Tag Archives: writer’s block

Writer Wednesdays … Literary High-Five

6 Sep

Sometimes you’re just in a funk, and you can’t find the right words for your characters or feel like that missing piece is never going to fall in place.  You have no idea where the writer inside disappeared to, then all of sudden you write a letter, an email, or do a different type of writing  and you get the groove back.

I’m getting my groove back.

 

Recently, I had a blogging buddy of mine Jacqueline Cangro edit one of my manuscripts and let me tell you, having someone read something like that gave me the butterflies. I mean I know that eventually it’s going to be out there for everyone to see, and some close friends of mine have seen parts, if not all of it. But Jackie was going to edit it … really edit it. So I was nervous. I was like … dude what if she hates it? Will she ever return to my blog? Or how will she let me down easy. I was creating all kinds of scenarios in my head, but none of them panned out.

Jackie was really nice about it and spoke with me about my concerns. Sh did an amazing detailed job with content analysis, story and characterization. I was so glad to have met Jackie. Her advice was on point and I could feel the missing pieces coming together.

But I’ll be honest with you, rewriting and rewriting after edits and edits became a daunting task, even with the awesomeness that is Jackie. I got a little nervous. I didn’t want to veer too far off course, I didn’t want to get lost in all the editing that I couldn’t find my way back. And then the universe sent me a sign.

A friend of mine asked me to write a grant proposal for arts programs at my son’s school. Now normally I don’t get involved with the Mommy Mafia or the PTA clicks, which she is a part of,  but seeing how this was a close buddy and it was for a great cause I thought it would be a great service for the community and a good opportunity for a pause in novel re-writing plan.

So I took a step back from my 100th rewrite and did something good for someone else. During that process I learned that tapping a different avenue of my talents, helped stir up the writing mojo in all areas of my life. Writing about advocacy and arts engagement helped boost my own focus. Being able to write a cohesive statement that had nothing to do with my crazy character and her journey, helped glue ideas together in the recesses of my mind, and make things click. I was making connections and feeling confident about the fine-tuning that was going on.

And this is where I find myself.

I find myself looking back on how I turned the corner and I never would have guessed that grant writing or executive summaries would have the power of a high-five, because that’s what it was … a literary high-five. After I finished writing it … I thought damn! That was me … I put these words together. I conveyed how critical arts were for inventiveness and out-of-the box thinking. I put together a piece that speaks to the heart of this school and the need for arts education despite financial cutbacks. I convinced someone, I persuaded them to give money … and just with words. They hadn’t even met me yet. All they knew were my words.

And that seemed to be pretty powerful stuff. That seemed to be the make-up of a writer. That seemed to put be back on the yellow-brick road pathway.

So while, I’m still working on the grant, which will be due in a couple of days, I feel that time away from my story, spent working on a different discipline, has helped bring the story back full circle. I don’t know if any other writers experienced something like that, because I figured people get inspired or back into the story, by being away from it for a moment, taking a trip somewhere and then coming back from that sabbatical refreshed ans zoned in, but it was my first way down that road. And I’ve got to say, it was interesting.

 

Buen Camino

 

 

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Getting Unstuck

11 Jul

Being in a drought  sucks.

Relationship drought. Happiness drought. Pinterest success drought. Writer’s drought.

They all suck. But then you come across something so awesomely well-put together that you’re just inspired to break through and you see the it-can-happen-possibilities.

Yeah.

That’s exactly what happened.

I’d been struggling for a bit with one of my projects and just couldn’t get passed that crappy phase where you write and read and rewrite and then just scrap it. I couldn’t find the right combination and completely forgot what it looked like.

At this point, which happens often in a drought, I usually search the Podcast universe for inspiring talks from writers like Stephen King and  Elizabeth Gilbert, or I search for you-can-do-it articles.

But this time the live show did it for me.

I sat there and just loved how well he had put that together. I  got lost in the stories and laughter of it and completely forgot that hey … he probably struggled while writing, working, and reworking on this. It didn’t occur to me that he had ever struggled at all because it felt like such a natural conversation with an amazingly funny storyteller.

And I was like … man … he’s such a good writer.

Louis CK.

its-not-your-life-its-life-louis-c-k

I saw his show last night and the writer in me was inspired to get my act together and handle my business. It was stand-up comedy and I’m aware that it’s a different genre but it was still pretty cool to watch something like that play out. I know he writes a script but sometimes he goes off script as he feeds off the crowd’s energy and adjusts and moves things around. He finds the funny in life’s sucky moments

Finding the funny. I love that. I’m still studying it and trying to apply it daily.  I mean there are so many out there that do that successfully … Kevin Hart, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Ferrell, Jon Stewart, Chris Tucker, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Rock,  George Lopez, Cedric The Entertainer, and so many others. They craft their message in such a way that it keeps you engaged.

I saw that last night on stage and was like man! I want my stories to feel that way. So inspiration struck and it hung around long enough to get me unstuck. Sometimes the best way to clear your crazy, stubborn, writer’s block, procrastinating mind is by watching someone else do it so well.

 

 

I Broke Up And Didn’t Even Know It …

10 Oct

I had a breakthrough.

I just had it! Wanted it a couple of weeks ago, needed it a couple of weeks ago, but things don’t tend to happen on your timeline.

But it happened. I was on a roll and it culminated with the awesomeness of a Zac Brown Band concert.

Dude.

