Good Ol’ Writer’s Block

I’ve been in a bit of a writing rut, recently. Which is really, incredibly unfortunate, as writing is what I want to do for the rest of my life. However, the light is at the end of the tunnel! I can see a future where I’m not in a rut! Can you believe?

I have some big ideas and I’m the process of planning said big ideas. It’s been a little challenging to motivate myself to put these ideas into the world, due to a a large amount of self-doubt with a hint of depression, but the more I talk about doing it, the more I feel like the motivation is there to actually get it done. So maybe I’ll just keep spamming Twitter with how excited I am about this novel that I want to write, and eventually, it’ll just come into existence. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, in the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep my mind active with prompts and whatnot. I use a book called 642 Things to Write About when I need some sort of direction for warm-up writings, and one of the prompts asked what writer’s block feels like. All writers are far too familiar with the feeling, and with the deep rut that I’ve been in (which I’m almost out of, I promise), I figured I’d know exactly which direction to go in, with this.

So here you go. Here’s a little thing I wrote, and hopefully after putting this into the world, my writer’s block will be gone. (If only it were that simple.) Enjoy!


Writer’s block is like getting ecstatic about the cookies you have in the oven, only for them to come out burned and bitter. It feels like getting to the top of a roller coaster only for it to stop, and have to take the stairs all the way back down. It feels like watching words and stories fly through your head and around your body, but not being able to grab hold of them and put them onto a blank word document.

Imagine having all of these ideas, all of this drive, and all of this desire to see entire movies in your head become a piece of readable text, only to sit in front of your computer wondering why your fingers just won’t move. Wondering why your brain decided that, this very moment that you hyped yourself up to finally get shit done, is the moment it decided to quiet itself. You wonder how you can turn up the volume on the inspiration to drown out the thoughts that want to tell you how much you suck as a writer, but now matter how loud you empower your inspiration to be, sometimes, all you hear is “you have nothing interesting to say.”

Writer’s block is knowing you have interesting stories to tell, but feeling like no one is going to think the same. Writer’s block tells you “it’s over for you; this is it. You’re not going anywhere else with whatever it is you’re trying to write, so you better just stop.” It can be one of the most self-destructive forces out there.

But it isn’t always that way.

Sometimes, it just feels like you’re empty. Sometimes it feels like you’ve squeezed out all of your best work already, and there’s nothing else left. Can it possibly get better than the 2,000 word streak, where you were so deep into the story in your head, you looked back up at the clock and realize time left you behind? That feeling of elation can be so nice, but sometimes it’s so short-lived, when you feel like that zone will never be back in reach. You can write whatever words come to mind, and hope to stumble your way back into that zone, or you can step away from the computer and hope to find that zone elsewhere. It’s never exactly where you want it to be, and that can be frustrating when all you want to do is see words fly across the monitor.

What can I say about writer’s block other than “it sucks?” Not much, I guess. It just does. It’s crippling to get so excited to create, to inspire, and to tell a story that’s begging to get out there, only to feel like what you’re about to put onto the word document is purely vomit. It’s sucks to feel those walls appear all around you just as you’re ready to tell the tale, feeling like those words within you that were once incredibly inspiring now have no place other than within those walls. But we persevere, and we find ways to chip away at those walls. They can’t keep us in for long; our stories demand to be told.

Oh, Hey! I’m Published!

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You know that book I was going to be featured in? Well, it’s officially available for purchase!

You can order it directly from the publisher here, or if Amazon is more your style, you can order it from them here.

I worked quite hard on this piece, and though it’s hard to believe that I got published in this book full of super talented writers, I also know that my hard work paid off, and I’m thrilled to see that I’m talented enough to be among them.

As a reminder, the piece within the book focuses on some feelings around my mother’s passing, and how things will be different, moving on. I could say more, but that would be a spoiler!

I’m so thrilled that the book is finally available for y’all! PLEASE feel free to let me know what you think about the piece!

My Writing Is Getting Published!

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So you know how I was talking about the fact that I’m going to have some writing published in a book, soon? Well, that book is now available for pre-order! The book itself is a collection of excerpts from Arizona-based writers, in both fiction and non-fiction genres. I’m not only excited to see my excerpt in a solid, tangible book, but I’m also very excited to be featured along so many other talented writers!

The excerpt I wrote for the book discusses some feelings I had around my mother’s passing. A parent passing away is such an interesting (and yes, painful) time for introspection, and pondering about how life will be much different due to the fact that they’re gone. I had some complex feelings surrounding her death, and it was not only cathartic for me to get these words out into the world, but was cathartic to turn these feelings into a strong piece of art. I really did put my heart in it. I wouldn’t have submitted it if I didn’t stand strongly behind it.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering this book, here is the link that you can use to get a copy of your own! It will be out on October (date here), and I can’t wait for you to read it!

