Friday, December 21, 2012

Writers' Fatigue / Self-Imposed Deadline

I have this story I'm writing, called "The Dream Machine."  It's going to be a full-length science fiction book, a genre that I've never seriously attempted to write before.  I'm interested in the story, but something is bogging me down:  Writers' fatigue.

Writers' fatigue sometimes happens during the writing process, and for me, it's almost brought my creative process to a complete standstill.  I've looked online for remedies to this problem, but nothing seems to be helping.

That brings me to my next point:  My self-imposed deadline for the completion of my book.  I've been telling the online community (that's you guys and gals) that my book will be ready by spring of 2013.

Now, why would I do that?  When it comes to writing, I'm my own boss.  I don't answer to a publishing company or an agent, because I'm 100% independent with my writing.  With this kind of freedom, why even mention a deadline at all?  Shouldn't I just write it and release it whenever it's done?  That's what I used to think, but I've also never wrote a full-length book.  I've finished countless term papers, history reports, and essays, but never a full-length book.  What's the difference?  A deadline.

I probably announced my deadline around the middle of this year, and I'm still happy I made that choice.  It keeps my thoughts trained on writing my book, even though my fingers haven't been putting words into chapters recently.

Writers' fatigue isn't something new I'm experiencing.  It only happens when I attempt writing novel-length stories.  In the past I've even looked at pages of text on my computer, considered the time and effort it took me to accumulate the vast amount of story, and then deleted the file because I just couldn't take on the task of finishing something of that magnitude.  Was it a waste?  Not really, because I've learned to write better fiction with every attempt.  Should I have kept those stories, and tried to edit them until I was satisfied with the results?  Maybe, maybe not.

Do I want to delete "The Dream Machine," and let it join the buried remains of previous failed stories from my past?  Hell no!  I'm still trying to make the deadline, and I'm trying different things to get over the hump.  Recently, I tried some free association and came up with some new ideas.  Luckily, there weren't any huge flaws in the story, and the changes I want can be made fairly easy.  All I have to do is fine tune some things, write the copy, and get back on track.

If anyone has pointers for how they overcame writers' fatigue, or what might work for me, please let me know.  My main problem seems to stem from the vast amount of story, and how I can easily cause plot holes if I don't carefully consider the twists and turns.  Until then, have fun writing and I'll try to do the same.  I'm curious to learn about how other writers pace themselves and set goals.  How do you plan out your stories?  Do you set goals for how many words you should write?  If so, do you set your goals by the day, week, or month?  How do you review your material?  How do you get your ideas?  What do you do when you run into writers' block?  What do you do about writers' fatigue?  I'm excited to learn, so let me know.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Things That Slow Me Down

As a writer I enjoy moments of great creation, where the ideas from my mind turn into colorful worlds that flow like paint onto the white background of my word processor...

...Not lately.

Here's a list of some of the things that are slowing me down:

1.  Work

I have a job at a grocery store, working part-time.  This is actually more of a blessing for a writer than a curse.  I used to get paid well, but I had to work a lot more than I do now.  Work isn't really that big of a deal.  I actually enjoy my job, and some days I even have time to think about the stories I write. Still, I would rather have that time devoted to writing.

2.  Family

Heaven forbid I mention family, but it's true.  Don't get me wrong, I love my girlfriend and daughter, but the responsibilities of being the only person in the household with a car and drivers license can be time consuming.  It's a double edged sword; I hope to support my family with book sales at some point in the future (keep dreaming Mr. Hicks? Yes, thank you, I will), but in order to write I have to compromise my time with them.  I would rather write than sit in the parking lot of a grocery store with my screaming daughter while my girlfriend goes in to buy groceries, but I would rather watch television and play games with them than study the grammar and sentence structure of my latest work.

3.  The Story

At some point during the writing process, some writers sit back and say "Are people really going to care?"  After 25,000 words, I have to fight the urge to give up on my story.  It's the familiar tale of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence... It's not!  If you cross the fence you're going to find a brand new story that's suddenly fun and interesting, but after you devote 25,000 carefully crafted words into it, guess what happens... The grass isn't as green as it used to be.  The idea here is to keep my thoughts fresh.  Thoughts can seem stale after a long process of meeting characters and learning about the world they live in, but they would be brand new to each and every person who has never met the characters or lived in that world.

4.  Habit

Get up, check the news, let my daughter watch Sesame Street, eat breakfast, wake my girlfriend up, take a shower, go to work, come home, eat dinner in front of the television, keep watching television, go to bed... Wait... wasn't I supposed to write something today?  Habits are hard to break.  For a while I was in the habit of writing every day.  To a certain extent I have still been writing (even for money!) on a daily basis, but the progress of my novel has suffered, even as I build platforms and networks that should help boost sales as an end result... The problem:  Will I be able to get back into the habit of making time for my novel??

5.  Other Distractions

The news is where I get some of my best ideas.  If not ideas, I get to think about how bizarre the world is, and create WHAT-IF scenarios in my mind that can keep me sidetracked for the rest of the day.  Around the same time I'm checking the news, I like to see how well I'm doing on Yahoo! Contributor Network.  Now, because of all the social networking involved with building my own personal brand of entertainment, I also get to go check Facebook... This isn't as bad as I once thought, especially since I based my profile on writing...  Being online is a great time-waster.  Offline, I mainly have to worry about the television trap (mind control, somebody should write a book about it).

Friday, December 7, 2012

First Impressions / Disclosure

Disclosure is the short story I've been using as my "come-look-at-me" piece for social networking sites, and it bothers me slightly that I didn't spend more time on the story.

I was getting ready to start a new job, and I would be leaving my home, my family, and my internet connection.  Three days before I had to leave I stumbled upon a site many of you will already be familiar with, called Smashwords.

I can publish my own stories??

What a great idea!  Then again, you can't trust everything you read on the internet.  Did I want to send this site something special, some valuable (to me, anyway) piece of intellectual property?  I wasn't so sure about that.  What I chose to do was write something completely new, something short and sweet, something that was intended for a quick read during a lunch break... What I came up with was Disclosure, a short story about the Illuminati disclosing their own existence as well as the existence of an extraterrestrial presence.  I wrote the story in two days, and then I had to leave home.  It wasn't until a few weeks later that I learned my story had not only been published, but had been accepted into the site's premium catalog where it would be distributed to multiple platforms... nice.

So what's the problem?  No problem, really, except now I think my entire future as an independent writer rests heavily on the shoulders of one short story that weighs in at less than 5,000 words in length and was written in such a short time frame that I can barely remember writing it.  That thought is ridiculous, of course.  I can always post more stories... But aren't first impressions the most important?  If so, Disclosure is out there shaking hands, sweaty palms and all, trying to get readers to review, recommend, give likes, give tips, give praise, ask for more, and acknowledge that I have a fighting chance at earning a following.  It's a heavy burden for one little story.