When I was a wee little newbie, firmly ensconced in my blissfully ignorant phase of writing, the world was shiny and bright, full of possibilities and dreams. Fairytales and unicorns. Ideas would literally fly from my fertile mind, stimulate my fingertips, and words magically (or so it seemed to me at the time) appeared on the page in bountiful plentitude. Writing was Fun with a capital F.
Were any of the words good? Some. Actually, a surprising amount of them were worth keeping, but even back then I knew that I wanted and needed to hone my craft. So I did. Books, classes, contests. I ran the gambit. I learned about POV, head hopping, mythic code of story – blah, blah, blah. And my writing got better, tighter, more three dimensional.
But I lost something as well. I lost the fun. In trying to incorporate all my newfound writing knowledge, I became methodical and purposeful, not altogether bad things, in and of themselves. But when you take methodical and purposeful and run them up against creativity . . . well, talk about your buzz kill.
So my solution to this teeny tiny little dilemma was to try and recapture the feelings I had way back then when I was that wee little newbie. *Sigh* When you write it out, the notion of trying to recapture the past sounds so utterly ludicrous as to be laughable. I mean really. You could liken that to trying to recapture the flush of first love. We can write about it (and we do), but to actually recapture it – not happening. Not even a remotely realistic goal.
So what’s a bogged down writer to do? As Romance writers, let’s look at real-life romance for some clues. What happens to a relationship once it moves out of the passionate, heart-fluttering getting to know one another phase? In our books, and hopefully in real life, it morphs into a deeper, far more meaningful phase. Shared history, learned experiences, and a greater understanding between two people.
And, the tendency to take one another for granted, for the relationship to become stagnant and for life in general to fall into a deeply grooved rut. Wow, now there’s some motivation for you. It kinda makes you never want to learn craft and to remain forever in the blissfully ignorant stage. A notion as equally stupid as trying to recapture the past.
So again I ask, what’s a bogged down writer to do? Like the stagnant relationship, writing that has fallen into the trap of being overworked, overanalyzed, and rewritten ad nauseam until it’s hardly recognizable as the story you started out with needs a shot in the arm. A boost. A Spark.
Groovy. But if you cannot go back to your blissfully ignorant phase, where does one acquire this shot in the arm, this boost, this proverbial spark that puts the fun back into writing? If you are a regular reader of the WoC (Write or Consequences) blog, then you’d already have some pretty good ideas.
For your convenience, here’s four ideas that might help.
- Write drunk – No, not literally. Figuratively. An expression I heard in a class given by Sam Havens, Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas, whereby he meant to forget the rules and write by the seat of your pants (yes, even if you are a plotter). Oh, sure it’s okay to know where you’re going before you start (I know you plotters out there just broke out in a cold sweat), but once you are at the keyboard, let your hair down and go for it.
- For those of you who balk, saying, writing drunk is easier said than done, have no fear. There are tools to help you. If you’re low tech, try a pad and paper. No, seriously. Post-It notes, storyboarding, index cards. Whatever works.
- For those of you who can handle a bit more technology, try an Alpha Smart – a word processing tool with no internet and a four line only display screen. Really hard to go back and fix things, so it encourages forward progression.
- If you’re ready for a hard core challenge, consider the most dangerous app in the world – Flowstate. The only way to secure your work is by continuing to move until your session is complete. Once you begin a flow, you cannot stop. If you exit early, or stop typing for longer than five seconds all progress is erased. So their website touts. Give that puppy a try. I double dog dare you.
The point of all this is to put your inner editor in chains, in a dark prison cell. To basically unlearn all the craft you’ve spent years learning. Not permanently, mind you. Just for a while. Some of the best writing I’ve done is when I take my mind out of the process and let my instincts and my heart have free rein. For romance writers, that should be a snap.
Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.
Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.
Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.