To Write or Not to Write…


 

What kind of atmosphere inspires you to be at your best?
 

Do you work well under pressure, or does your creativity run in good measure?

Does your muse fancy daylight or does it prefer the first stroke of midnight?
 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re all different. That means every single one of us is truly unique and extraordinary. Which is an amazing thing, right? Could you imagine living in a world where all of us were identical?
 

Life would truly be boring.
 

Because of our differences, something that works for one person, may not work for another. Yet, it helps to know that we all suffer from the same malady, even though this isn’t a one size fits all kind of gig, which in some ways might make us feel like we’re losing our minds.
 

So what’s the answer?
 

Keep writing, no matter what the mood or environment!
 

I think it’s in our nature to get side tracked from time to time. It happens to the best of us. We all have different obstacles thrown in our direction that divert our attention. But here’s what James Scott Bell says in his book “Plot and Structure”:
 

“If you want to break through with this thing called craft, you’ll need to be your own disciplinarian.”
 

Uh-oh. Does this mean I need to limit how much time I spend on Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn and Goodreads and WanaTribe? 🙂
 

Ah, what can I say? It’s an oldie but goodie, but it doesn’t matter how many times I peruse its pages, I’m reminded of something that inspires me. It just proves that no matter how long we’ve been writing, sometimes we just need to get back to the basics.
 
 

Here’s a few of Mr. Bell’s simple reminders that I love:
 

1- Get Motivated: “Today I resolve to take writing seriously, to keep going and never stop, to learn everything I can and make it as a writer.”

Yes!
 

2- Try Stuff: “I’m digesting the material as deeply as I possibly can. I want it to be a part of me. I want it there when I write my next novel.”

Okay, got it!
 

3- Stay loose: “Writing is never any good when it is done in the grip of anxiety. A tense brain freezes creativity.”

Aha! This would explain why I’ve been in such a deep freeze! But the good news is, I’m thawing out!
 

4- First get it written, then get it right: Ray Bradbury said, “Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”

Dang that perfectionism!
 

5- Set a quota: “Most successful fiction writers make a word goal and stick to it. Sure you were at your writing desk for three hours, but what did you produce?”

Ouch!
 

6- Don’t give up: “The main difference between successful writers and unsuccessful writers is persistence. Keep writing.”

Nope, not giving up!
 

So what kind of atmosphere inspires me to be at my best?
 

Well, I find that I write at my best when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Sleep and a good dose of protein and exercise stimulates my brainpower, along with a designated space to write with no interruptions! Is that really too much to ask? 🙂
 
 

Now what about you? Do you ever get discouraged or distracted? Is there a specific writer, mentor or teacher of craft that has inspired you? What are some of your suggestions and what inspires you to be at your best and to keep on writing?
 
 
Thank you so much for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!
Karen

 
 

39 thoughts on “To Write or Not to Write…

  1. Suzanne Stengl

    First Thing In The Morning. I need to roll out of bed, turn on the computer and just do it. Sure would be nice if tea was supplied! But even the act of making a cup of tea distracts me. So I just start.

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Suzanne! You are not alone. I think you’re in good company since most writers I know go at the writing as soom as they roll out of bed. Yes, tea would be nice. You inspire me with your enthusiasm! Thank you for sharing your routine. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kristy K. James

    I have been so burned out the past couple of months that writing has been more a punishment than a joy, but I’m taking a few days…maybe even a week…to catch up on a whole lot of missed sleep (naps are my friend, naps are my friend… 🙂 ).

    I had to laugh when I read your second sentence…about working under pressure. I’ve actually talked about that to a couple of people this week. I like to say I work best under pressure…which is why I keep backing myself into corners with no way out but to follow through…or look like a failure. But I know that it’s not that I work best…I just work in a stressed out state because I haven’t managed my time well enough. I’m trying to break that habit.

    What inspires me to keep writing? Just the fact that it’s what I do. Good or bad (pretty much somewhere in between), it’s just what I do, and what I’ve done since I was a kid. Not writing, which I didn’t do for a couple of years after an accident, was like something sucked a big part of my life away. I won’t say it’s as much a part of me as breathing, but it’s very high on the list of thing I need to make me feel ‘right.’

