I haven’t written about writing in a while, mostly because I’m sure those of you kind enough to read this blog are sick and tired of me beating the pity drum. Ugh. Even I’m tired of it. I need a freaking break.
When I’m feeling discouraged and bland, I turn to things to inspire me. I listen watch John Green videos, I listen to a podcast or two, and I read books about creativity and inspiration. I flip through Bird by Bird and On Writing on occasion. This time though, I needed something new and I needed something to help me with my particular problem.
By happenstance (re: stalking Briana Hansen’s website), I saw that she listed two books by the author Steven Pressfield, The War of Art and Do the Work as her inspirations. Now this girl seems to be always working and trying new things. I figured she knows a thing or two about this whole story telling process, so I checked out the books from the library.
Inside, there were many tokens of wisdom. I scolded myself for not buying these books so I could mark them up. There were two things that stood out for me. The first was this simple statement: “You are not the problem. The problem is the problem.”
My new BFF Steve then goes on to explain that problems are solvable. I needed to read this because part of my hang ups with attacking the problem were basic insecurities. I pretty much thought that my problems were a result of my inability to be a writer. Maybe this is a waste of my time and I am just not good enough to do it. I can play on the JV team but I’ll never make varsity. It’s depressing and it stomps all over your motivation.
So then I knew I could solve the problem. This wasn’t the end. I have the key that unlocks the solution. I don’t know the details, but I know I have the ability.
With a fraction of faith in myself restored, I began to obsess over the problem. I kept coming back to the ending. That damn ending. From the climax on, I felt like the story was plagued with problems. I wasn’t feeling this way because I was insecure, I was feeling this way because I knew there were problems.
I have a blank wall that I stare at every day in my room. With my upcoming move, there’s no reason to hang anything so I used this space as my own personal sticky-note playground to help me figure out what I needed. I’m a very visual person, so I had to see what I had so far. Then I could figure out where to go from there.
I tried to do this once before in a very detailed, extensive, and exhaustive process that I documented here on the blog. This, in hindsight, was one of those things where I had good intentions and my love for organizing took over and it became more about that process that actually trying to dissect and examine my manuscript. *scolds self*
Just keep it simple, I said. So I wrote down the three big questions I had and then went back to Sensei Pressfield. His advice was to start at the end. Oh, the dreaded end. So I used the bright yellow sticky notes and wrote what the end of the book, or the climax, was going to be. He says, “figure out where you want to go; then work backwards from there.” Then I wrote next to it (in the light purple) a simple question that to help me refine my destination.
What is this all about?
I wrote down one word (I’m not going to give it away, but all it took was one word) and then stuck it next to the question. I sat on my bed, proud of myself despite it being 1 a.m. and then I realized that I was going to have to focus all of my energy on those yellow stickies. I am going to have to write those scenes and put them together. And I’m going to have to do it as if I didn’t write 75,000 plus words before that.
For a writer, that is scary. For me, it’s downright terrifying. I have slaved over those words. I gave them to my writer’s group, my writer confidant Katherine has them now, and I hate the thought of pressing the mental backspace button, even if it’s only temporary. I feel like I’m undoing a year’s worth of work. It hurts my heart a little.
It has to be done though. If I am to do the work, I have to discard all the crap that surrounds those sticky notes and focus on writing them. It’s going to be insanely hard. I can’t have what I’ve previously written weigh me down and tie me to things I need to erase. It’s best to start with a clean slate. No one has told me this exactly, I just know it thanks to my writer’s intuition.
I would love to be one of those people who could set aside a chunk of time and just hammer it out. My life isn’t like that though. So, after careful consideration, I’ve decided to go dark on the internet until that yellow glob of stickies is all taken care of. This will be especially hard with the Superbowl on Sunday. I’m definitely going to want to read the hilarious Twitter commentary and let all my friends on Facebook know how much I love Peyton and my Broncos.
So I guess that means I have five days to get it done. No Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Instagram, Snapchat (le gasp!), Pocket, Tumblr, Goodreads, Candy Crush (!), Feedly, and Foursquare* until it’s done and done well enough that I can put the book together then. If you want to get a hold of me you’ll have to text, email, or even call me. I know, crazy. Actual phone calls.
Wish me luck.
So until the problem is solved, and for all our sakes I hope to God it’s close to solving, I’m out.
*no wonder I can’t get anything done