Writer’s Block Is More Like A Kinked Hose Than a Brick
I knew setting myself a big goal like The Million Word Adventure (write a million words in 4 months) was going to stir up the Doubt Dragons big time. The DDs this week are about the size of wasps, but there are thousands of them, with the same clouding, stinging effect of a disturbed hornet’s nest.
I have done many unnecessary things, while listening to a running narrative of “I have to write 10,000 words today. I have to.”
In the first two weeks, I have not hit my daily word goal even once, and I missed my first weekly goal. Some people might see failure looming and give up, but I’m not one of them.
I was blessed with a gigantic helping of optimism in the face of reality, but also the ability to recognize reality (yes, leads for a very interesting internal debate whenever I try something new like this).
Going in, I knew the reality was that I have been actively avoiding the actual writing for several years. I’m telling the stories over and over in my mind — in the grocery line, driving, fixing dinner. If I lived in the future, where you only needed to think the story to get it on the page…no, I’m sure at that point the DDs would find a whole new way to trip me up.
Bad storytelling vs Good storytelling
So far, I’ve been telling myself a lot of stories to justify why I’m not meeting my goals every day.
I’m warming up (true-ish; runners don’t run 20 miles the first day they begin to train for a marathon).
I’m organizing (ha!).
My uncle died (true, and I did spend three days traveling back and forth for the memorial — and telling family stories)
I’m not good at recognizing the impact of listening to the DDs until the end of the day (soooo true)
Bottom line: I still have a lot to learn about how to make myself stop listening to the DDs and sit down and write.
The Truth Shall Set You Free From Doubt Dragons
One way to slay my DDs (or at least slip them a Mickey) is to tell the truth instead of using the half-truth response. I used a lot of those when dealing with questions about my writing in the past. If I was behind in my word count, I would cheerfully deflect questions with, “I’m having such a blast with this new plot twist I added.” Or “I’m wrestling with a plot element that just isn’t working.”
These would be true statements, but would prevent me from sharing the bald truth that I was 10,000 words into a 100,000 word novel and the deadline was so close only a miracle would allow me to make the deadline (miracle=very long days of writing non-stop and one day shipping to get the book to the editor on the day it was due; many other writers can relate, judging by the stories we swap at conferences).
The motivation that helped me deliver my books on time was a deadline backed with teeth. If I didn’t make that deadline, someone would be inconvenienced, if not downright disappointed. And I’d have to pay back the advance if I didn’t finish the book.
But I don’t have a traditional publisher now, so the deadlines are of my own making, and have no teeth. My critique partners are other writers who are more relieved than disappointed when I don’t slap another book on the virtual table for them to interrupt their own lives to read). My editors have plenty of other clients to fit into any slot I don’t take.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who knows that deadlines make goal setting easier, but it is the sharpness of the accountability teeth (the scale when you’re trying to lose twenty pounds for that wedding, the running group when you’re training for a marathon, etc.) that prevents you from giving up when the DDs attack.
So I’m issuing a call to action to anyone who wants to hold me accountable and help me beat back the cloud of stinging DDs: subscribe to my one of my newsletters (the general one, or the 1MWordAdv specific one). Let me know there are people who will be disappointed if I let the DDs win.
I will be celebrating benchmarks and milestones by giving away prizes, as I’ve already said. BUT, when I don’t make a weekly goal — I’ll be giving away a $5 gift card (winner’s choice of iTunes, Amazon, or B&N) to someone on either my newsletter lists, on my Facebook Page, or a Twitter follower.
This week, I’ll be doing a giveaway on Friday, and all my newsletter subscribers, as of that date, will be eligible for the $5 gift certificate drawing.
I still have until Sunday at midnight (EST) to make the second week’s deadline.
I’m going to do it.
But if I don’t, my Facebook fans are going to get a chance at a $5 gift card next Friday.
Take that, Doubt Dragons.