Why are the causes-of and solutions-to others’ conscious-mind mental blocks always more obvious to us than our own? I don’t buy the argument that we’re “too close.” It just doesn’t register for me. Too abstract. So I guess it will remain a mystery.
Regardless, I was inadvertently reminded this morning by another writer (thanks, writer who shall remain anonymous) in another blog post that I temporarily forgot the two basic rules I ususally follow in my writing:
1. Just write the next sentence.
While sitting at a keyboard with the WIP in front of them on the screen, anyone can just write the next sentence that pops into their head. Can’t they?
I mean, given that their fingers aren’t broken. But if they were, I doubt they’d be poised over the keyboard in the first place.
And until you write that next sentence, you can’t possibly know where it might lead. Which is why Just Write the Next Sentence is a good rule to follow.
2. Keep coming back.
Even in the throes of my current life roll, there are plenty of times when I’m physically able to sit down and write.
For example, I can easily choose to sit at the keyboard instead of watching reruns on Netflix. And I never watch the national “news.” The couple of minutes of actual news (the hurricane, for example) isn’t worth wading through all the propaganda.
When I’m not mentally able to write (as I’ve felt has been the case recently), it’s always a conscious-mind-interference thing. Always. Then it’s time to see Rule 1.
The point is, it’s impossible to write new words unless we sit down, put our fingers on the keyboard (or whatever writing apparatus you use), and write.
The writer I mentioned in the second paragraph has admitted having trouble, in spades, getting back up to speed with his writing. I appreciate him having nudged me out of my own minor mess through his post.
As one way of saying thanks to that unfortunate writer, I offer the following as a kind of writer-to-writer first aid, and I’m offering it in this venue only because it might stop someone else from making the same mistake, the same reason I lay bare my own silly mistakes. (Of course, with the disclaimer that every writer is different.)
I suspect the problem began when he took down the earlier versions of his work and critically edited them so he could offer a “clean” re-release. Or I might be wrong. This is only my supposition.
(In the interest of full disclosure, when I’ve noticed after publishing a glaring error [wrong character name, glaring typo in the first few pages, etc.] I’ve corrected the original file and then uploaded the new document to replace the old one. But I’ve never taken work down or “unpublished” it.)
That critical edit and the pending re-release alone told the writer’s subconscious (the storyteller) that it was of lesser value to him than his critical mind. This is one of many reasons looking back is very seldom (or never) a good idea.
Maybe more importantly, but in a bad way, that act also gave his conscious mind the permission and inroads to intrude on his writing now.
And so it IS intruding, full-force. And I suspect his subconscious is standing over in the corner, facing away and arms crossed over its chest, refusing to talk to him. The subconscious is, after all, pretty much a two year old.
In this state of affairs, pretty much any excuse will do to keep him from writing new stuff. (Or again, I might be wrong.)
For an obvious example (to me), let’s say maybe this writer feels he “can’t” write until his family members get home. But once they get home, other priorities kick in — priorities that have to do with his family members’ presence.
So when they’re away, he can’t write, and when they get home, writing is no longer a priority. (Unless I’m wrong, which is always possible.)
IMHO, this writer is entering a vicious cycle. If he were piloting a plane, the ground would be rising quickly to meet him. I really hope he pulls up in time.
Of course, again, every writer is different. And of course, my suspicions might be way off base. I honestly hope they are.
But I’ll leave this here in case it might help anyone else curtail a similar problem in their own writing.
To the Hovel around 8:30 and added 1500 words to the WIP. A break at 10 for a trip to the store.
I thought about going back to the Hovel, but I’m really tired so I think I’ll take what I have and start fresh again early tomorrow morning.
Talk with you again soon.
For something very special, see this BBC Four interview with Roald Dahl at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQkz_X1Rg60. Fascinating. I especially like that he writes in his own “Hovel.”
See “Back on Track” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/back-on-track/.
Fiction Words: 1466
Nonfiction Words: 810 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2276
Writing of Nick 3 (novel, tentative title)
Day 1…… 3422 words. Total words to date…… 3422
Day 2…… 2664 words. Total words to date…… 6086
Day 3…… 3190 words. Total words to date…… 9276
Day 4…… 1090 words. Total words to date…… 10366
Day 5…… 1466 words. Total words to date…… 11832
Total fiction words for the month……… 12132
Total fiction words for the year………… 326863
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9790
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 127606
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 454219
Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 7
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 33
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 6
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………………… 193