Hey, guys! Welcome back to Nerd Cactus land! I know we’ve been a little wonky since the Stratford trip (which was amazing–you should go read the blogs we wrote if you haven’t already) and the whole hurricane debacle, but it’s officially time to get started again, so… here we go.
I am not one of those writers who can write every day. I just can’t do it. Writing–well, the drafting part–is very draining for me. It’s like driving a car; it uses up the tank, whether that be gas or electric or both. I know there are a lot of people out there who gain energy from writing, for whom the act of writing is like filling the tank, but I am not one of those people. I actually get more energy from editing than drafting, which I suppose must make me some sort of alien creature, but there it is.
I get the most energy from worldbuilding and research.
But, whatever the case may be, I cannot write if I am not in the right frame of mind. Maybe that’s laziness talking or lack of discipline or whatever, but it’s just how I am. I have a very compartmentalized brain, and if I want to do anything, I have to shut out all the noise from all the competing compartments. Unfortunately, the writing compartment–the Writing Zone, if you will–is not one of the louder, more aggressive parts of my brain.
That would be the scholarly portion, aka the Hysterical Historian (which is the name of my future blog, which I should probably set up eventually), who wants to Hulk Smash ignorance and replace it with intellectualism. Or at least critical thinking, because I’ve been around some intellectuals who are completely useless at anything else. They don’t just live in the Ivory Tower, they’ve bricked themselves in like an Anchorite and plan to die in there.
But that’s a very loud portion. Another loud portion is the part that needs constant entertainment. I drain very easily. Emotionally, physically, spiritually… life takes it out of me. (YAY for anxiety issues, amirite?) So there’s a very loud portion of my brain that needs to be refilled, that’s constantly screaming that it’s bored. And when I get bored, the depression comes creeping in. I don’t need much, really. Usually a change of scenery or something beautiful, tasty, life-affirming, etc. It’s why I feel so healthy up in Stratford; it is a week, no matter how much walking up-hill I have to do (Floridians do not do hills), that exists purely to appease this portion of my brain.
Then I got home and a hurricane. Which, admittedly, worked out OK for me. The storm ended up hitting the opposite coast, leaving us with tropical storm force winds in an apartment I’m convinced is made of Captain America’s shield. But that chaos took every ounce of revitalization, happiness, and creative spirit I possessed and drained it out. I couldn’t have a creative thought if my life depended on it. There was just nothing there. The well had run dry, and I couldn’t figure out what to do.
So I entered a contest. A daily contest that forced me to think about my world. OK, so I entered before I went to Stratford and the hurricane completely messed up my ability to enter on time every day, but whatever. My friend was running the contest, it was just a couple of us involved, and it isn’t for anything remotely resembling a prize (bragging rights and a virtual ribbon), so it ended up being OK that my internet got patchy, my brain couldn’t squeeze out words, and all I wanted to do was to pull an IT Crowd.
I did end up getting everything in before the deadline, but some of the early entries are crap. Complete and utter crap I couldn’t even begin to show the world. By the end of the thing, though (as in… half an hour ago), I was churning out whole scenes I didn’t even hate, coming up with new details for Esmeihiri I didn’t already know, and writing entries over 1000 words! And while I’m not sure I’m back yet entirely, I can feel those wheels beginning to turn. I even had an idea for a play, though I’m not sure how to structure the idea to fit a play. As I understand it, ideas that work for a novel won’t work for a play, and my brain automatically goes to novel.
But, still. I think it might be coming back. If I include this blog, I’m over 4000 words for the day, which is nothing to shake a stick at.
So… there’s my advice for how to get your writing groove back. Enter a contest with very low stakes and daily prompts. Wanting to meet the deadline should get you writing again, and eventually, you’ll find a prompt that unlocks something.
Mine was having a blind man who’d never encountered a horse before learning what a horse was.
It was cute.
I’ll be back on Friday with a Boozy Books. I like the book I’m reading now enough to pair it, or I can pair Daniel Deronda if I can get over how complicated it is enough to write a succinct summary…