Life and Stuff

How Do You Handle a Setback

wide open door

Some weeks ago, I hit a wall. I’d just recovered from a deeply frustrating lack of enthusiasm and motivation for my writing (actually, the lack had crept into most everything I was working on) and begun to pick up steam again. Then, boom, there was the wall…in the form of lost work.

When I write, I alternate between the computer and old-fashioned pen and paper (sometimes my phone if my notebook isn’t handy). For long stretches, I work almost exclusively longhand. The rhythm of writing by hand, though it’s much less efficient and more time-consuming than typing, often frees my creativity in a way the keyboard can’t. The challenge for me is making sure the longhand stuff makes it to the computer, where it can be backed up and synced.

Earlier this year we were burgled, and my current writing notebook, which was in my computer bag, was taken along with our laptops and a couple other things. Amazingly (it felt like a little miracle, especially because we weren’t expecting it), the police found the laptops and returned them to us. The notebook was not. While I was initially sad about not getting the notebook back, I didn’t fret over much as I thought I had most, if not all, the scenes it contained already transcribed to Scrivener.

Sadly, this was not the case. I had several of the scenes transcribed, but many of the important ones were only in that notebook.

Still, I thought I could power through it anyway. I’d written the scenes once before. The info was all still in my head. I’d write them again, better this time.

I couldn’t. That lack of enthusiasm I thought I’d conquered came raging back. After a lot of savage threats to my muse, digging my heals in and mental hand wringing, I realized the wall I’d hit wasn’t going to budge. And it wasn’t losing the notebook, although that was the final straw. It was that I’d lost too much momentum on my WIP over the last year. Moreover, powering through it wasn’t going to work in this particular case. I had to step back.

I’d invested a tremendous amount of time and heart in this project. I thought it’d be my first published work. Putting it on the back burner felt like losing a friend. Yet, the need for it had been there for a good long while. I’d just been desperately trying to ignore it. All that struggle to write even a little these last few months was the folks in the basement of my brain telling me it was time to take a different path. But it took a big setback to get me to see it.

Once I got over the initial shock of putting the project aside, I found I was deeply relieved. I felt free, my creativity revitalized. Another story idea that’s been bouncing around my brain for months surged to the forefront and is now in the planning stages.

I hope to return to my previous project. The story’s a good one. I loved it enough to stick with it for years. But it’s also okay if I don’t. I’ve learned so much about the process of writing. I morphed from a full-on pantser to  a mostly plotter. I now have a more visceral understanding of plot structure, character and theme and how to apply that to a story. None of that is wasted stuff, even if the story that earned if for me never sees daylight.

So, triumph out of tragedy. The optimist in me knows that good can come out of the crap life throws at us, if we look hard enough. But the cynic in me sometimes has a tough time believing it. I guess I just needed another object lesson.

Oh, and I’ve also learned to transcribe the handwritten stuff at least once a week. That might be the most important lesson.

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A brief note about ROW80: I’m taking a break for the next couple weeks or so. I may not rejoin this round at all. I need to get a firmer grip on the new stuff I’m working on first. However, I still plan to cheer all my fellow ROWers. Good luck with all your goalishness.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you realized the best course of action was the one you least wanted to take?

Photo Credit
Open the door by Mark Dries, on Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

ROW80 Check Ins

Every ROWse Has its Thorns

Cactus Flower

For the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling to keep my productivity up. It’s partly a (temporary) lull in motivation, partly some minor life upheaval, and partly creative fatigue. I’m thankful things are beginning to turn around. The effects of the minor life upheaval have dissipated, motivation is beginning to revive and the creative well is (slowly) refilling. I’m looking forward to regaining a happy momentum…the sooner the better.

This experience has reminded me that I need to plan for dips in motivation and creative fatigue. Both are normal parts of any goal-oriented journey. And I’ve realized that I can’t always rely on momentum alone to keep me going. Friction, my friends, is the enemy of perpetual motion machines and mental processes (different kinds of friction, I know…but, whatever).

