I wish I had completed stories I could put up here, but alas they’re all still being formed. Some more than others, but not one is anywhere near finished. Actually, I lied. I have two completed short stories, both of them fanfiction.
There’s the bizarre Harry Potter fanfic I wrote from a dream I had while I was trying to get to sleep. You know, one of those dreams that your brain whips up when you’re falling asleep or starting to wake up. The incredibly weird, warped dreams that make you go “what?” It was one of those and it made me wake right up and scribble it down before trying to get to sleep again. I’ll post that one soon – I’m quite proud of it.
And then there’s the Bucky Barnes fic that also came from a dream (you’ll find, as I write more about my stories, that this is an all too common trend for me). It was after I’d watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theater for about the third time (it was a damn good movie. And I have a very soft spot for Sebastain Stan.) That one I may post. Haven’t quite decided yet.
But those are the only two that are done. And neither are original works. Writing is excruciatingly difficult, at least for me. I’m always too hard on myself for not producing great first drafts before reminding myself that it’s a first draft and the whole point of it is to not be perfect. Then there’s stewing over ideas and minute plot points that really don’t matter right now; staring at black word documents willing the words to come out, being able to see in your mind exactly what you want to happen but not being able to put it into writing; endless procrastination; the hoards of self-doubt goblins that are drawn to you like moths to a flame, making you re-read old story ideas or, god forbid, old drafts of the thing your working on; going down a hole of too much research and forgetting why you’re there in the first place; and, the most dreaded of all: writer’s block.
If you shudder at simply seeing the words, I hear you. I just got over a year long block. One whole year. Bah. When it went away it was like a fog being lifted from around me, and it was thanks to my mom getting me Complete The Story from Barnes & Noble.* This book is amazing. Seriously, if you’re having a bad bout of writer’s block, buy this book and try to do prompts regularly (I aimed for one a day but certainly didn’t meet that goal, and that’s okay! Don’t box yourself in with hard-lined goals that set you up for a nice round of beating yourself up about it when you don’t meet them.) Let the prompts take you where they take you, let them be as long or as short as you want them to be. They’re the most helpful and freeing writing exercises I’ve ever done. I’ve tried using other prompt books before, but none of them have helped me like this one. I bought a notebook to accompany it so that if I was on a roll and ran out of space in the book, I could continue on with it.
But now I’m back, baby! And it feels so good to be writing again. I’m currently resurrecting the beginning of a novel I started in…2014 I believe, and I’d really burned myself out on it, so shoved it in some folders and let it sit on my desktop until now. It’s really exciting to be working on it once more, and I still love the premise.
I went about it a different way this time. I downloaded this character planner app on my phone (it’s a very handy app – the only downfall in my opinion is that it’s static, you can’t create an account and access your characters on other devices), and during breaks at work I rebuilt my protagonists from the ground up. You can also create locations and write scenes in the app, but I vastly prefer using a physical keyboard or pen and paper to write. Once my characters were rounded out, I started writing. Not even the beginning of the story, just random scenes that I might not even use. I was being very cautious around it, not wanting to spook the writer’s block that was still lurking at the very edges of my mind.
Some tricks I’ve been using:
-Don’t look at what you’ve just written. Seriously. There’s the danger of losing the creative train of thought you just had or what I call accidental editing, where you really didn’t want to edit but couldn’t help seeing things that need to be fixed and fixing them, thus killing the aforementioned train of thought.
-Use separate word docs for each writing session, or chapter, or when you have a certain amount of words in one document. This will help prevent accidental editing
-Write as frequently as possible, but don’t force yourself to write if you absolutely do not want to. I know this goes against what a lot of authors say, but for me, personally, forcing myself to write when I’m just not feeling it at all will very often lead to loss of enthusiasm and writer’s block. Sometimes I’ll write maybe three measly words, but three words is better than no words.
-Write in the morning! I used to be one of those people who would wake up and immediately check their phone, and get stuck down a hole of pointless social media. It set my day up for less productivity, both at work and at home. Now I get up, get dressed, prepare anything I need for work, then write. Mornings are when I’m most creative, and it’s been the best lifestyle tweak I’ve made in a long time.
That’s all I have on this subject for now, and I’ve just realized I’ve skipped breakfast. Time for some food.
*This is not a paid promotion, I just really like this book