Monday, July 19, 2010

A Language Warning.

Not going to write a great deal here, today, chiefly because I had a particularly good writing day today, having clocked up just a touch over 4000 words since I started writing at 11.00 this morning.

So, I'm a little typed out at this point in the afternoon.

It's strange, though, because last week I had a complete shocker - at least in writing terms. Got perhaps a couple of hundred words down, in dribs and drabs, and found it almost impossible to get myself settled into the rhythm of the story, so I kept giving up and finding other things to do, and while this is good for my wider productivity, it's not good for my writing career. It's not writer's block or anything like that - I know what I'm going to write, and I know I have to write it, and I know how it's going to come out. It's just the opposite of writer's block, in fact - it's writer's procrastination.

It's not the first time this has happened to me, and it probably won't be the last, either. In part, I think it occurs due to what I generally refer to as the 'This is all shit' phenemenon.

This is something which most writers I know deal with from time to time. With me it's pretty much a constant occurance. Put simply, when I'm writing something, generally there's a large part of my mental energy taken up with telling myself how completely and utterly crap it is. At the same time as I'm plugging the words out onto my computer, there's a little bit in the back of my brain which is constantly whispering 'this is shit. this is shit. this is shit..."

Of course, it generally isn't shit. Well, not more than about 50% of the time, anyway. It's all a matter of perception and self belief.

For me, one of the biggest writing hurdles is just shutting that little voice out and keeping on writing, secure in the knowledge that it probably isn't as bad as I think it is, and that even if what I've written turns out to be unreadable, I'll probably still be able to salvage a couple of hundred words from it. After all, if you don't write anything - even rubbish - then you never get anything written.

But, sometimes, it's just too difficult to get past the feeling that you're going nowhere fast. Especially if you have a lot of other things on your plate, which is the situation I was in last week. And on those occasions, it can be a bit of a vicious spiral; the less you write, the less you want to write. It's why momentum is so important with writing.

So, anyway, this morning I took the Labour Party's election advice and just 'moved forward'* And by mid afternoon, the 'this is shit' voice had finally quietened down a little. By the time I knocked off, about fifteen minutes ago, my book had just ticked over 20,000 words, which is always a nice milestone to hit. I also made a fairly major decision regarding the narrative voice, which means I'm probably going to have to go back and do a bit of rewriting before I get a lot further, but that's all positive stuff. It means I'm re-engaging with the story.

And that's what helps keep the momentum going.

So, wish me luck for tomorrow. If you see me on twitter too often, then shoot me abusive messages.

I'll thank you for it.


*Couldn't let a post go by without some sort of a political reference. It is an election campaign at the moment, after all...


  1. I've always said that a good writer (or any kind of artist) must have a perfect balance between "I am a genius" and "this is all shit".

    Go too far one way, and you'll never listen to editors and your work will remain at mediocre first-draft level. Too far in the other direction, and you'll never have the courage to show it to anyone.

  2. Wow, so nice to see that even the big-wigs get that feeling. It's pretty much all I think, right now... :-(

  3. Oh yeah.

    My thing now is that I am trying to find more productive ways to procrastinate. Like baking. And reading. I want something for all those hours I fritter away goddammit!



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