Collaboration and Accountability

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Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

I was talking with my sister about writing projects, as she’s also quite the writer, herself. I talked about how I had all of these ideas for big projects that I can’t really just get out of my head. She happened to be stuck in a similar rut, and though she said she’d been wanting to get out of her writing dry spell, she managed to crank out a pretty great poem. That’s the thing about her, though; she has ideas, and she immediately guns for them. With my ideas, I can often find it hard to stay in the present.

She mentioned at one point that she wanted to collaborate with more people for the ideas she had, and one part that stuck out for me is that she wanted to do it for the sense of accountability. There would be someone else working with her who’s depending on her input, so if she falls short in getting the work done, it’s not just failing her, but will also be failing someone else. I’m certain most of it is because she actually enjoys working with others to get to a common goal, but the accountability part struck me as particularly interesting, because I can’t say that I’ve ever thought of it, that way.

I’ve always been interested in collaboration with others, but always fall short in knowing just what I should do to initiate it. Like, I know what a good approach for collaboration sounds like, but my mind is always telling me “Ooh gurl, you gonna get REJECTED.” That’s not really the best reason to discourage myself from it, but hey, we all have our battles with insecurity to face. I know plenty of talented, hardworking individuals who put out some amazing work, and I know our talents combined can be a force to be reckoned with, but…I don’t know. I suddenly feel like I don’t know what to offer when I approach them, which I’m aware is a defeatist attitude that has no place in my line of work. However, I just get too into my head comparing my own talents with the talents of others, and start feeling like I don’t have much to offer. Neat! (Not.)

Anyway, if I can work through my imposter syndrome with my talents, I could actually ask people about collaborations, but this got me thinking about which ways I actually do hold myself accountable, for the projects I take part in. I committed to releasing a blog post every Tuesday, I have a set schedule for when I stream on Twitch, and I have certain rewards on my Patreon that I make sure get put up in a week (on a good week. I do realize I need to get better at regularly updating on there). Aside from that, I try to use sheer willpower to commit myself to write at least 500 words of something every day, but even then, it doesn’t always happen. It seems like, for the things I know people are expecting of me each week, I can get those out without fail. But when it’s something I have to hold myself accountable for, I’m suddenly at a loss. There’s no fountain of infinite productivity. It’s just a bowl of stagnant water.

While I can’t collaborate on every single project that I do, it does get me thinking about how I can implement similar ideas to hold myself accountable. Whether that’s rewarding myself for staying on track, only doing “relaxing” things after I’ve gotten a good amount of scheduled work done for the day (and actually making a schedule of tasks I want to get done), or something along this lines, I think I’ll be able to find a sense of accountability. I have too many projects, and too many things I want to accomplish, so finding a way to make sure I take the responsibility needed to achieve those goals is not just desired, but necessary, at this point.

What ways do you keep yourself accountable for getting work done? Leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear about how you keep yourself on track!daniel-cheung-554579-unsplash (thumbnail)

NaNoWriMo’s Most Important Lesson

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National Novel Writing Month is coming to a close VERY soon! For all of those who have been literally writing their buns off this month, congrats to you! You’re incredible, and the determination alone to get to that near-impossible word count is enough to get you to make it as a writer. If you don’t get to the 50,000 word mark, guess what? You’re still pretty freaking cool, and don’t let anybody make you feel like you’re not.

This year in particular, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t want to participate in NaNoWriMo because aiming for a word count isn’t their thing, or that they won’t like to write long-form pieces. These are both valid reasons, of course, but I feel like they really ignore the spirit of what NaNoWriMo truly offers. Yes, there is a goal that you’re working toward, but what you can truly take away from NaNoWriMo is that you really did have the determination to sit in front of your computer for several hours a day, and write words that your brain generated onto a blank document. It’s not about the fact that you were trying to meet a deadline, or that you have to prove that you could even write a novel-lengthen piece of writing in such a short amount of time; it’s about the fact that you had the determination within you to do it all along.

I feel like I’ve shared this story with the Internet before, but hey, the Internet is constantly changing, and therefore, so has my views on my past writing experiences. I’ve only ever made it to 50,000 words once during a National Novel Writing Month, and that was in 2010 during my freshman year of college. I literally wrote with every free minute that I had. “Just finished all of my homework? Time to write!” “Watching a movie with friends that I’ve already seen? I can squeeze some writing in!” “Waiting for laundry to get done? The low hum of a dryer could make for a great backdrop for being productive on my novel!” “It’s midnight and I should really be in bed because I have a 9am class tomorrow, but if I stay up, think of all of the writing I could get done!” 

