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.

***

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.

***

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

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ROW80 Check Ins

ROWd Awakening

screaming kittty cat

You know how you’re cruising merrily along sometimes…then you plow into a wall you really should have seen coming?

Yep, that sums up the writing part of my week.

Fortunately, everything else is (mostly) going according to plan.

Here’s whats ROWing on:

You can see last week’s goals here.

Writing

Last Week

Three scenes and most of a fourth reworked.

The goal was eight. That probably would have been a big stretch even if I hadn’t hit that wall I mentioned earlier. A more reasonable goal would have been five.

And that wall? Yeah, about that… Continue reading “ROWd Awakening”

ROW80 Check Ins

I See Your ROW is as Big as Mine

vader's lightsaber

About a week ago, in a ROW80* not so very far away, goals were set and met (for a pleasant change of pace).

Here’s how it’s going:

You can see last week’s goals here.

Writing

Last Week

 

2/2 scenes reworked. One scene essentially needed to be written from scratch, the other was short and needed little reworking. Still, it’s more than I’ve accomplished with writing in weeks. It felt very good.

This Week

I’m seriously questioning the likelihood I’ll get the rest of my manuscript reworked before the end of the year. 8 scenes a week? I must be nuts. Still, I’m going to give it a go this week. Actually, it should be 9-10 scenes, given that I worked on 2 last week. Yeah…I’m going to stick with 8.

Continue reading “I See Your ROW is as Big as Mine”

ROW80 Check Ins

On the ROWd Again

road

The ROW has come ’round at last, and a new round lies before us.

By “at last” I mean “almost two weeks ago.” The latest round began Oct 2, but it’s never too late to join. Actually, once the round is over, it’s too late to join. But there’s always the next round.

By ROW, I mean ROW80, the marvelous bloggy challenge that offers us a platform to create goals (writing and otherwise), a cheering section to keep us motivated (while you, in turn motivate your fellow ROWers) and accountability  (since goals are publicly announced).

Also, there may be a very small chance that, upon failure to meet your goals, you will be set upon by zombie hounds…okay, okay, so that last part isn’t true…but, if it keeps you motivated, go with it.

Anyway, you can read more about ROW80 here and see the latest check in post here.

On the to goal stuff: Continue reading “On the ROWd Again”

writing

How Do You Get Unstuck?

cat in a tree
Climb the tree, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. There’s a tasty bird’s nest…Oh well. At least the view is nice from up here.

Stuck. Blocked. Out of juice. We’ve all found ourselves there, especially creative types (how we do like to get ourselves in trouble). How is sometimes, in the middle of being stuck, you can’t seem to remember how you ever got unstuck before? You think, I know I’ve gotten myself out of these situations somewhere along the line. Sure,  maybe it’s not the same exact situation, but there must have been something similar enough to help out now.

And, in your head, all you hear is crickets.

And maybe the occasional giggle.

Or maybe that last part is just me. *shrug* Continue reading “How Do You Get Unstuck?”

ROW80 Check Ins

End of the ROW

red fox
There’s a finish line here somewhere. I just know it.

We made it to the end of this round of ROW80*. Break out the champagne. Or something.

Officially, ROW80 was up on the 21st, but I wanted to finish out the week for my goals…mostly because I forgot about the last week of ROW80 being a half week when I was working up Sunday’s goal list.

Overall, this round was a mixed bag for me. I feel like I was much, much slower on my writing than I would have liked, but I was solid on all my other goals.

And there’s some insight on my personality right there. I can do well on most of my goals and still bemoan slow progress on one goal. Silly, really. I need to celebrate the wins, then figure out how to make those wins in my weaker areas (lately, writing).

So, not a mixed big. Overall, the ROW was successful. Go me.

Let’s take stock, shall we? You can see last week’s goals here. Continue reading “End of the ROW”

ROW80 Check Ins

That’s How it ROWs

cat on a bench
I see you up there, goals. I will get you.

You know how, when your foot falls asleep and goes numb, then wakes up with that horrible pins and needles sensation? You know it’s going to pass, but it drives you nuts until it does. You just have to remind yourself, it will pass.

At the moment, that’s what I’ve got going on with my motivation and enthusiasm. They’re waking up, so that’s good. It’s just not the most comfortable experience.

Add a nice bit of jury duty (still ongoing, by the way) on top of all that, and it makes for an interesting week, goal-wise.

Anywho, let’s see how much go there’s been in my ROW* since last check in: Continue reading “That’s How it ROWs”

just for fun · Life and Stuff

Filling Your Creative Well A Little at a Time

Creativity is a bit of a mystery to me.

Sometimes, I feel overflowing with creative energy. I’m driven to make something, anything. My writing calls to me, sweetly, begging me to sit down and pour out the words.

Other times, I feel like I’m looking into a dark, dry well. I send my bucket down, hoping for a few drops of creativity to soothe my parched spirit, but there’s nothing to be had.

What drains the well, and what fills it back up again?

I don’t have the whole answer for you, but it’s at least partly a matter of the balance between play and focus. Sometimes, when we’re working on a big creative task, we get so focused on getting it done, we forget to enjoy ourselves, to play around with it. That lack of play drains our spirit, leaving us feeling barren. On the other hand, when we allow ourselves room to play, even if it’s not with the project at hand, we refill that well.

Lately, I’ve been struggling to find the enthusiasm I need to keep going on several goals, especially my novel-in-progress. We’ve had a couple of big upsets in the family. I think that’s thrown me off. But more than that, I think I’ve been too intent on just getting my goals done. I’ve forgotten why I set the goals in the first place and the joy with which I first embraced them. That lack of just plain fun has sapped my creativity.

My friend and fellow blogger, Jay Squires, reminded me that a little bit of creativity just for the heck of it can go a long way toward refilling the well. Continue reading “Filling Your Creative Well A Little at a Time”

ROW80 Check Ins

Wherefore Art Thou, My ROW?

balcony
O ROWmeo, ROWmeo…

It’s not really my ROW I’m searching for, it’s my motivation. It snuck out in the middle of the night. Probably to party. I expected it to come slinking home just before dawn, shamefaced at abandoning me and ready to get back to work. Alas, my motivation has stayed away.

I keep standing in motivation’s yard, calling up and getting no response.

Right now, I’m working (not very well) on fumes.

Despite the drag I’m feeling from lack of enthusiastic motivation, I keep on keeping on. I’m sure, pretty sure anyway, that I can coax motivation back if I just keep going. Continue reading “Wherefore Art Thou, My ROW?”

ROW80 Check Ins

A Steaming Cup of ROW

You ever have those days where there doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the world to keep you on track?

Yeah, that’s pretty much been my week.

steaming cup of coffee
Need…more…coffee…soon…

Not that it’s been all bad. We’re getting back on track after our unfortunate car break in incident. I haven’t let too many things slip. But my motivation is severely dragging. Hopefully, I can pep up this week, but I’m keeping my plans light just in case. Continue reading “A Steaming Cup of ROW”