Today: a roundup of (partly aforementioned) things you can do if your monthly writing orgy isn’t going as planned. Or: what to do if your book won’t have sex with you.
No, that’s a joke. Please stay with me. I’m not going to talk dirty again.
Unless explicitly asked to.
First up: read a bad blog.
I know it sounds really mean, but when I feel particularly down about my ability to write, I go to a few blogs that I abhor, but still can’t stay away from. Why? Because they instantly make me feel better about myself.
Now I used to think it was just schadenfreude that drove me to this lowly behavior, but today I read this quote by John Irving (from The World According to Garp) and suddenly it all made sense to me. There! Lost a bad habit, gained a valid writing strategy.
Years later, Garp read in a critical introduction to Grillparzer’s work that Grillparzer was “sensitive, tortured, fitfully paranoid, often depressed, cranky, and choked with melancholy; in short, a complex and modern man.”
“Maybe so,” Garp wrote. “But he was also an extremely bad writer.”
Garp’s conviction that Franz Grillparzer was a “bad” writer seemed to provide the young man with his first real confidence as an artist – even before he had written anything. Perhaps in every writer’s life there needs to be that moment when some other writer is attacked as unworthy of the job. Garp’s killer instinct in regard to poor Grillparzer was almost a wrestling secret; it was as if Garp had observed an opponent in a match with another wrestler; spotting the weaknesses, Garp knew he could do better.
I fully agree with Irving (or Garp): as a writer, it’s as important to acknowledge the writers who are worse than you as it is to acknowledge those who best you. It’s good to get mad and puff out your chest. It will give you focus and determination. Pshaw! (also, saying ‘pshaw’ out loud when reading a poorly written text will increase your badass factor substantially (especially if you do it wearing a cowboy hat))
I should mention Garp is one of my favorite books, ever.
Then: a post about the kind of writing goals you can set if you’re sick, tired or otherwise indisposed.
Breakdown: don’t worry! Just adapt your goals, stay in touch with your story, hang the sense of it and let your friends buy you loads of drinks.
Also, here is a post about why writing goals may not work for you, anyway.
Breakdown: if you’re a perfectionist or any other sort of neurotic, setting ‘hard’ goals may only get you down instead of motivating you. If that’s the case, you can still set goals, but always set them at about 60% of what you’d normally expect from yourself, and make sure you keep your eye on the bigger picture.
Lastly: some home-tested strategies for when you’re stuck.
Breakdown: placeholder scenes, placeholder scenes and more placeholder scenes. Okay not really, but I’m tired, just read the post.
I hope these things will help you guys! Hang in there, okay?? Only 3 days left!