Funk, Fatigue, and Denial

We all run up against that wall.  The excuses are endless:  I’m tired.  I can’t have one good idea.  I’m too busy.  I’m not feeling all that great.  Everybody needs something.  We had guests.  Work has been a bear.  And on and on.

I’m guilty too, not of all the above, but of enough of them to feel like a good head slap is in order.  After all, what about “Keep going!” didn’t I understand?  Didn’t I remember anything I taught?

So it finally hit me today.  I’ve been waiting for inspiration.  I’ve been waiting for that great plot focus to build around.  I’ve been waiting for War and Peace without realizing I have what I need to get on with it.  It’s odd, since I already have around twelve chapters.  Nonetheless, the doubts crept in and I stopped.  No more.  I’m pushing on no matter how lousy I think it is.  Took me long enough.

So my challenge for today is for you to share how it’s going.  Where are you stuck and what are you going strong on?  Even if all you’re writing are short pieces, are you at least collecting them in an organized way?  What’s your balancing act? 

25 responses to “Funk, Fatigue, and Denial

  1. oliviascarlett

    I’m stuck in the middle of my novel. I know how it starts, I know what will happen and how it ends but I don’t have anything interesting to fill in the middle. Does that make sense? I’m stuck.

    • My advice at this point is to get your characters into trouble. More conflict! More struggle! See what they do when you put them exactly where they don’t want to be. Good luck!

    • I thought you had a lot of interesting stuff going on, and many areas that could be expanded. How about going back to the beginning and examining how your characters got to be what they are now?

  2. To say that I’m going strong might be an exaggeration. I have just finished your BWW and I’m signed up for future classes. So maybe I’m going strong at taking classes. I have ideas; I sometimes feel inspired. But ideas and inspiration need to be introduced to discipline. I’d love to establish a writing routine that is achievable for me.

    I have several goals. The two main ones are to compile old blog posts for publication and to revisit, review, or possibly completely rewrite my original piece of creative nonfiction. I might eventually continue with the fiction piece, “Bye-Bye, Betty Nesbitt.”

    I cannot offer suggestions since I remain stuck and befuddled, but I wish you the best of luck in locating your muse again.

    Sally, aka Millaray

  3. Is that you, Millaray? Welcome. I highly recommend the book, “Free Play” by Stephen Nachmanovitch to you. He has very interesting things to say about introducing inspiration to discipline. Best book on creativity I ever found.

    Betty was a good character. You might play with her for fun and see what she does on her trip in the silver tear drop.

    • Yes, it’s “Millaray” from your class. Thanks for the book suggestion. I am coming to the States on Friday and will look for it while I’m there. I also want Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.”

      I like Betty very much. She’s psychic, you know, but she doesn’t realize it yet. Her psychic abilities will help her ditch the factory and get the silver teardrop. Then, she and her sidekick, Wanda, can have many madcap adventures.

      My advice to you? Keep writing even if you think it’s lousy. Maybe especially if you think it’s lousy. That’s what you’d tell us. “No writing is ever wasted.” Now, excuse me while I shut up and go take my own advice.

      • Welcome thornyrosedechile – Lamott’s book is great, but I am a fan of her raw writing style.

      • Thorny, I read that you are living in Chile. Beautiful country which I visited several times during my working days. In Latin America, there are two countries that I wouldn’t mind to live in: Costa Rica and Chile.
        Enjoy the wine and the sea food.

  4. Ann,
    One of many, many, many nuggets of wisdom I learned from you is to give myself permission to write poorly, but write. I think we all know when our work really is poor, but for me it helps me to admit that I at least wrote something. I have had unusual family drama that has legitimately kept me from writing but whether it is pure garbage or something worth tinkering with, I have such a passion to write. Sometimes I think if I don’t just get something down on paper, I cannot get to what I need to do for the day. Still working on my life’s story – writing bits and pieces here that each have a common thread – my best friend, my father etc. but I remain clueless as to how to organize it as a total unit. But you continue to motivate me to just write and let go of ‘poor’ or my critic (internal Evelyn). Another one of your great lessons. I truly believe that telling stories whether real or fiction, is the thread that binds humanity together and keeps us facing challenges with hope and courage. Sorry I just realized I was rambling. Thank you Ann for all your lessons – I know you have such an amazing story to finish – give yourself permission to write poorly! Wise words from a wise writer.