Now, I just need to put a plan together. No problem, right?

Sure.

In the mean time, let’s see what’s been going on with my ROW* since last check in: Continue reading “Every ROWse Has its Thorns”

Life and Stuff

How Do You Revive Your Motivation?

bridge
You’ve come to that bridge. Now cross it.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with a lack of motivation. Only, it’s not so much a lack of motivation in the strictest sense. I want to achieve the goals I’ve set. I’m willing to take the steps necessary. What I’m lacking is enthusiasm. Every step I take on the path to my goal has lately felt like just another thing to tick off my list.

So, is that a lack of motivation? A sign that I just need to keep plugging along until my enthusiasm picks up again? Or do I need some time off to replenish my creative energy?

I found two blogs this morning that I think are helpful for anyone struggling with finding their motivation and/or enthusiasm: Continue reading “How Do You Revive Your Motivation?”

Life and Stuff

Sometimes You Have to Risk Looking Stupid

You ever have those moments where you wonder what the heck you’re doing, if your efforts are worth the time, or you’re just going to end up looking stupid?

It could be you’re learning something new, gearing up to talk to someone new, gathering the courage to speak out for what you believe in, or prepping to do something you don’t usually do. And, boom, you’re seized with doubts. Assuming those doubts are just good old-fashioned irrational fear and not some inkling of the potential for serious and unreasonable harm in your actions, I say check out the chicken below:

Now, folks keep calling this chicken (let’s call her Francine…because I like the name Francine) stupid. But who, with very little effort, walks away with not one but two portable snacks? The other chickens just keep pecking aimlessly, but Francine gets her food to go so she can go on being awesome.

Stupid? I think not. 😉

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Note: No ROW80 check in today. I’ll update on Sunday. I hope all your ROW80 goals are moving right along!

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How do you talk yourself out of the fear of feeling stupid?

Tuesday Toss-Up

I Love the Smell of Hiatus in the Morning

Yeah…okay…that title sounds a little off to me too.

Oh well.

As the year winds down and the holidays approach, I’m scrambling to wrap up my biggest goal for this year: finish my novel. The first draft anyway. As I’ve moved the deadline for this goal more than once, I feel especially compelled to make it happen this time. I’m taking inspiration from Ze Frank’s Invocation for Beginnings and harnessing my inner John McClane.

Let’s do this thing!

With that in  mind, I’m putting this blog on hiatus until the new year.

While I’ll be hunkering down and getting the job done (yippee ki-yay), I won’t disappear entirely from the online world. I’m planning to catch up with all the fellow bloggers, peeps and tweeps I’ve had so little chance to connect with this year. I joined the blogosphere and social media for the awesome community and, as I’ve wrestled with balancing home, work-projects and getting to The End,  I’ve missed hanging out with all you super folks.

And I. Will. Finish. This. Novel.

In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite posts to entertain you while I’m (mostly) away. Kind of like hold music…only, hopefully, much more interesting.

What Really Drives Dexter Morgan?
Old Favorites: Best Classic Movies
Spam and Eggs: Gems from the Spam Filter
Do You Remember Those Saturday Morning Cartoons?
How to Build a Zombie

And here’s one from Ze Frank, because he rarely never fails to make me laugh and/or think:

 

Got a favorite post, meme or YouTube video? Yours or someone else’s. Go ahead and share the linky love.

Tuesday Toss-Up

How Do You Get Motivated?

Last week, Patrick Thunstrom shared an amazing, inspiring video. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

For anyone who has ever been afraid to start a project or change direction in life, this is for you.

Whether you’re looking at a new career path, writing/art project, health routine, relationship, or anything that means change in your life (even the small things can feel daunting), this video may inspire you to say “F**k it, let’s do it!” or “F**k it, let’s do this thing!”

Or maybe “Let’s do this thing!”

You know, however you roll. Continue reading “How Do You Get Motivated?”