My writing process is simple: I just write and keep writing until my brain stops working. That’s how I work. Then, I look back at what I managed to write and try to unwind it. Half the time I don’t even realize where a story is going before I finish. I don’t usually have some end game that came to me. I don’t reverse engineer my work, starting with the ending and working my way back to the beginning. Instead, I rely on my characters to tell me where they should be going. It’s probably not the best approach. Arguably, I’d probably be a more successful writer if that weren’t my approach, because if it did work I’d probably have sold more works. (Though, considering my inability to promote myself and such, making over $100 in total on my works isn’t actually that bad.)
We returned from our vacation on Sunday. I did read Seth Rogen’s “Yearbook”. It was fantastic. If you want to laugh and forget about your troubles for a bit, it’s definitely a great read. At the local bookstore in the Berkshires, I did manage to find a single copy of “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner. While I didn’t have the time to read the book in a day like I did “Yearbook” (I’m a very fast reader), I also definitely recommend “Crying in H Mart”. Being able to relax, take 2 very relaxing bubble baths, and just read was essential in getting the recharge that I needed to get back into things. Sure enough, a little before passing out at night, I sat down with my “Anything is Pawsable” notebook my husband bought me for inspiration and started to sketch out a character. Then, all of a sudden, words came to me. And I started to flood a few pages with excitement. I’m not good at much, but cooking and words are absolutely my strengths.
What is the story about? No clue. I have a main character named Elise. I have words that start a story, which I’m hoping will be part of a serial. But, I won’t know until I get in there. I can picture her. I know the basics of her situation. From there? I guess I’ll see where the story takes me.
What I like about this approach to writing is that it takes me on the same journey as the reader. I connect with the characters. I feel bad for their situation. I laugh at their jokes. I put so much of myself into these works that it’s like watching a child grow. You can only do so much to help, but eventually they are going to take the reigns and you are just along for the ride.
The only thing I know is that this is the first time that I was really able to write something outside of blogs or ghostwriting work. This was something that I think I’m going to love. This is a journey that I hope I can continue on. I guess we’ll see what happens.
There are so many current, relevant topics I could be discussing right now. Like how countries are seeing a resurgence in cases because they opened up probably way too soon. How if you need a 10 step strategy on opening up, it may be too soon to. People have the right to feel terrified because no one really knows anything about this virus, except for the fact that it’s death toll keeps rapidly rising and there’s no real treatment or vaccine to help people through it. Or how people who ignore these guidelines for staying safe are the reason why we’re still dealing with this.
But I don’t want to. It makes me sad and angry and all types of negative.
Instead, I will work through my brain’s struggle to come up with a story to start a series of children’s stories. I have a character that I so desperately want to see come to life. I have her personality in mind. I’ve envisioned what she looks like. But I’m not a children’s author. Aside from “Dear Child”, I’ve struggled a bit trying to get back to the genre because I know there are stories there. I know that my character is going to be a flawed character, but I want to send a message of empowerment not to just other girls, but to all kids. I have all these great hopes for the story.
Unfortunately, I have no story. I’m not sure if it’s my workload breaking into my brain’s creative side, draining any will of creativity out of me. I’m not sure if it’s anxiety over what’s going on in the world that is hurting my brain. I just know that I have a great character, but she’s just sitting there smiling at me through my rough sketches of her. It’s frustrating. I’ve never had this long of a dry spell in my personal writing.
It is probably a combination of being burnt out from writing due to my workload and the fact that with the kids home all the time with no break while juggling said workload as well as my new “school of mom”, that I don’t have that quiet time where ideas just flow from me. With everything going on, I don’t see that changing any time soon and that does make me a little sad.
Writing may seem like an easy task. But words are hard. Stories are hard. Having the will to type endlessly is hard. Writers don’t have an easy job. We are tasked with inspiring emotions and getting people to relate to a fictional character. We need readers to connect on some level to the story. And we don’t get the ability to tap into the nuances of body language and inflections that can often only be heard. We can try, but we can’t reach everyone and we know that. But you need to be able to reach someone.
Maybe over the weekend I can get the chance to sit down and work on something. Maybe.
I’ve been trying to come up with my next project. I have many that I have started, but either got tangled up in some plot knot that I couldn’t get out of, second guessed my story, or just haven’t flushed out the idea for my children’s book. Finally, something hit me that inspired me enough to do a very rough sketch of the character. A fantasy character. My first adventure into the fantasy genre. As someone who’s barely read anything in this genre aside from World of Warcraft lore/novels and Game of Thrones, this is going to be a challenge I think. I know. But one that I hope I can scrape together the time and brainpower to go through with.
The idea started off from simple inspiration: a character with a name (no spoilers) that was a nickname a beloved friend used to call me. He would say it every time he logged into the game, one we played together for nearly a decade together at that time before he suddenly passed away. He was a precious friend and amazing human being that I think about often. Lately, that name has been nagging me in my brain as if the character needed to come to life. It sounds strange, but other writers could easily understand. I’m not too insane. Mostly.
The problem is all that I have is this angsty fantasy character, a name, and a specific look. Do I turn this into a kid’s fantasy illustrations with my subpar art skills? Do I make it a middle-school aged fantasy novel with some illustrations to bring this character to life? Would it be a series or a one-off? What would the plot even be? It’s hard to navigate this uncertain world but I hope this project brings me back into doing something I love, because there is something soul crushing about spending all of your brain power into something that isn’t yours.
Here’s to hoping that I manage to figure this one out. I think my sanity needs me to channel some of that creative energy in my mind.
A submission is due in 10 days for an anthology. 10 days. I keep writing, but I end up tossing everything. It doesn’t seem right. I don’t like the start. What was I thinking when I wrote that? My brain tells me to go again and I do. It’s a long struggle. I have stories in mind that I want to write. In fact, I have manage to plan out NaNoWriMo already with a new idea isn’t of trying to add 50,000 more words to last year’s. I have considered reworking the 25,000 words I completed last year to create a 5,000 word short story. But I didn’t feel I could. It’s not a great time.
It’s not as simple as just writing. That’s the problem when you work in a creative industry. If your brain isn’t functioning that day, you struggle to complete your tasks for the day. You don’t get paid. Other professions, you can have an off day but you still get paid for it. When you have to create ideas and your brain decides “Nah, maybe tomorrow”, you’re stuck. You can try everything in your power to untie this not, but it’s not likely going to work as well as you’d hope.
Yesterday was probably my most productive day I’ve had in a while. The good news is I still have saved the 2 pieces I have started. The bad news is I’m still not feeling it. I hoped that a few days away would have helped the creative process along. It didn’t. But, I’ve always been a “crunch at deadline” kind of writer. Something will hit me and then I will be unstoppable writing. The problem when you spend your writing energy freelancing and ghostwriting to earn money, is that you exert all of your creative energy on those projects. Sometimes for only a few dollars per article. Then when it’s time for you to work on your own projects, it doesn’t work out well.
It isn’t easy being someone in the creative industry. There is no definitive on how good you are. Art is appreciated by some and mocked by others. I still love it. Here’s to hoping that getting through my projects gets a little bit easier now that the weather is getting nicer and I can enjoy some fresh air to clear my head.