Friday, April 5, 2013

Crawling Into Spring

What is it with this time of year? I've talked to numerous people who are at that stage in their writing where they just can't gather the motivation to carry on and their stories lie on the shelf gathering dust.

It seems cyclical.

Fall comes, we dust off the shelves and dive into the stories, ripping out page after page. Stop and read, edit, scream and pull out our hair because it's not working, but we quickly work through the problem and carry on.

Winter comes...and of course Christmas. We slow down, suddenly remembering our other lives and our families. We dote and overspend, making up for all the neglect we've inflicted over the past months.

The new year arrives and cracks its whip, spiraling us into gear. We write, rewrite. Throw out. Start over. But we write. Maybe we even start a new project because the drain of that one life we're writing about takes a toll. But the point is, we write.

Spring. Ah, yes spring. Around here spring is a blend of winter and spring...winter never quite wanting to let go, spring struggling to escape its grasp. And then we stall. Like we're waiting in limbo to see what the weather is going to do. Sure we want to get out and be more active after being cooped up. We suddenly remember there's a family waiting for us...waiting to be fed...since fall. And then our priorities shift. Even though, all we really want is to finish this damn story. Because face it...when summer hits...we really will do NOTHING.

My question is...if writing is a job...our passion...our career. Why don't we treat it that way? Any other place, if you seasonally slacked off, you'd be fired. So why can't we treat this with the same determination and intent?

Ok...probably because we aren't getting paid for it and we have no one to be accountable to except ourselves.

I see many people taking creative writing classes, one after another, because the assignments keep them focused. Keep them writing. But...there comes a time when we're not going to have that push and have to do the damn thing on our own.

I've made considerable progress on my novel this year. And I can clearly see the story, where it's going and how it's going to get there. I'd say I'm nearly half way there. But like everyone else, I work in spurts.

It's April. It's spring. Spring signals newness and growth. Fresh energy after a winter slumber. Let's embrace it. Take it for what it is and channel that natural energy into our fingers. Into our stories.

Here's my spring challenge and I invite anyone who is having trouble staying on task this spring to join me.

1. Carve our writing time. One hour, two hours. An evening. Go somewhere if you need to or crawl into your writing space and shut the door. (no door? Just put on your invisibly cape and ignore everything around you.)

2. Write. It doesn't have to be magnificent. It just has to be. Put words on the page. Aim for one page per day. That's about 250 double-spaced words.

3. Work on whatever you feel like. Novel, short story. Write a poem if you want. Find daily writing prompts and use them if you're stuck.

I use writing prompts to fuel my novel project when something isn't making sense. I take the prompt and make it work into my story. It may or may not be used, but at least it gets you thinking about your characters and maybe you'll see them in a new light. They might reveal something unexpected to you.

It's not easy. It takes discipline like anything worth doing. But in the end, you will thank yourself.

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