Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 167 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis

CONQUERING THE GREAT WHITE ABYSS

OR

FACE IT, EVERY STORY BEGINS WITH A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER.

 

Everyone of us has that moment. You sit down to start writing and, ugh, where are the words? It's the Sargasso Sea of stalled, the Bermuda Triangle of terror. You want to be a writer and you can't seem to do the one thing it takes to make that happen. Write! You need a plot, a theme, HELL, even a character will do. But there's nothing there. What's with that?
 
It's stage fright my child, pure and simple. You're center stage in your new role as author and the moment has overwhelmed you. Maybe you've been at it a while and gone stale? Or you're coming off a triumph (No, not the motorcycle! Sheesh!) and can't see how you might top it. Do not get out of that chair! Take deep breaths, then put your fingers on the keys and type, "I am sitting here in front of this screen because..." and run with that thought. Write something about the writing you want to do. Write something that examines why you're not writing what you think you should. Write about that time you had to read that paper you wrote in front of the class. Talk about terror.
 
Well, what do you know, you are a writer. Nope, it's probably not that "Great (you supply the nationality) Novel" you feel you should be writing, but at least your brain's engaged and your fingers are moving. That epic treatise on the entire four and a half billion years of planetary history can wait a bit.
 
The greatest cause of literary constipation is pressure. Most likely you can handle the external variety, (Come on, you know you procrastinate right up to a deadline with the rest of us), but the self-imposed stress is what will ice up your imaginative wings and send you spinning into the dirt fastest. It tends to go like this, "I have to get out ten pages a day." or "My quota is twenty five hundred words daily. MINIMUM!" or "For my first project, I'll write a novel." Later, it tends to go like this, "Why did I ever set a stupid goal?"
 
So how do you get to this state of constantly hammering keys? By sitting down and writing something every chance you get. One word at a time. Some of it can be in blog. Some of it can be in a variety of notebooks and yellow pads. I carry a thumb drive everywhere and take a laptop on the road. (Outside of writing I have very little life, but my writing life is my passion.)
 
Occasionally you'll get stuck. So drag out a notebook or a how-to on writing, or the newspaper, and flip through until something lights the bulb. The vast majority of this is crap, but that's what first drafts are for. In there, you'll find the ideas and inspiration you're looking for. Oh, if you're waiting for the muse? Good luck, she's a fickle bitch. She might be off blowing into your competitors ear right now.
 
That's the other truth. We are all competing. With whom? Look at every face you pass on the street tomorrow. That's them. Everyone of them will tell you that they could have written it better than you did. The difference? You're sitting in front of a keyboard right now, writing about why you can't write. They're still walking down the sidewalk.
 
Over the next week or so I'll be looking at some of the mechanics of short fiction. These are things that can be applied pretty much to any length and I'll address that along the way. I hope some of it will be useful for you. 
 
 
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
 
 
Want to follow or subscribe to this blog? There are gadgets for that on the right side of the page. You can leave comments in the form below. I can be reached directly at dbaylis805@gmail.com . You can also find links to some of the sites I visit from time to time on the right. I'm also looking for submissions to the Your Work/Your Love page. Authors retain all rights.
 
 
Tomorrow,
 
Dane F. Baylis
Author.
 


4 comments:

  1. Hi Dane I don't have literary constipation, in fact my problem is the opposite constant story diarrhea. I have too many ideas. I start one and jump to a new one, how do I see one project through to a finish?

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  2. kath,

    One way to handle this is, when you have decided on a project that really engages you, set aside a block of time everyday at the same time. During that particular block you do not allow yourself to work on anything but that one premier project. Anything else has to occur outside of that time frame. If you want you can also say, in that time I have devoted to my primary project I will write so many words, or paragraphs, or pages - but that just seems to stressful to me. The time to write and the focus on one particular piece are what's really important.

    What to do with those vagrant ideas? Notebooks. Scratch out a rough idea or outline but do not take it any further until you have a finished the first draft of your primary. By the time you come back to most of these the fire will have cooled for most, but the right ones will still glow.

    Which brings up point two. Paasion. Review those notebooks from time to time and see what REALLY reaches into you. If you're going to write things others are going to care about, you have to care about them. As a matter of fact, you have to care about them more, because no one will ever feel the true depths of your private joys, pains, loves, hates, triumphs and defeats. These are what you build your characters personalities from and what, eventually, is that, "You so spoke to me!" moment for your reader.

    Also, this will ensure that the projects you take on matter to you. It is much easier to write through the tough spots when the words have just gone bugger all if the trip is as important as the destination. Which brings on a third tactic.

    Know as much about where it is you want to end as you do about where you want to begin. This will not only give you a clear goal but also make it easieer to attain. This is where I want to start. That's where I'm heading. Now let's let the characters go there. If they want to take a detour, fine, they may know a better way there.

    Just remember, it's the passionate feeling that is the best guide. Not every story survives to maturity, but the passionate ones can develop a life of their own.

    Hope this helps,

    Dane.

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  3. Dane thank you so much every word helps, I have decided to follow through with my picture book it has me worked up and excited and am illustrating as well. I purchased a step by step guide on how to follow the picture book through to an end and this is helping me stay focused. You are spot on when you say their needs to be passion for your work and I feel it for most of my stories. But focus, follow through and finish something is the key for me, once I have done that I will just keep going. Thank you again I appreciate your time and I enjoy reading your words of experience.

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  4. Okay then,
    If that doesn't make my hats fit a little tighter I don't know what will? Just glad you find things in what I post that are a help. I was really flattered about the file you started. ;).

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