I’m going to try something to keep me a little more on the ball. I’ve been following a few different writers on tumblr and saw a few of them doing writing updates. They all use a similar format, with a writing goal and the words completed, then a blurb about the writing session and how it went along with other random things like songs listened to or a haiku about the session. Then finish off the post with a rating of the session and an excerpt.
I find them interesting to read, to see someone else struggling or accomplishing, so I to will give it a shot. Lately I’ve been stuck on a scene and had put it off for the better part of week. Finally though I have slogged through it (it’s gonna need edits). But now I get to move on to a scene I’m more excited about. Part of the motivation to get this done came from doing my first writing update, so I’ve decided I’m going to try doing at least 3 writing updates a week. Which also means I’m going to have to write at least 3 times a week!
This is an experiment, so who knows if it’s going to work, if it’s going to stress me out, if it’s going to get me off my lazy butt, who knows. I’m curious though and will keep you updated with how it goes.
If you want to see my writing updates you can follow my tumblr here.
I have always wondered why so many famous writers were or are also notorious drunks. Foolishly as I write this I cannot think of a single name but I swear it’s a thing. The other day I was having a particularly bad case of blank page syndrome, it was evening so I didn’t feel guilty or bad for cracking open a bottle.
An hour later I found myself nicely buzzed. And. No. Thoughts. Came.
How do other people do it?
My creativity is not at all linked to a substance it seems, I’ve heard of using drugs or alcohol to help in the creative process but to me at least that seems like a silly idea and at worst a waste of time. While drunk I can’t focus enough to even write a word.
I look at my page, (it’s already full of words, I’m mid-chapter) but nothing comes, I start reading a few sentences to refresh my mind. Still nothing, but I think about rewording those sentences I just read. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll move this, and change this word, what’s a good synonym I could use? Great, now I’m editing and nothing new is on the page. This continues for a while until I start a sentence, a new sentence. A new paraghraph!
The next day, with a slight hangover I take a look at what I wrote the night before. A) There isn’t much, it’s about half a page. B) It’s not well written, the sentence structure is bland and my vocabulary spontaneously shrank by about a million. C) It’s just not that good, it’s not very interesting and the characters are not faithful to their personalities.
So I ask again, why the hell do writers drink and write?
I’ve been reading through an awesome book called; Blood, Sweat and Pixels about the insane process of game development. Jason Schreier does a fantastic job of explaining the tomultuous process of developing a game, he does this by following many different games from inception to release. As a game developer it’s both eye-opening and awe-opening. One of the main themes that is present throughout the book is ‘crunch’. Crunch in game development terms is basically when the team has to work constantly to finish the game/project before the deadline. We have all crunched at some point, for school or work. It’s late nights and early mornings, bleary eyed and caffine fueled.
Crunch in game dev is a necessity, no game has come out without crunch. The reason I bring up crunch? Well it all plays into work/life balance. I’ve been thinking about this idea for the whole week. Work and life (or the rest of your life) is challenging to balance, even if you go to work at regular hours and don’t stay late or work from home it follows you. After work you have to try to forget or destress.
For creatives this is nearly impossible. As a game developer and author I can attest firsthand. My brain never stops working, either it’s characters and scenes or code and design elements or mechanics, it never fucking stops.
For me the only time I can let go is only sometimes when I’m either playing a game or totally engrossed in a novel. Otherwise, its a constant barrage of ideas or stressing about how something isn’t finished or isn’t quite right. Or it’s how I’m doing this instead of that, why am I not working on this, or why am I just laying in bed right now on instagram or facebook or reading an article? I could be working on something!
In the whole work / life balance thing, I find I go through cycles of productivity. I’ll have weeks of consitent productivity, then lull’s. This I have learned is not that uncommon either. But I also find when a new game comes out I tend to binge in a similar way when working on something new, it’s all I think about, how do I get to the next level or the next item or whatever. Right now I’m in a lull, unproductive and distracted by other work and a game. My brain is struggling to focus on my creative projects.
It’s very frustrating.
This week has been another slog. I find it frustrating how much I love to write but when I finally have a few hours to actually do it… nothing. My brain blanks, my creativity stalls, it makes me want to throw my computer across the room. Ok, I’m being hyperbolic but you get my drift, it’s annoying. This week was particularily vexing because I realized midway through the week part of the reason for my struggles is because I haven’t filled out my characters enough.
This is a whole other, deeper, far more frustrating issue. First I’ll preface by saying, I am glad I realized this now and not later. I’m not too far into the novel, 45,000 words is a ways but the story is far from over. Anyways, so my characters are not done. Part of this stems from my writing style. I like to plan rough ideas and then write to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately I did this not only with the plot but also with the characters. I realize my mistake now of course, after writing a large chunk of book.
The problem I ran into was my characters don’t feel different enough, their motivations are relatively bland or unrealized in what I’ve written. The dialogue from one character to another is not very different. They probably all read pretty similarily. Which is because I forgot to fill them in as characters. I have an idea of who they are but without little details they don’t feel real or 3 dimensional.
So, its been frustrating. Again, I’m glad I realized this now, although I’m not looking forward to rewriting a bunch of things (I know I will have to anyways, but I want to write the rest of the story first). Now I’m struggling to decide whether to go back and fix some of the most recent scenes just to adjust them to my more fully realized characters or if I should push on and just write them properly going forward. I’m sure every writer has struggled with this to some degree. If you have leave a comment or like. I’d like to know I’m not the only one.