Each year after that, I fell very flat on making that word count. I sat in front of my computer with every intention of creating something new, but feeling more like I was firing blanks in a dark room. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time to write, or maybe there was too much else going on during my college years, as well as transitioning into a society outside of that bubble, that put up a giant writer’s block. What mattered in those moments was that I still tried. The determination and the resolve was still there, even if fountain of creativity wasn’t flowing. I hadn’t lost the feeling of wanting to create.

That novel that made it to 50k words in 2010 will never see a world outside of my hard drive, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to write. Looking back on it, I probably worked on that novel at some inopportune times, but what I learned about myself through all of that obsessing over getting to 50k words is something I’ve carried with me up until this very moment. I do have the drive and the creativity to write a novel-length story. I can make the time to get these things done if they’re truly important, to me. I will think about these parts of myself every time I get ready to type out another piece that I can be proud of, because that feeling of creating something produced and molded by my own creativity is what I enjoy most about writing.

Don’t think about how many words you’ve written for National Novel Writing Month. Instead, think about how many times you sat down to work more on your novel. Don’t compare yourself to others who have double or triple the word count that you have. Instead, think about where your novel is going, and get yourself excited for getting it there. And ultimately, remind yourself that November is not the only time that a drive to write several thousand words of your own creative content can exist. 

Do I Even Know My Protagonist?

 

So we’re more than halfway into the National Novel Writing Month adventure, and though my progress has been much slower than I anticipated, I’m still chugging along at a speed I’m pretty happy with. I recently passed the 10,000 word mark, which most of the participants are WELL over, by now. I, however, have been trying as hard as I can to not beat myself up about it. I’ve been doing as much as I can whenever I can do it, and that’s definitely what matters most! Now if only I can lock myself away in a cozy café (like the one above) and tell the world to stop bothering me so I can reach this 50,000 word goal, that would be pretty great.

One thing I’ve been noticing as I’ve gotten deeper into writing this novel is…I don’t think I really know my main character as much as I thought I did. This isn’t a new phenomenon in my world of writing. I had a novel I started where the main character must have had like, ten mood swings, five personality changes, and was both terrified and apathetic at the same time. I mean, I knew who he was, and what he was supposed to go through. I can’t quite grasp why I felt like he needed to be a completely different person on every different page, but for some reason, that’s how it subconsciously (and, well, consciously) happened. 

I feel it happening again in this story, but not quite to the same degree. I keep making choices for Leo (the protagonist in my current novel) that make me have to stop, take a few moments, and think “is that something he would actually do?” It becomes difficult, because I desperately try to convince myself that the choice is within his personality. It’s hard because I start conflating what needs to happen for the story to progress with what my protagonist would do in the situations I put him in. So as the story progresses, I’m seeing that I could, yet again, have a character that goes through a few different personality changes that make absolutely no sense.

Despite this insecurity about my protagonist, I don’t think this is a rare problem. Despite all the planning you might do for the personalities of your characters, you could always get stumped by the situations that they end up in. It’s very possible that you could know your character inside and out, but once they come face-to-face with say, an abusive ex who gave them all kinds of seemingly irreversible trauma, it’s hard to gauge what they would truly do in that moment. Shoot, it’s hard to know what I’d even do if I came face-to-face with a guy who simply broke my heart; I can understand not knowing what a fictional character would do in a much more intense situation. 

Just like most things in life, we learn through experience. You can be as intensive as possible during the prep-work of writing a short story, novel, etc., but still get taken aback when you’re now putting your characters into uncharted territory. The thing is: that’s what first drafts are for. We’re not writing these to be published immediately after they’re created, and all that we wrote for these characters isn’t useless or a waste of time. It’s us taking the time to learn about them as we go, to see what works best for their personalities as we take them through the story. Sure, we may end up deleting that moment where the main character told off his ex boyfriend because we wanted him to have a “hero” moment to kick off the story, despite him starting off as a generally timid person, but that doesn’t make the writing we did for that scene completely useless. It was a necessary step to get a feel for whether or not it would actually work, and for us to work with it, molding it into something within the realm of the world we created.

We don’t have to know everything about the novel as we’re writing it; it’ll develop itself as we continue to create it. Though this will make the editing process pretty daunting, at least we go into it with a better sense of who are characters are, the environment they’re interacting with, and the kind of story you want your novel to tell.