Category Archives: Writer’s Block

The Sirens of Distraction

The Muse- Gabriel de Cool

The Muse by Gabriel de Cool. She looks more like a siren of distraction than a hard working muse to me. He isn’t writing!

This happens to me quite frequently (it doesn’t help that my desk is in the corner of my kitchen/dining room). I will sit down to write and suddenly the home phone will ring (also on my desk), or my mobile phone pings with a text, my cat decides he wants to play, one of my family sits down for a chat with me, or the grittiness of the floor reminds me I need to do some housework as we have visitors coming over on the weekend. A couple of hours later, I still haven’t started in on any writing project…

Look at me! LOOK AT ME!

Oh the irony. In the original mythology, the sirens were the daughters of Muses, either Terpsichore – the Muse of Dancing or Melpomene – the Muse of both Singing and Tragedy. I’m putting my vote in for Melpomene being their mum, as anything that keeps me away from my writing is something of a tragedy. (Okay, I’m being a drama queen.) But the Sirens of Distraction are a real problem for writers, particularly if you are like me and you don’t have a ‘room of your own’.

The Siren, by John William Waterhouse. That girl doesn’t care if you’re drowning in projects.

My family is moving soon, and I hope to partially solve my problem by having a more private workspace. However, this isn’t a solution that everyone can afford. So, here are some of the strategies I have been using to slay the sirens of distraction.

1/ Earphones

You can be listening to music … or not. I find music helpful to set the atmosphere of a scene, but half the time the earphones are worn simply to signal that I am busy. They act as a barrier between me and the household.

2/ Setting a timetable

Make it perfectly clear to one and all that this is your writing time. Have a set time of the day to write … the housework can wait until later. Better yet, get your family to help you with the cleaning and have a ‘cleaning hour’ where everyone gets together to share tasks.

3/ Set priorities

Sometimes, the housework just has to get done (I like clean underwear, particularly in summer). Most of the time, though, housework can wait. It isn’t going anywhere. Write for a couple of hours and the dust won’t have gone away. Dust the house when your imagination is on fire, and you might lose that flash of inspiration forever. And if friends pop by, they came to see you and not the house.

Waterhouse again. He knew about sirens.

I hope this helps someone. I am currently looking for a new home and will be moving soon. This is when the sirens of distraction become the levitation of life, and posts may become few and far between for a couple of weeks.

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Filed under Steampunk Writer, the Muse, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, writing

Your Mood and how it might affect your writing

“Mood mostly reflects how outcomes differ from expectations, so whether things are going better or worse than what’s expected,” said Dr Eldar from the University College London.

“Mood also affects how we perceive outcomes, so if we’re in a good mood, outcomes seem better than when we’re in a bad mood.”

ninja hugs

Ninja Hugs

I really can’t add anything to this excellent quote.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writer's Block, writing, Writing Style

Strip Tease – flensing the story back to the bones

Dinosaur Bones

Rawr! The perfect image for my frustration.

This is one of my personal techniques in my toolbox to fight both writer’s block or being overwhelmed with so much to do that I don’t know where to start. The Strip Tease – taking the story back to the basics and asking the fundamental questions: Is this story a quest? What is the epiphany for the protagonist? What is the conflict? Does the style suit the story? What is the skeleton of this story?

What is essential?!

Leaf Skeletons

Stripping away the details gives me focus; an opportunity to breathe and reflect; and a chance to reassess the narrative and what I wanted to achieve. After all, it is the story that is most important, and everything else is just ornamentation. Six hundred writers might write the same story, and each would tell it a different way. What is the best way for my voice?

Even bare bone can be beautiful, like a sculpture.

I am currently struggling with NaNoWriMo, because I have too many options and I’m like a child in a toy shop and asked to pick just one toy. I need to get back to the bones, and start again.

 

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Filed under Editing, Personal experience, Story, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, writing

Burning Down the House

I am in the last gasp of National Novel Writing Month. I am struggling, even though I had a good plan/plot in place. I don’t think I’m going to make it…

I am tempted to have a ‘Burning Down the House’ moment, where I kill everybody off and start again.

Too much pressure. Too many ideas. I’m finding it difficult to focus on just one thing. It is too hot and humid to think in the afternoons. I want to be editing my other two WiPs. I’m too easily distracted.

The Opposite of Writer’s Block is the ‘Burning Down the House’ moment.

So, what to do? Sometimes, a house just has to burn itself out.

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, writing, Writing Career

The Un-Muse

you_should_be_writing Doctor Matt 03

I imagine you have all suffered from this. You are drifting off the sleep, and every bone in your body has turned to jelly. Just as you about to sink under the waves of the ocean of dreams, an excellent idea suddenly pops into your brain. But you are so comfortable! If you get up to write down the idea, you will disturb your spouse/partner/cat. And it is such a good idea, surely you won’t – simply CAN’T – forget it. The ocean of dreams closes above your head.

The next morning, you can remember you had an idea just as you were falling asleep. However, that is the only fact you can remember, even when racking your brain. As the day progresses, you have a lingering feeling of frustration and regret. You can only hope that the idea will reoccur to you (after all, you’ve come up with it once before).

It’s time for bed again. You put pen and paper beside the bed, ready for the possibility of another flash on inspiration as you dive into sleep. An idea does occur to you, but the mattress is so comfortable and your limbs are as heavy as lead…

The Anti-Muse has struck again.

If you are like me, you are haunted by the possibilities lost when these ideas are forgotten. And yet – night after night after night – knowing I need to write down this idea or risk losing it forever – I can’t stir my limbs even to write down two words to jog my memory the next morning. Why? Why?

The Anti-Muse is the evil twin of the voice that delivers me a great idea when I need it. It is a tease and a trial, because I often wonder if those ideas were as great as I seem to believe. Am I deluding myself? Surely, if the ideas were really that good, I would remember them.

So, what would you do in my shoes?

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Filed under Personal experience, Writer's Block, Writing Style

One of ‘those’ days…. a Steampunk Perspective

Owl in a towel

I need Epsom salts for my brain. I’ve been wrestling with cutting the first three chapters of my Steampunk Work-in-Progress, and I am feeling overwhelmed at this moment in time.

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Filed under Personal experience, Steampunk Work-in-Progress, Writer's Block