestate that long. Ultimately, though, you just have to write and push through the block, just like with anything that’s in the way. That’s what I have to do, that’s what you have to do, that’s what anyone has to do.

November’s fast approaching. NANOWRIMO might be the final push I need to get myself back into the writing groove. It really isn’t NANO that does it though – it’s a personal choice that has to come from a person’s own ambition; whether you win or lose in the end is really up to you. Get those fingers in shape – time to push past the block.

nano update

after a 6,000 word streak last sunday, thanksgiving came and i sat at 23,000 words for three days.

i thought maybe it was hopeless, winning this nanowrimo thing.

i still don’t know if i’ll make it, but today i put in 7,000 words so far and i’m not done. plus, there’s one more day of the weekend left.  i’m sitting at 30,100 words right now. i figure if i can make it to 33,000 tonight, and put in another 10,000 words tomorrow, i’ll only need to write 1400 words a day until friday, and i can hit 50,000. i might make it yet. i’ll just be at my computer, drinking tea or diet sunkist lemonade, listening to the last two tracks of PotC III over and over.

wish me luck.

actually, wish me luck that i don’t run out of a plot. that seems to be the overwhelming issue at hand. flyin’ by the seat of my pants, i am.

excerpt!

for those of you too lazy to go to my nanowrimo site, (http://www.nanowrimo.org/user/216196), here is an excerpt.

At age twenty-two, Mildred went to the courthouse and legally changed her name to Millie Frank for $39.95.
She just graduated from college in marketing and decided this would be the best decision for her career, not to mention her sanity when it came to her name.
Her mother, outraged at this decision, decided then and there that Millie would be disowned. Her father didn’t do anything but stare downward while listening to his wife yell at their older daughter. Mildred the original would never do anything like this. It’s not only unfair, but dishonest and disloyal to boot – completely unlike the original Mildred.
Millie didn’t care. At the end of the month she was draining her checking and savings accounts and moving to downtown Minneapolis where she was going to live with a girl she knew from college. She had enough money in savings from working during col___________________________________________________

nanowrimo page

here’s a link to  my nanowrimo page. i will periodically post my writing for word counts, and they will post excerpts for people to read. so, if you want to know how i’m doing, that’s where to go.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/user/216196

jitter jitter jitter jitter jitter jitter

i’m nervous for nanowrimo. i don’t know why. unsure about a lot of things.

did i choose the right story to write? that is my major concern. should i be writing something else. i’ve done fantasy/fairie tales. should i be trying something else? should i really be rewriting something that’s already been done more than once or should i be starting a plot from scratch? it was either doing the 12 dancing princesses or writing a story from which i can draw life experiences. fiction is SO difficult to write that i almost want to go with something where i can say, oh, i can write about his because i know how this goes.

ugh! i need to make a decision by thursday!!! input would be helpful!

how you doin, jane?

your input or else

i’ve narrowed it down to 4 fairy tales to rewrite for NANOWRIMO.

1) rapunzel. long-haired maiden is stuck in a tower until prince rescues her.

2) rumplestiltskin. little elf dude helps out damsel in distress in return for her first-born unless she guesses his name by the prescribed time.

3) 12 dancing princesses. i really like this one. a stranger is boarded at a king’s palace and solves the mystery of why the princess’ shoes are worn through each morning. go read a short version.

4) donkeyskin (rewritten by R.M. as deerskin). the original fairy tale is a lot different from what robin mckinley wrote, so it has a lot of leeway. a princess tries to get out of an arranged marriage and ends of disguising herself as a hag, and falling for the prince of the far-off land she escaped to.read.

of course, rewritten, i may have to get rid of the whole “damsel in distress” issue in whichever i choose, but that’s to be expected!

so, vote!

nanowrimo

i have expressed my interest in nanowrimo earlier, and now it’s time to kick into gear. if i really want to do this, i need to come up with a storyline beforehand so i can have something to follow and a guide for the month that i write. so, i did some brainstorming and here’s some ideas i’ve come up with so far (italicized are the ones i am most intrested in doing):

familial
a rebel with sisterly issues
single child with parental issues
elderly woman moving from home to in with her children

elemental
becoming green and its challenges
helping others (move to other country or delve into US poor)
surviving getting lost/stuck/trapped in nature (like boundary waters)

futuristic
the big 2012 extravaganza, (could do in a 3 years ago..3 months ago..2 months ago.. format)
moving to another planet

self-examination
the quarter-life crisis
paying your dues to get in good
change
religious examination

fantasy
retell a fairy tale with a twist, a la robin mckinley
heroine saves the day somehow (been there done that)

some of these would require some research, and the two that intrigue me the most would be the ones i would need to research a little, or a lot.

any preferences? any other ideas? i will expect all of you to read this when i’m done with it (it won’t be THAT long, come on!).