Tripping over my own feet

put on your white shoes and... (from the wedding series)Memorial Day’s behind us, and summertime’s right around the corner. Time to shop for new shoes flip-flops , don’t you think? 

I’ve promised myself that I will finish the rough draft of a difficult chapter by Thursday evening. I need volunteers willing to kick me in my everlovin’ behind if I don’t. Hmmm…maybe that’d be a good use for the white shoes you stashed in the back of your closet after Labor Day? 

Seriously, I’m struggling to get back to my writing, but I’m not getting a lot of traction. What do you do when you’re flailing and falling all over your writing feet?


  1. I had a heck of a time buying shoes this spring — everything was either four-inch spike heels or flat as a pancake with no support. What’s wrong with a moderate, nice looking dress shoe?

    As for the writing … well, since it took me 3 months to finish Ch. 2 I don’t know if you want to take any advice I might offer. But here’s what gives me a kick when I’m languishing:

    1) Read something really bad. This works in two ways. One, you get irritated because you know you can do better. Seriously, how does some of this stuff get published? Two, the book you’re reading doesn’t become a temptation to avoid writing. Start a book that’s bad enough and you may never get up from your keyboard again!

    2) Write something just for fun. This gets the flow of words going when it’s blocked up, so that when you turn back to your WIP it’s easier to get in the groove. I’m part of a small roleplaying community and when I’m resisting my novel, I’ll throw together a little character piece — there’s no “performance pressure” since I know only a non-critical handful of people are going to read it. Plus, it’s good writing practice; they say it takes a million words to really learn the craft!

    3) Personify your muse. Give him a face, a voice, and a chair right next to your desk. If he’s a good muse, he won’t let you up until you’ve accomplished something.

    I’ve never found much value in the current standard advice, “give yourself permission to write badly.” It works for a few handwritten pages, at most, but more than that and my confidence in my ability goes down the toilet. I need the steady progression of sparkly prose to keep me going.

    Of course, I’d guess that your struggles are more about confronting the emotions attached to what you’re writing. I’m not sure I have any advice for facing that kind of resistance (I’m kind of an avoider myself). Maybe you can just set small goals: “I’ll get through this one bit here, and then give myself a break.” And have something comforting nearby, in case you need it.

  2. Must be something in the air…I’m having a heck of a time focusing on my book, too. Some things I’ve tried in the past to get the old creative juices flowing:
    * Clean up, and nice-up, my writing space.
    * Engage in a friendly word-count challenge with a fellow writer friend of mine.
    * Ignore excuses for not writing in head (like the ones reminding me I need to wash the kitchen floor) and write whenever something strikes me.

    Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  3. When I’m flailing, I usually just have to sit down and force myself to do it. I don’t let myself read LJ or go on Verla’s — I get in my chair, put my fingers and the keys, and start typing. Often all the comes out is pure crap, BUT somehow, someway, just the physical act of typing seems to get my creativity flowing again, even if ever so slowly.

    You can do it, Melodye!!

  4. Flip flops are your reward . . .

    That’s what I do — dangle a reward in front of me – so to speak- until I get the task done

    So for you — you have to go barefoot until yo get the rough draft done =)

    Aftr that you can buy 5 pairs of flip flops

  5. I set an achievable (low) daily word count and hold myself to it. And I keep a spreadsheet to make sure I do it.

    It really works for me.

    during the Never Ending Divorce the word count was really low. Now it’s a minimum of 500 word. I try to write more than that but 500 words is the minimum for a work day. The spreadsheet helps by a) keeping me accountable and b) showing me how it all adds up if I keep at it.

    You can do it!

  6. I put on music that sets a mood for a scene I WANT to write. I start with dessert first, then keep moving – and I have a friend who asks me 3x a week – are you writing? (She’s a very driven writer – so it’s fine – but if I’m feeling defensive, it’s b/c I’m not writing. So she’ll sigh, let it go, and then I’ll go back to my writing.)

  7. I’m officially volunteering to kick you in the butt if you don’t get it done (at least a draft). And I don’t think you want my size 12s in your rear end.

    Give yourself permission to write whatever is ready to come out of your fingertips. No censoring. Just let it flow.

    Remember, I’ve got big feet………..

  8. Clean your desk. A cluttered desk will stop you in your tracks – mentally and physically – trust me on this one πŸ™‚
    Send your inner editor for a vacation (there’s space available in the Red Locker) and then write down any and all thoughts you have. Once you see them visually on the page, you’ll find ways to thread them together.
    Go for a walk (a meander rather than a power walk) and let the thoughts flow.
    Shoes, yuck. Flip flops, yay!!!

  9. Wow, I thought it was just me!

    Usually I just force myself to go upstairs to my writing room in the loft. I turn off the Internet and just write. If it’s crap, that’s okay. I can come back later and delete it. But I have to just write and turn off that annoying as heck inner editor inside my head. The one who has the voice of the junior college English professor who would ridicule my writing in front of the class.

    I also do more research. Sometimes that helps.

  10. Go walking. Loooong walks.

    Read something I REALLY want to read.

    Re-read a writing book that I found particularly inspiring.

    And always have WIP OPEN on your computer so if a moment hits you–even two words–you are ready to go!

  11. I write garbage, but I make myself write. And I give myself permission to write stinky sentences just to get through the page. Usually, only about three quarters of them end up as stinky as I thought, and then I can go back and fix those, and it’s not as scary as writing a first draft.

    Good luck – I’ll think positive thoughts for you!

  12. sometimes I have to put it away and do other things for awhile. Usually I read, and read, and read. when the bug hits again, I pick up the ol’ pencil and get back to work.

    Good luck πŸ™‚

  13. You have some wonderful suggestions here to try and I hope you find some that work for you.

    In no particular order of how I’ve used them or their effectiveness:

    I go to the garden. Not to work but to wander. Sometimes I need some silence without forcing myself to write.

    When I had the piano I would pound on it for a while, very poorly.

    I read what I have already written.

    I make timed dates with myself.

    Most of all, and this is something I ALWAYS do, I whine to some trusted friends who understand how tough it is to be a writer.

  14. There is definitely something in the air! I have been having trouble concentrating on NED for the past month! Writing that last chapter is going to drive me to drink!!

    Usually when I hit the skids with a piece, I go on to one of my other stories. Revising ANYA and some of my stories that are still in ‘sloppy copy’ mode. tends to kick start the creative juices flowing again, but not this time! ARRRGH!

    Sending positive writing vibes your way! You can do it Melodye!

    I’m still after the sheepskin sandals you mentioned last year.

  15. Okay, I’ve never understood this… why is it improper to wear white shoes after Labor Day? Help! I don’t get it! And all of my sneakers are white… what is a boy to do? πŸ™‚

  16. Well now I can’t give any advice on writing but I can give you a swift kick in your read if you so need one. Just remember that these “Texas Size” boots have been out in the back 40 and that is where we keep some very messy cows. So be careful if you ask for a kick.

  17. I’m in a slump, too. And I’m glad you shared this because I read all the tips you recieved and I picked a few up. πŸ™‚ I managed to write 500 words of crap. Better than nothing, I suppose.

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