Sunday, 29 November 2009

On The Road to Writing Recovery

I am a recovering binger. Not an alcoholic one or a drug one, maybe a chocolate one, but definitely a writing one.
In the old days (I am talking about most of my writing time until last year) I would spend one day doing nothing but write. Whole stories, whole plots planned. Go, go,go. I would write until my hand hurt, typed until the words started to blur, ripping out pages until most of the notebook was in a pile on the floor. Then nothing for the better part of a week. I might do a light edit but other than that it was a recovery until the next time. Then another outburst.
Things could not go on like that. I had two failed attempts at writing a novel, several stories half finished, jam packed with cliches and one dimensional characters. I was spending more time having writing fatigue.  I finally found my self blocked, unable to think, unmotivated.
Now I try and sit down at least five evenings each week, maybe a few hours during the weekend and I will write. Smaller chunks than before, bigger chunks if I have a story desperate to be told. My writing has more of a routine. Motivation, determination are my friends. I am fighting any writing block with a punch. Sometimes I need a rest and I take them, promising myself to be back at the desk tomorrow or at least making jottings in the notebook.
I have had the most productive writing year, ever.


Katherine said...

That block - I know that block well. You know, since I've left Uni, I've barely written anything? I had a year where I just relaxed, promised myself that I needed it; had a part time job and just enjoyed the freedom of no pressure. Then I got a job, a 7.30-5 job that now devours all my time. Socializing takes up all my alternative time - I find it hard to be on my own, need people to surround me. But it's counter productive, because I can't write around people.
So I took a week off, away from anyone I knew, away from anything I knew. Bought a netbook, promised myself I'd sit and write in the sun, on the beach, in a coffee shop. For 5 days I was away. I spent one of those days writing. A story I had no premise to, a story I'd not even started, no ideas about - something flowed from me and for a moment I thought, it's back, my magic words, they're here - but then I had to come back. I missed humanity. I couldn't stand the loneliness; and my holiday was over.
I came back, and it hasn't been touched. I re-read it the other day and thought, where was I going with this? The same way I had another started idea, that I've nothing on. I completely despise my vampire novel (that I loved so fervently when I created it; each character so descriptive and dangerous and dark...) and feel like I've spent so long of my life faking what I should be.
Part of it, for me, might be the lack of enthusiasm I'm having for life at present - but I think part of it is general inability to create. I wonder where my need to write has disappeared to - I feel like all along I managed to just skate through on something that wasn't even mine. I always wonder how the people from Uni are doing now, and I think, they're all doing it - the life you allegedly wanted; why aren't you? But it's because I just don't think I can, don't think I can write anymore. It's horrifying to me, because without my writing, I suddenly have... nothing. Some part of me still longs for it, knows I want to write. So maybe I should do as you do? Sit down after work, a few hours at the weekend and just... write. Use the book my friend bought me (The Writers Block - a great block of spark words and ideas) and just... get on with it. But I wonder - will it be like riding a bike, will I just get back into the groove? Or will it be like a dancer who damages her leg; have I lost that creativity forever now I've let it go for so long?
Haha, such a long comment for your journal! Especially after you've not heard from me for so long, but I think your entry just triggered something in me, some kind of "this could be the answer"; I just had to comment :)
I always wonder, did you ever finish your Uni-novel? I enjoyed reading it - both yours and Ceris are the ones I recall the most (Except PJ's...*cough* I can't forget that...)

Ray said...

It's nice to hear there's been so much productivity this year. 2009 has been the year I have written more poetry than ever before. I wonder why that has been? Has it finally been enough time since that uni course?! Good work Patient :)

Valerie O'Riordan said...

Sounds like you've found a great methodology - congratulations!

PS: I've nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award!

Jessica said...

Hi Kat, wow the longest comment ever! I loved your vampire novel - you should really start writing it again :) My novel went a bit pear shaped too. I keep saying I will do it but then put it off for something else! I actually heard from PJ the other year and he said an Agent was reading it. I actually find having this blog has motivated me too.

Hi Ray, Yeap - I think enough time has pass for the course to wash through our bodies and be free from some of those 'writing' exercises!

Hi Valerie - Thank you for the award. I was in bed most of the day yesterday with a migraine and it cheered me up! I shall dedicate a post to it later this week :)

Nik Perring said...

It's brilliant to her you've found a system that works for you. Hurrah for that!

And here's to an even more productive 2010!

Jessica said...

Hi Nik,

I'll raise a glass to that too :)

Ray said...

I don't think I /could/ go back to that DTN novel. I sent it off to PFD who said it would work better as a screenplay which is far too big a project for me to contemplate while I'm working full time! (ie. I'll never get round to facing that). I don't have great memories of that course so the thought of facing it all again makes me shudder!