Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Push and Pull of Process

Writer's block is unique for each writer. Some say it comes over you when you don't know what happens next. For me, knowing what happens next can be a block because why write it down when I know what happens next? I can wander around fantasizing about what happens next and be perfectly content that I have story without writing. Once I write, the options are minimized. I like options. The way through this block is to push myself to write. This is easier when I have written nothing or very little the previous day.

This year I've discovered that when the story gets too personal I shut down. Being emotionally involved is a block. This explains my fascination with spirituality and philosophy. The only way to get through this block is to take off the girdle of expectations and free associate.

Those are conscious blocks. I participate in creating those blocks, so they aren't really blocks, they're avoidance. Genuine writer's block is when I don't realize I'm avoiding. It happens when I'm happily sweeping the floor while planning out yard work. When I gladly scrub the toilet or mend clothing. Basically, whenever I enjoy mundane, normally boring tasks I know I'm blocked. Because I'd rather do that than write. And I don't know I'm blocked until I notice how happy I am performing a boring, stupid chore. Although this is (for me) a subtle block, it is the easiest one to fix. All I have to do is sit down and write, which I am happy to do once I notice I'm avoiding. This kind of block generally happens after I hit 30K.

There are also release landmarks along the way, places where the progress pulls me onward. The beginning is usually the time I'm wide open. Zero to about 4k is the zooming zone. Around 5K I have a tendency to rest on my laurels, talk about my budding novel, and feel the first fears of novel development. Once I get to 20K I'm truly committed, a kind of insanity that makes me one with the noveling sorority. I've settled into the process which pulls me forward. At 30K I begin to feel it's all downhill from here. Probably because by this point I have some well-developed characters, most of a plot, and some interest in finding out what happens next. At 42K I am the Swami! I have licked the game and I'm on my way. Nothing can stop me from reaching 50K.

Once I get to week four, or 35K, (which would be this time of the month) the thought of not reaching 50K pulls me forward. I'm so addicted to completing tasks that I can't not meet the goal. I'm well on the way, can easily write a couple thousand words at a sitting, and the impending doom of not reaching 50K by the 30th pulls me forward. That and not wanting to tell everyone I did not finish this year. Because that would be so embarrassing!

This can also be the time of the month, as it is this year, when writing a post about the writing process impels me to write. It's like, oh, I don't know, taking a big drink of water before a hike or having a good breakfast before a hard day of work. Something like that. Anyway, it helps me get on with it and that's the whole gozornenplat. Or raison d'ĂȘtre. Or Hauptsache. Or ... gotta go!

"Uncle Tauber's Trunk" A retired writer and a CIA profiler riddle out the secrets of the contents of an old German trunk.
Word Count Statistics
Goal: 50,000 words by midnight Nov. 30
Today's Total: 35055
Written Today: 0 (haven't started yet - doing this first - but believe me, there will be words today!)

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