December is wonderful. It is a magical time of year where Prague lights up in sparkles and the scent of hot wine and pastries fill the air of every wide street and marketplace around. Everywhere there are stands offering gingerbread, home-made tree decorations, metal-works, woven baskets, wood-carved toys…. I love it. Despite all the holiday shopping and the ridiculous crowds, you would think finding inspiration and motivation to write during this magical season would be the easiest thing in the world. Right?
Let me be honest with you here for a second. Since NaNoWriMo, I have not yet gone back to writing my usual thousand words per day. In fact, I’m not comfortable saying I’ve written anything so far in December. That frightens me. If I lose momentum, getting back into it is going to be so hard, and I loved writing a thousand words per day. It gave me energy, made me feel like I was accomplishing something every day. I want to start doing it again as soon as humanly possible, but it’s difficult to take that first step. Hopefully writing this post is a step in the right direction.
I’ve been having some trouble getting back into Spiralling after spending a month with a Perrinne Legacy-mindset. It’s not that I love this story any less, or that I no longer want to write it. It’s just… Ugh. You know when insecurities and the overwhelming amount of work in front of you cast a shadow so long and dark it completely overshadows your ability to move forward? Insecurities are a bitch. Makes it seem like everyone and their illiterate brother is more talented and productive than you. And this whole world continuing on its steady march towards the Gates of the Underworld does not make moving forward any easier.
Having tried all the usual suspects for regaining the creative mood, I have been reading more than usual, watching more movies that usually light my fire, and wandered down my favorite Prague streets in hopes of soaking up a thing or two. No results. I’ve tried blaming it on work because December is the most stressful time of the year for us, with lots of overtime and pressure just slowly being poured over our heads like steady-flowing buckets of ice water. Desperation is kicking in. If I don’t get back into it soon, I’ll get myself stuck in a rut that could last for weeks, maybe even months. Not an option.
The Problem isn’t Inspiration; it’s Motivation
I’m not one of those people who waits for “inspiration to hit” before I start writing. Those people do not get anything done, and certainly not efficiently. If you truly want to be a writer, you need to put the work in – even when you very much don’t want to. Even when it’s like pulling teeth. Since July, I’ve been good at that. Thousand words every fucking day since Camp NaNo ended. If you want to make your dreams come true, you have to work for it no matter how physically and mentally challenging it is. The problem I’m faced with at the moment is how the fuck do I get started again? It’s the motivation to properly dig into Spiralling again, to sit down with the actual document and read some words and start writing new ones again. But every single time I open that document and find the spot where I left of, I just look at it and think…. No. I can’t do it. I’m surrounded by so many talented people in my Writer’s and Critique Groups, and no matter how much work, even good work, I put into this novel, it will never measure up to what they do.
Yes, I am perfectly aware that this is a stupid thing to be thinking. It doesn’t even work that way! Other writers are not your competition; they are your colleagues. There’s never going to be a point where the world stops reading books, where they just say it’s enough and no-one picks up another book ever again. It’s just not going to happen. And there are about as many different people out there reading books as there are writers. People exist who would love my book and maybe not like ones written by one of my talented and brilliant friends. I know this. And yet, when you’re in a mood like this, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how aware that you’re wrong. The idea has burrowed into your brain and laid eggs.
How do You Crush Those Eggs and Get Your Groove Back?
If I knew that, don’t you think the tone of this post would be a little different? I’ve tried all the things I usually do in times like this – things that normally work for me, by the way. I even went to see Justice League yesterday because nothing gets me going like a new superhero movie. Yet here I sit, freezing my ass off at Writer’s Group because the heat isn’t working, and wondering how I can get back to that passionate, motivated and hard-working writer I was last month and every month before it since summer. How can I force myself back into who I want to be? Forcing yourself to do anything is generally a very hard thing to do, because it’s one thing fight the world, but when you’re fighting yourself, you know exactly how to strike back. You know exactly what arguments to throw back and convince yourself why it would be a terrible idea to start working right now.
That is what makes situations like this so impossible. No matter how much you want to change the way you feel, to force your way forward and out of the funk, the enemy you’re fighting is often the more persuasive part of yourself. The lazy part, the tired part, the exhausted part that is just so sick of having to do all this work that usually doesn’t pay off anyway. The part that just wants to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a snack and relax for just a little while longer.
How the hell do you fight someone so chill? Someone so intensely set against being productive? What they’re selling is so appealing! How are you supposed to convince them to do things your way if what they’re doing really does sound a lot more pleasant? That’s why it’s so damn hard to force yourself back on your feet once you lose that momentum.
Enough Whining – Let’s Do This
Alright, that’s it – that is like two full Word pages of complaining. There, Rain; you got it out of your system. Happy now? Well no, because nothing is that freaking easy, but fuck if I’m going to keep sitting here feeling sad about not being motivated. If I can write when I have zero inspiration, I can write when just the thought of typing creative words makes my whole body go heavy in physical protest. It has been nine days since NaNoWriMo ended. It’s time to get your shit together.
First, I am going to let my brain play a little and catch up on my bullet journal which I have neglected so much it doesn’t even have a December yet. Consider that my gift to me. Then I’m going to prepare my submission for this week’s critique meeting. After that, I am going to drink wine and brainstorm. I am going to spit-ball with myself about this novel that I know I love somewhere too deep down for me to remember right now. I’m going to write about things I know I want to improve, things I know I’ll need to deal with once I finish draft two and get to the re-outlining phase mentioned in my last post. I’m going to write lists of what I love that I refuse to change no matter what.
I am going to make myself talk, think and write about Spiralling until I am so excited and geared up to get back to writing it that I can hardly wait. And then I’m going to make myself wait until tomorrow before I actually start writing again, because I love a good tease and I want to force myself to become so excited about Spiralling that I can’t believe I even had to talk myself into it.
There. I apologize for giving you a whole lot of complaining, but in fairness I did also tell you what I plan to do about it. If you’re in a similar mood like mine, what do you plan to do about it? What did you do in the past that worked or utterly failed?
I guess when you get stuck in a place like this, there are really only two question you need to ask yourself. How badly do you want this? And what are you willing to do to get it?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play with my bullet journal. Gotta start somewhere, right?