    Great article! Think I need to bookmark it. 🙂
    Kristy K. James recently posted..Valentine’s Day, Book Release, & An InterviewMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Kristy! You too? I’ve been totally burned out. And not sleeping either. It’s horrible. Could someone just come and hit me on the head? Yes, naps are a must. Thank you so much for leaving a comment. You’ve inspired me Kristy. I haven’t written for very long, so I so appreciate your feelings about what keeps your on course with your writing. And as you know I’ve had plenty of stress because of hubby’s accident, so it’s really sucked my creativity out of me. I’m hopeful that changes soon. Thanks girl for the compliment. I’m trying, that’s all I can do, right? 🙂

      Reply
  3. Debra Kristi

    #4 and #6 are where I’m at right now. But all these points are so true. And I couldn’t agree with Colin more. You can’t fix what hasn’t been written, so write! I’ve been setting goals with my critique group lately and that’s been wonderful. It helps keep me accountable. I may fall short, but it makes me work harder to meet them knowing I need to report to an outside source at the end of the day.

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Debra! That’s a wonderful opportunity having a critique group to keep you accountable. I don’t belong to one, so I’m it as far as keeping myself on track. Most times it works, but lately, I’ve had trouble. Of course taking care of hubby hasn’t helped either, but he’s on the mend, so that should ease up soon. And I know you’ve had a lot on your plate too with family obligations. But congrats on all your progress Debra! Keep up the great work! Now where on earth is Thor? 🙂

      Reply
  4. Bob Skelley

    These are great reminders and tips. I love to write but I never am able to write as often as I like as life gets busy. Time management comes into play quite a bit and I find self-imposed deadlines work well for me when I have a window of a couple hours give or take. Thanks for a very neat piece and hope you’ll stop by my place and avail yourself of the chill atmosphere soon. 🙂
    Bob Skelley recently posted..End your rut with ordered livingMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Bob! It’s nice to meet you and thank you for dropping by my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed the reminders and tips. We all need them, including myself. As with most writers, life does have a tendency to get away from us. But it sounds like you’re a self-disciplinarian . So keep squeezing out that special time to write Bob. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Pat, I am going to blow up my WordPress site! This is the second week in a row that I’ve found you in spam. What’s up? Like it doesn’t recognize you? You’re faithfully here week after week. I don’t know…I’m getting paranoid now and on most days you can find me rummaging through the spam pages. Yep, that’s my life now. Ah, fun. Anyhoo, I would love that info about the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. It’s a loop? As in active discussions? I could just hug you Pat. Too bad you’re so far away. Okay, I’ll have to send you one. {{Hug}} There, that’s better! Thank you so much Pat! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Lynette M Burrows

    Great post, Karen. I have never quit writing. My production has slowed to inch worm speed at times, but continue to make some forward progress. I revised my priorities this past year. I am now keeping a diary of my progress – it’s helping move me forward. But I like Kim Terry’s comment so I’m adapting it and using it. I am a writer who does nursing to pay the bills. GOT MY GAME FACE ON!
    Lynette M Burrows recently posted..Valentine’s Day: Procrastinator’s DelightMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Lynette! How are you and hubby? You are an inspiration Lynette! “I have never quit writing.” Love that. And don’t I know about slow production. I identify with inch worm speed, although you know how much I love top fuel. LOL! I like your idea of keeping a diary for your progress. That’s something that I’d like to implement. Good to know you’ve got your GAME FACE on! You go Girl! Thanks! {{Hugs!}} 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Jennette! See, you are totally rockin’ the ROW girl! I think I failed ROW80. LOL! I got tired of not meeting my goals. There was just too much going on. Yeah, I’m a drop out. But thanks for the tip about Holly Lisle. I’ve heard her name brought up before. I’m gonna have to check her out after your high recommendation. That is so super cool of you Jen. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m not alone. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Patricia

    I write best when I have lots of uninterrupted hours in a row. I have a hectic 8-8 Mon-Fri and weekends I try to spend with family and the washing machine. But, I do set aside at least 2 whole days a month, quite often more, but at the least 2, for writing. I literally sit and write for hours at a time. My best day was 20 pages in one day. I have a hard time writing for an hour here and an hour there.

    I also like it quiet, warm and usually sweet-smelling. I burn scented oil or incense or use one of those wax burners. Fragrance for some reason inspires me.

    All very good reminders though. We do what we have to do get the job done.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..Nesting Rituals of the Modern American WomanMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Patricia! Wow, you do have a hectic schedule. LOL, on spending time with the washer girl. THAT, is never ending. Something tells me we won’t get fired from that job. So it’s crunch time with the writing if you’re pumping out 20 pages in a day. The keyboards are hot and smoking! But what a high to have your creativity on fire like that Patricia. Yes, we do what we have to do alright. Thank you for sharing your experience. You’ve totally encouraged me, which is what I was hoping this post would do. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      That’s a bummer about the snow. Aren’t you guys behind? And thank you so much for the heads-up Susie! You do throw the best blog parties! I’ll be there. You can count on it. And I’ll bring my skis just in case! 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Prudence! You must be snowed in girl. You guys on the upper east coast have been dumped on. Although I’m sure it’s truly beautiful. Hope you’re staying warm. And yes, the darn internet. But I think that because we are alone in our writing caves for the mostpart, we enjoy a little socializing, yes? “Motivate, motivate, dance to the music…” Love it Pru! Okay, I’m dancing! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Julie Glover