  5. Ann, I don’t mean any disrespect but, in my case, I have to take your first question as a joke.
    -“Where am I stuck?
    I’m stuck immediately after I write the first word of my story, from there on it’s a constant struggle until the end, not as much with the story which I have it in my head, but with the grammar, with the verbs, with the construction, with the spelling, with the vocabulary…
    I write short stories because when I finish I‘m “brain exhausted”, hence it doesn’t enter my mind to engage in writing a long one.
    Do you know how many times I have to change want I really want to write on a particular story into something else, simple because I don’t know or I’m not sure how to write it?
    And then, the final insult, is to see mistakes after I post my story.
    (I read once that you don’t like the word “oddly”, so excuse me for using it now) Oddly enough and regardless of my difficulties in writing I like the challenge and I’ll continue to write as long as you and/or other members of this sensational club full of good writers and thinkers don’t kick out.
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express and explain directly to you, my uphill battle with the English language.

    • Lando, your “battle with the English language” is part of your charm. The way you write is very special, my friend. Embrace it.

    • I agree it is part of your charm, but more importantly for me it is your voice. No one has your voice and that is a special gift. I understand the struggle, but try also to see your uniqueness and keep writing.

  6. I have a bunch of old bits of stories that I’ve written over the years. They’re now in a file on my desktop called “Writing.” If I have no inspiration, I go there and fool around with one of them. Every once in a while a finished story happens. I actually posted one this afternoon on the Writing Festival of this blog. It’s goofy, but it expands my horizons.

    I also have a head full of memories, and some of them will become stories. Until they do, I open a Word document, type in the title of the memory, and save it in my Writing file. When the time is right, they’re right there, ready to go.

    When I get stuck, it’s frequently because of lack of feedback. It doesn’t matter whether it’s positive or negative, I just seem to need that feedback in order to keep writing.

    I just submitted a piece, hoping it will be published. It’s my first one, sorta like having a baby! I think I went through a whole box of paper with all the revisions.

    • Meegiemom,
      Congratulations on the birth of your labor. Sure hope you get a publication notice. I can identify with the need for feedback. I too get a charge to keep working when feedback happens regardless of positive or negative.

  7. I guess I’m just lazy. I have several chapters written for a novel using fictitious and real characters in the Klondike Gold Rush. I wrote them long ago enough that when I reread them., I REALLY want to read more. I have a general outline of the action, the protagonist’s fault and triumph, the theme, the villain’s motives. I have the great, unexpected twist at the end. What I don’t have is the long-range oomph to finish the darn thing. Maybe if I stay home this winter instead of galloping off to far reaches of the world, I’ll find the will to write.

    • When you do finish it Gullible, can we read it? Or at least can we read continuing installments?

    • Writing in short spurts is a good thing when you’re not inspired to do more. You never know where those sprints are going to take you.

      • Well, this is the type of book (I hope it will be a book) that will have (I hope) lots of action, and in order to maintain that pace, I think it will have to written without years-long interruptions. I haven’t written any chapters in a few years. I still think it’s a good read so far, though. Plus, it’s the ONLY fiction plot I’ve been able to devise.

  8. I have the great motivation of landing another blogging job for another Local News Paper. The circulation is three times that of my other gig and that is proving to be a stumbling block. I was approached to join this paper instead of me pursuing them, so now I feel pressure to impress them. My biggest misconception is that I need to change my story style, even though they hired me because they want my story style. Second guessing every idea has taken up too much productive time….I just need to kick my ass in gear and write the way that I naturally do. I’ve been given the liberty to write whatever I want….too much freedom is intimidating.
    Two weeks ago I had another heart attack on top of a case of shingles and pneumonia. The trifecta of illness. I am going to attempt to share my views on Hospital Roommate Etiquette. I believe this topic deserves some airing as I seem to always be coupled up with the the biggest whiner who, naturally
    has the “Worst Case” of whatever that the medical profession has ever seen. My roomies are artful at catastrophizing, groaning in pain and wanting to discuss the most intimate details of their body functions with me. I get especially annoyed when they want to be friendly and bond with me. When I am sick, just leave me alone. My hospital room is not meant to be the site of the social event of the year….and if you visit….keep it short and please don;t ask me to recite A litany of every vitals check and bowel movement.
    I will let you know when I have managed to turn the above rant into something entertaining and blog worthy….but for now, I feel a nap coming on.

  9. Hospital roommate etiquette. Yes, that sounds like a fun read. Do it, Peanut. Maybe you can publish it in Reader’s Digest, “13 Things Your Hospital Roommate Won’t Tell You.” (Until she’s good and pissed off!)

  10. Gullible is right, get into Reader’s Digest and make a few dollars out of that miserable history. Have a go at the roommate’s visitor who feels compelled to include you in their conversations – I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve been guilty of that one. Hope all those health problems are behind you Peanut oxo

  11. Too bad Readers Digest doesn’t accept unpublished writers..or so I heard somewhere.

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