Michaeline: Getting to the Magic of Writing

Escape the things that are dragging you down, and get back into the magic of writing!

Escape the things that are dragging you down, and get back into the magic of writing! Via Wikimedia Commons, Benvenuti

I talked about positive triggers last week. I generally find that once I sit down to write, I can write something. But I’ve fallen off the writing horse more than a few times, so sometimes just getting into the saddle and putting my fingers to the keyboard can be a huge struggle. Creating a time slot, and having alternatives can be essential to creating a daily habit of writing.

First, let me get the negative out of the way. Know what your time-wasting triggers are. For me, if I check the mail, I’m out of the writing mode unless I can somehow majorly re-set my day (for example, I could take a nap, or change my venue). I have found that I can read – and it’s especially helpful if I’m reading materials that are tangential to what I’m writing. Too close, and I pick up another writer’s voice. Too far, and I start pursuing other thought-bunnies. But email? No matter how many times I tell myself I’m going to write “later,” it doesn’t seem to happen. And I often tell myself that I’m just “warming up” my fingers, which is a great theory but never works out in practice. For me, email has to be the reward for putting in a good writing session or two, not the prelude.

Email gets me because it’s a quick reward and leads me down the path of other quick rewards (checking the blog, checking someone else’s blog, checking to see if Dear Abby has anything pertinent to my life or my novel . . .). The thing is, writing is a reward, too – but it does take a short lag time to get into the flow, to get into the reward zone. And the five or fifteen minutes of misery that precedes The Flow can be really tough to overcome.

This video has some hints for winning free from the instant gratification of other things to get to the big prize of seeing a really good sentence or a super scene come together. Do it now, set deadlines that make you see the sense of doing it now, enjoy the process, make a list of reasons why you want to do this, and make sure your motivation is there.

And, oh yeah, remove the temptations.

Another little trick that sometimes helps me is remembering that if I really have time to do an hour of emailing, and an hour of writing, it doesn’t matter which way I do it. I’ve scheduled a place for both, so do the writing first. It’ll lead to longer term satisfaction.

The big thing is to just do it. Do it first. Do it now.

8 thoughts on “Michaeline: Getting to the Magic of Writing

  1. Getting into the mindset of “writing is a reward” is something that continues to elude me. It may be because there are goals and deadlines linked to writing so it feels like work, not like fun. It’s something I’m working on, but I haven’t quite figured out how to resolve.

    Your “do it first” is good advice. Otherwise it’s too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of time-sucks.

    • I do like writing, very much. Meeting new characters, having a really good phrase of two or three words pop out onto the keyboards — I love that. But as you say, Elizabeth, there’s so much work involved that’s not much fun.

      Like a whole string of crappy junk coming out that doesn’t express what I want to say. Or making that pretty baby phrase of words fit into the narrative. I am finding track changes to be a useful tool for dealing with that. I can “play” in the track changes — info dump and do all the “bad” things that writers aren’t supposed to do. And that helps me write something closer to good on the “real” page. I think a lot of olde timey writers used napkins and tablecloths and little scraps of papers to work out the “sandbox” issues. I can put the crappy junk in the margins, and save the pretty babies in the margins until I’m ready to use them.

  2. Do it first: exactly, Michaeline – that’s the only model that works for me. I must say, I’m impressed that you only have fifteen minutes of struggle before you get into the reward zone – occasionally that might be true for me, but more often it can be hours or even days before I hit the sweet spot.

    • (-: I may not be exactly honest with myself. But when I can actually get myself to the point of opening the manuscript, it usually doesn’t take long before I get rewards. Not always *usable* rewards, but some sort of reward. Backlog of ideas, maybe? If I wrote everyday, my well might be drier? (Oh, that’s a dangerous, justifying sort of road to go down. The goal for October is to write every day. I’ll keep track of what happens.)

      One thing I really hate is being in the flow, and having to stop. Irritates the hell out of me, and so a lot of my excuses for not starting are: “Oh, I don’t really have enough time for this. I’ve only got 20 minutes.”

      All of these comments are definitely food for thought.

    • LOL! 1. Butts in the chair. 2. Open up the document. 3. Running start by reviewing the last 500 words if necessary. 4. Write the first sentence of the day. 5. Write the next sentence of the day. 6. Repeat 5 as necessary.

  3. For me, the time sink is Tumblr or other social media. I also have a tendency to throw myself into housework whenever the novel or short story is being tricky. It’s like, “oh, this word puzzle is very irritating…but if I vacuum then all my troubles are sucked away…” which of course isn’t true because you can’t untangle your plot issues with a feather duster and can of pledge.

    Very good article on the Art of Sticking One’s Bum in Chair.

    • Thanks! I sometimes wonder if procrastination is a result of the Girls not being ready to take the direction that the Ego is presenting. That said, sometimes things must be written.

      (-: It’s always nice to have a vacuumed floor. I wish my procrastination took productive side trips!

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