I was going to tell you about my Anti-Dentite moment just for laughs, because that’s exactly how I found myself at the dentist’s office, contemplating between two of the worst possible choices presented to me, and instead of freaking out right away,which would have been the normal reaction, I guess. I started cracking up, at the absurdity of the choice, but I’ll save that for your Monday and hope to get you smiling at the beginning of the week.

Now this post … Tonight on my Netflix Night, I stand at peace thinking of the writer’s block I just Ninja-ed my way through. I was on a serious creativity drought where I found myself bored with my character and the thing is … She isn’t boring. I was super pumped when I started this literary journey. Tuning in night after night just to see how it all panned out. I was totally into her. Totally.

But then … I don’t know. The spark fizzled out.

I think reading it for the thousandth time and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting it … I was like duuuuuuude I don’t want hear it. Enough with your life chick. Enough!

I couldn’t get my groove back and it didn’t help that the weeks were filled with the daily chaos that lives in the nooks and crannies of every mom’s life, the one that exhausts you because you got very little help, the one that you love and dislike at the same time, but the one that you’re super grateful for at the end of the day. You’re tired and grateful at the same time.

Yup.

That’s how I found myself at the end of the night, just wanting to unwind, with no creative energy pumping through my veins and onto the page. I had broken up with my main character and didn’t even know it. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so into your story but then after weeks of editing you feel like … yeah it’s not me, it’s you, has that ever happened?

But after a couple of weeks … I found myself searching for her again and reacquainting myself with that badass quirky character.

I snapped out of it.

I found inspiration through podcasts that I had no idea existed.

I got some Magic Lessons from Elizabeth Gilbert, soulful help from Rob Bell, and a dream chasing curiosity session on The Nerdist featuring Brian Grazer.

I stumbled across this podcasts phenomenon by accidentally tapping on the icon in my phone and then bam! Before I knew it I was rewriting like I meant it, not just getting through the pages but reconnecting with my character, Ms. Elena, watching her future unfold and cracking up as I remembered why she was created in the first place. I reconnected with inception. I didn’t want to break up again.

I saw the Big Picture again. I saw myself reading excerpts at Vromans Bookstore and Barnes&Noble, I saw myself listening to people laugh at the story, I saw myself signing copies (at Costco maybe), I saw myself in my white tent at the annual Festival of Books, I saw myself smiling because I had a copy of my novel in my hands.

So the podcasts lit the fire and I wasn’t burning daylight or midnight anymore.

Writing and rewriting everyday…consistently. Yup consistently, which has always been a technical difficulty for me.

But I had a breakthrough  … All because of an accidental push of a button.

I like those kinds of happy accidents, because most the ones that happen to me suck. Majorly suck.

So I high-fived myself at the end of these two weeks. I let my freak flag fly at the Zac Brown Band Concert and I rocked out with the sold-out crowd, celebrating my accomplishment and enjoying the sounds of the best country band to play under the stars.

It was a great reward for keeping this writer workout going. No more break-ups here.

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November’s Epic Failure is December’s Woo-Hoo Moment of the Year

30 Dec

I high-fived myself in the dark and then had a Will-Smith-Pursuit-of-Happiness moment … the one in the end … where he claps for himself in the middle of a crowd, and it’s that hard clap, the I-got-emotion-behind-this-clap clap and he does this because he finally did it. He reached his goal.

Yeah.

I had me one of those in the dark last night at about one-something in the morning. The quiet of the night felt good. I was awake. Awake with happiness, or that could have been the last hour of my 5-hour energy drink kicking in.

Either way I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, because I had failed so miserably before.

50,000 words.

Woo-Hoo!

Woo-Hoo!

 

I had made it.

I finished my book.

Last month was the epic National Novel Writing Month adventure where writers from all over the States and the world sit down and write their guts out in an effort to reach 50,000 words in 30 days. I, like every other writer, contemplated this and then thought maybe … maybe.

Come November 7th I saw a tweet from a buddy of mine, Susie Lindau, who had posted her word count and then something funny about the whole situation. When I logged in and left her an encouraging comment she responded with a simple, “Are you doing it too?” And I thought, well holy crap, am I?

I had thought of just participating in my own way, not really signing up, but just making an effort to write everyday, as I had fallen off the wagon. But with Susie’s question, I thought yeah … yeah I am why not. I had set a goal earlier this year to finish my book and was no where near finished, and this NanoWrimo thing would definitely push me through.

No. It didn’t push me.

It didn’t.

It drove me into a crash and burn of failure.

And not just any failure … a writer’s failure.

With two kids under the age of seven and all of the duties and adventures that come from that I just didn’t make it. I didn’t have enough time, or energy. But then I thought there are people out there with full time jobs and three kids and they probably did it so it wasn’t about excuses it was just failure.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. After a week of stuffing myself with chocolate and swimming in the sad writer’s state of mind, I picked myself up, bought a Costco-sized case of 5-Hour energy drinks and decided I was gonna write my ass off until it was done. I got this! I told myself.

So while it took Nano Champions 30 days or less to cross the finish line … it took me about 60. And I was all right with that.

November’s epic failure turned into December’s Woo-Hoo moment of the year.

I felt like Rocky Balboa after he made it to the top and climbed his last step … but I know getting it published is a whole other journey, but I am just glad that I finally conquered this step.

Ecstatic.

It was surreal. Exciting. Gratifying. But still surreal.

It felt good to cross the finish line right before the New Year. I felt that all those sleepless nights fueled by 5-Hour Energy and those disastrous, painful mornings that nearly killed me because it required me to not only wake up, but actually function were worth it.

They were worth it.

50,000 words worth it.

Success feels good, and I celebrated … with chocolate of course.