Last night I stayed home and had an alone night-in with some Nachos (I do this thing where I bake Mountain Bread wraps into little chips so that I can almost pretend that it’s good for me and it’s actually really fucking amazing. You guys should all come over for nachos some time!)
I gorged on said nachos, hugged my cat, watched an episode of Girls, then sat down at my computer to do what I like to call ‘some writes’ (because I am a lame-ass who thinks it’s hilarious to talk as if I have little to no grasp of proper grammar.) Anyway, even though I had all this free time and I was ‘feeling it’ and I had some vague idea of the part of the story I wanted to tell, I got sweet fuck all done.
Seriously. I got out maybe 500 words. And that is being extremely generous. So, what is it that holds me up? Why do I go in with all these good intentions and come out with five hundred words?
Well, one factor is that I get so caught up in figuring out all the little whys and hows. My characters can’t just do something. I need to know why they are doing it, and exactly how. A bunch of my writing time will be spent obsessing about all the little minutiae of how those spunky, precocious teens actually accessed the upper levels of the spaceship rather than just showing them actually doing it. This is both a gift and a curse. It means I really think about the motivations and practicalities of what my characters do. But at the same time, characters can just do something without complex explanations of how. I’m really starting to find the balance between these two extremes, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with it. Last night, I struggled.
The other big time-sucker in my quest to tell lame stories of plucky space-children is that I agonise over every single fucking word. Like seriously. I’ll be plodding along, mid-sentence and I’ll throw down a word then…
“No, wait. I could say that better. This is not how I want it to sound at all. What word is it that I am thinking of? It’s right there, tangled in the crazed, maze-like workings of my brain! It’s right on the tip of my tongue! Bloody Hell, why did I smoke all that weed in high school? And at uni? And after uni? It’s scrambled my brains! I’m suffering from acute lethologica and I may as well just quit writing and move to the country and start raising bloody Corgis. Ah!”
Then out comes the thesaurus, then I’m online checking out other synonyms until the word I was really looking for, the one that fits perfectly pops out at me and I fit it in and everything is right with the world until I get four sentences along and it happens all over again. It’s exhausting and infuriating and oh-so-time-consuming. It’s an epic struggle that I wage again and again.
I’m working really hard to temper this urge to get everything just so. I mean, it’s called a first draft for a reason, and I need to learn how to just get it out, then come back and get it right later on. Even if I just settled on a word or sentence structure in half of the instances where I get wrought over them, it would save me SO MUCH TIME.
So, those are some of my biggest time-suckers when it comes to writing (and I’m not even counting the obligatory writers procrastination), and while I am working on it, they are some nasty habits to break.
What are some of the biggest walls you hit when you write? Any tips for how I can get past these issues? Discuss it below!