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Why and When?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Why is it that when I want to write, when I set aside time to do it, that’s the last thing I want to do—that I would rather clean (my least favorite thing in the world, aside from exercising) than write (my most favorite thing to do in the world, aside from sleeping and eating)? All I can think about are the books sitting on my office floor that I need to get listed on Amazon so that I can sell them and have money to buy Christmas presents and start saving for a trip to England next summer, or going to the grocery store because I ran out of Splenda this morning and I won’t have any for my coffee tomorrow morning if I don’t go get it tonight.

I used to be able to just lose myself in writing—I would get home from work and sit down at the computer and next thing I knew, it would be eleven, twelve, one o’clock and I would have written 5–8,000 words. I love my characters and my story. When I can actually get into the zone and the words are flowing, I love writing. But why is it so hard now to find the “zone”? I used to be able to just slip right into it. Of course, fifteen or so years ago, there was no internet, no e-mail to distract me.

When I was in my early twenties, I probably wrote between 1,500 and 3,000 words per day just trying to stay sane when I was in the middle of my almost-debilitating depression or just after I dropped out of college and was pretty much cut off from all of my friends by my moving 1,100 miles away. Writing was more than just an escape—it was a total emersion into the world of my own making. The world where, even when things went wrong for my characters, I knew everything would be okay. There was no uncertainty, no anxiety, no fear, no loss.

When did I have to start forcing myself to set aside time for writing? I used to write all the time—to the exclusion of taking care of other tasks. When did I stop being able to immerse myself in my own fictional worlds for hours at a time? When did I allow other things to become distracting? When did blogging, keeping up with certain TV programs, browsing online forums, or playing spider solitaire on the computer become more important than losing myself in the stories God put inside my head?

All of that to say that this is day 1 of the October MTCW writing marathon and I have actually managed to write almost 1,400 words today (about 4.75 pages). I will get back to the Character Casting series either Sunday night or Monday morning.

  1. Anonymous permalink
    Friday, October 27, 2006 8:51 pm

    I can so identify with this! I started out writing just for fun, stories that had been swirling in my head for years as pleasant dreams in that not-quite-asleep world before deep slumber. But now, when I want so much to be predictable, sometimes the words need to be pried out with a mental crowbar. I’ve stumbled on a couple of things that have helped (lately). First is to trust your instinct as a storyteller. Second is to use that time before I sleep to compost what I want to write the next day. It has helped me to have a target to shoot at each day.

    And congrats on your almost 5 pages today. All words to the good, bringing you closer to your goal.


  2. Carol Collett permalink
    Saturday, October 28, 2006 6:35 pm

    I’m having the same problem of late. I’m hoping NANOMO will help jerk me out of this rut.


  3. GeorgianaD permalink
    Monday, October 30, 2006 9:43 pm

    Setting aside time is the hardest part of writing. I had to make a deal with myself to spend at least as much time writing as I did writing-related activities like forums and blogs and writer’s books. I suppose I get more done the less time I have–at least in the long run–because I have to make better use of the time I have.


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