    I have tried to figure out what the best time of day/background is for writing. It varies a bit. I do mostly need silence and to know that some of my daily to-do’s are already crossed off. Then I can concentrate on the story. Love the inspiration here!
    Julie Glover recently posted..If the Brownings TweetedMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Julie! I completely understand where you’re coming from. My writing time varies also. And I too feel like I can concentrate better when I have some of my other responsiblities crossed off. What is it about that? I guess it frees our creative mind to spring into action without interruption. So glad you enjoyed the post. Well, I always feel that you cannot go wrong with Mr. Bell’s suggestions, if you know what I mean? And thank you Julie for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Colin Falconer

    Karen, my first bit of advice was: ‘Sit down at your desk at 9 every morning and wait for inspiration. If it’s not there by five past, start without it.’ I think it still holds true. Michener said he was a lousy writer but he was a great re-writer. You can’t revise anything that’s not there!

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Colin! Or should I say hola? Thank you so much Colin for your input! Oh, I love this, “You can’t revise anthing that’s not there!” and “If it’s not there by five past, start without it.” That is awesome advice. See, I’m so glad I wrote this post. I needed to hear this today. Thanks my friend! 🙂

      Reply
    2. Kristy K. James

      I LOVE that advice! I finally, for the first time in my life, wrote a ‘vomit’ draft for the NaNoWriMo challenge in November. It was hard to do, but I got a complete first draft in 12 days (NEVER want to do 50k words that fast again though!). Learning to write even without inspiration is probably the best thing any of us can do. 🙂
      Kristy K. James recently posted..Valentine’s Day, Book Release, & An InterviewMy Profile

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      HI Kim! I love your new GAME-FACE girl! Morphed? lol. What a way to turn it around! I love your attitude Kim. We can do this gig, I just know it. And encouragement from our writer friends is what keeps us going. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I wish you the best with Act ll! 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      You are amazing Coleen! Can you be my mentor? Seriously, I am in awe. You are always so positive. I like your attitude! #4 is essential. But not as easy for some than for others. It’s that perfectionism Coleen. I battle with that one. So I am counting on you to give me a swift kick in the butt from time to time. Come check on me, I need it! And I will view it as a sign of your friendship! Thanks Coleen! 🙂

      Reply
  9. CC MacKenzie

    My copy of of James Scott Bell’s ‘Plot & Structure’ is dog-eared and filled with sticky notes and highlighted parts.

    He’s absolutely right. The biggest distraction for me is the internet and my inbox. When I write BEFORE I go online I get a lot more done, so it’s all about discipline. However, when I’m on a roll not even the internet distracts me. Talking of which …..

    Great post, Karen.
    CC MacKenzie recently posted..HAPPY PROCREATION DAY AKA – VALENTINES DAYMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      HI Christine, aka my twin! lol. True story. I first downloaded Plot and Structure on the Kindle. No, not happening. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But in this instance, an ebook doesn’t cut it. So I immediately went out and bought a paper version because I love to dog-ear and highlight for later reference. I spent double the money. How smart am I? lol. But I absolutely agree. Discipline is the key. And that would be why you haven’t seen me as much because I am hot in pursuit of writing as my frozen creativity has thawed out! Yay!!!! Now about procreating… 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi August! How are you doing? And how is the publishing business treating you as a new writer? Are you happy with the results thus far? I hope things are going well. And thank you. I too find that life inspires me to write. I love being immersed in a story. There’s nothing quite like it. Well, and friends like you! Right back atcha girlfriend! *wink* 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Hi Diane! I was thinking the other day that it’s been a year since your release party for “Don’t Know Jack.” Can you believe it? We need to do another release party together. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing that great advice. That was exactly what I was hoping for as a new writer and as always, you deliver Diane! And I’ll take it whether I feel like it or not! LOL! That’s so awesome. Thanks Diane! 🙂

      Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      HI Susie! Great to see you! How’s the snow conditions? Have you done any skiing lately? I so miss it. Yes, setting goals can help. I find that I have a terrible habit of setting my goals too high. Then I get defeated. So having people ask when your book will be finished sound like a great motivator. Speaking of, yes, get back to work! LOL! I should talk! Thanks Susie and happy writing! 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Patricia Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Click to "Follow Me" and receive new posts by email