It’s dark. It’s creepy. It’s terrifying. There are pitfalls around every bend, and gremlins lie in wait to attack when you hit a wall. There are tears of frustration. Sometimes you want to die. But then, ah, then… other times, you see the sunlight peek through the shadows, and you know everything is going to be ok.
No one ever said being a writer was easy. In fact, Ernest Hemingway said:
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter & bleed.
As a writer, I can attest to the fact that sometimes (most definitely all the times) this is exactly what it feels like. You sit down to write, and one of two things happens: either you write all the words, or you write none of the words. So I end a writing session either exhausted, or discouraged. Needless to say, this is not ideal. It’s not healthy to drain your tank dry so you have nothing left for tomorrow; neither is it healthy to admit defeat and give up. There must be a way to persist!
So, here you are, trying to make your way through
Mordor the WIP Wilderness. Many (way too many) writers make it halfway through, get discouraged, and give up. I never want a fellow writer to get to that point. So, how does one become a WIP Wilderness adventurer and navigator who laughs in the face of desolation and despair, and comes out victorious on the other side? Well. I’ll be the first to say that I’m no expert. However, I have picked up a few tricks along the way that may be of *some use* to *some of you*. (No promises, though.) Here they are:
- Stay off the demon internet. If you’re anything like me, you’ll start out on Wikipedia with excellent intentions of learning all there is to know about the Orient Express, and six hours and thirty-seven link clicks later, you’ll find yourself learning all there is to know about Stevie Wonder’s glasses prescription. And while Stevie Wonder is, indeed, worthy of research, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s got absolutely nothing to do with the Orient Express. So in six hours, you’ve made zero steps of progress on your WIP.
- Don’t be intimidated by the blinking cursor. You are the boss. Make it move. Make it type words. Even if those words are crap. You see, you can edit crap; you can’t edit nothing. Yes, writer’s block is a thing – but you don’t have to let it cripple you. One thing I’ve found that works for me if I’m having a hard time getting words down is free association. I start writing down random words that come to my mind when I think about my WIP. Some of those words will inevitably lead to sentences and scene ideas. Another thing I will try is asking questions about my WIP. The answers will quite often help me solve problems, and put me back on my writing track.
- Don’t get discouraged if your plan changes. I have two jobs, three kids, two dogs, and way too many horses. I’m a busy girl. So I guard my writing time with Anduril in one hand and Aegis in the other, and all who dare to venture near me during writing time do so at their peril. That said, things happen, and plans change. Just roll with it. If your hour’s worth of writing time turns into fifteen minutes, make the most of that fifteen minutes. DO NOT JUST GIVE UP WRITING FOR THE DAY. Use every minute you have at your disposal, even if all you accomplish is one sentence. It’s one sentence you didn’t have written before.
- Keep your creative tank full. I hear people say this all of the time. But what does it actually mean??? Well, this is my interpretation. Writers are artists of a sort. Art appreciates art, and all forms of art compliment each other. So, as a self proclaimed writer-artist, I try to spend some time in the “art world”. I read extensively, I listen to music of all sorts, I visit museums and galleries, I watch movies. You never know where inspiration will strike, so give yourself every opportunity to experience creative outlet. Creativity begets inspiration, and vice-versa.
- Find a writing buddy (or two). I used to think this was nonsense, that the only time a writer needed a pal was at edits time. I was dead wrong. I naturally connected with two other writers, and we have formed a mini-group. We meet twice a month, and share/critique work, have brainstorm sessions, and swap ideas. I have never been so motivated/inspired to write. NEVER. Having someone to hold me accountable, and to encourage me to stick with it, and just finish the project already has been the one thing missing from my writing. Bottom line is, you don’t have to fly solo all the time; find a wing man (or woman).
And though it doesn’t necessarily get a number, also coffee.
All methods don’t work for all people – that’s a fact. But if you’re game to try new things, maybe one of these tips will work for you. And as you venture into the WIP Wilderness, know that you’re not alone. Do you have any tips or suggestions that help you get through the WIP Wilderness?