Writing is a struggle against silence. Carlos Fuentes
My anxiety has been riding me hard for the past week. Some days; especially today that has made it hard to concentrate and get things done. I hate the feeling of being arrested and unable to accomplish anything. When it feels like every task – even finishing the laundry – is too much. I did get the laundry done today, but it feels like I didn’t accomplish much else.
This is so damn frustrating to me. I know I am capable of accomplishing many things. And yet, days like today happen where doing anything feels like an uphill battle against me. Even typing these words is a chore.
I want to write or journal, but it feels like I am in a tank of water and every motion I do takes the extra effort of working against not only the air, but the water too. I don’t want to be silent. I want to be able to speak up. Or write. Or communicate. I want to write – even when it is hard or scary. Perhaps, especially when writing is hard or scary.
I hate this feeling that fear is ruling my life. I want to live my life despite the fear I feel. I want to be able to do what I want to do. I want to accomplish things in a day; more than just getting the laundry done and feeling exhausted because it took that much exertion to just start it. So here I am, writing this blog post, trying to work over that feeling of not being able to accomplish anything today.
There is also that voice of doubt in the back of my head. This post is stupid. Why don’t you stop whining? If you post this to the internet people are going to think you are a whiner. You don’t want that, do you? Argh, listen up, doubt – please just shut the fuck up. All right? I am striving against the silence. I am writing despite the uphill battle. I don’t need your help.
©K. Klein 2012
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath
I will admit to being a bad English major and literary nerd – I’ve never read The Bell Jar. However, this Plath quote really resonates with me now. Between being sick last week and plagued with self-doubt this week I am a mess.
My NaNoWriMo novel is at forty thousand words, which in sheer word count terms, is awesome. I think I am only about a third or a fourth of the way into the story. I feel like there is a turning point coming up that I have yet to discover; one of the great and frightening parts of pantsing. Hopefully I will discover the illustrious and mysterious turning point soon. We shall see.
I am starting to wonder, was I ever really a pure pantser? I think the answer is no. But I am not a born plotter; I am not making outline of my story before it is written. Instead, I like to have my amorphous mess and then figure out what the structure should be…I sort of reverse-engineered the first draft of novel-1. I have been scribbling down scribbling down scenes of what I want to happen before I start writing, which I find helpful. And on the bright side, definitely helps keep my word count up. Thank you Rachel Aaron. She had great advice about upping your word count her blog.
I am planning on sitting down with the half-done draft of novel-1 sequel and trying to plot out my second attempt on it. I plan to do that after I finish my NaNo novel, which is I am semi-pantsing. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out and if it works out. It is scary, but I enjoy pushing myself to try new techniques and ideas. I’ve heard about the beat sheet and story/ narrative structure. So I shall try to employ this while plotting out the high points of sequel to novel-1. Wish me luck.
P.S. On a completely unrelated note, I am super excited about Rachel Aaron’s new book, Spirit’s End. You should totally check it out!
©K. Klein 2012
“Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts” ~Anne Lamott
If you haven’t read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I highly recommend it. It is a book that discusses craft and other writing related things. But what I took out of it the most is that it is ok to write messy, shitty, plot hole ridden first drafts. I spent a long time paralyzed by the idea that I had to write a perfect first draft. It also helped me realize that it is ok to be a kind of crazy writer and that I am not alone. Sometimes writing is such a hermit activity it is easy to think that I am the only one who feels this way.
In any case, I cannot tell you the amount of tyranny that my inner critic ruled my writing life with…that voice, which is helpful during edits and rewrites, is downright stifling when I am just trying to get the story on the page. Part of the initial resistance this NaNoWriMo has been my need to stuff the inner-critic back in its box. He had his mustache-twirling tyrannical joy fest when we edited my pre-NaNo novel. And now it is time for some quiet time in the box. Really. And I don’t feel bad about being mean to him; he is a tyrant after all. (And he was mean to me first.)
Shitty first drafts coupled with NaNoWriMo have allowed me to complete several first drafts now. This November I am rediscovering the joy and the pains of writing a first draft from scratch. Last NaNo, I ventured to write a sequel so I didn’t have to root around as much in my world-building. I am building this new world from scratch. It is terrifying and so much fun at the same time.
I am also learning new things about my craft and my style. I have read Rachel Aaron’s awesome blog post about going from 2k to 10k a day. I haven’t hit 10k in a day yet, but I have hit 5k two days in a row. Just by jotting down the basic events of what I wanted to write for that day. I really enjoyed how she explained her triangle of enthusiasm, knowledge, and time. Check out her post for more information.
In the great pantser vs. plotter debate, I always thought of myself as more of a panster. But I think that is somewhat of a lie; I always hit writer’s block when I don’t know where I am going with the story. I think that I am more of a mental planner. Like I have an idea of where the story is going in my head. A rough outline I guess. So now here I am jotting down brief pre-writing session lists. I am not quite to a full outline stage of planning. Perhaps I am a pantser with plotter tendencies? I don’t know entirely. Although even the greatest planners do get sidetracked from their outlines and plans sometimes – so I don’t think anyone is purely one or the other.
So what do you think? Are you meticulous in your first draft? Do you write shitty first drafts? Are you a plotter or a punster? Or both?
P.S. I am super happy the election is over!
P.P.S. Sorry it has been a while since I blogged, I caught a stupid cold.
©K. Klein 2012