"So Whatcha Been Writing?"
It's been awhile since I've started a series in the Forbidden Blog, but as I travel along a seemingly endless path of life, I can't help but notice all the little things that keep a writer from writing. It's as though I personally need to jot down a handful of them, if for nothing else, as reminders for future Chris.
From my teenage years to my early twenties, I always felt as though nothing in the entire world could stop me from scribbling down a tale. Oh, how I was wrong! Once college concluded and it was back to an often bleak real world, obstacles positioned themselves around every turn that led to completing a story.
What you'll find below is just my personal observations and opinions. While some triumphs and hardships are universal amongst all human beings, not everyone's life is the same. Some writers have different enemies distracting them from their work; some have the same but with a different flavor. Perhaps, you'll relate to the entries on this list on some level. Perhaps, you'll want to suggest another enemy of writing in the comments. Perhaps you'll think I'm full of shit. Either way, I hope you enjoy the following 10 Enemies of Writing, starting today with the first five.
10. Loose Ends
When there's nothing else on your plate, it's quite easy to relax and forget about the little things, such as hanging up the laundry or cleaning the study.
If you plan on really diving into your writing, I've always found it best to knock out all the menial tasks that will enviably snatch your attention away from your work. In addition to scheduling a time to write, be sure to allow sometime to wrap up those chores. Once all the laundry is sorted and the study is tidy, you'll be more likely to stay focused on your prose.
09. Bloated Calendars
When I was younger, it was much easier to find time to write. Let's face it, life was much easier (or simpler, at least).
Back then, I could fit writing between my college and working schedules. I could stay up all night writing, if I so desired. (NOTE: I can no longer do this. I am getting older. And I'm getting more tired. I also have this strange theory we are born with finite energy, and since we're morons as kids, we burn a lot of it up just running around in circles whilst picking our noses.) Hell, I even maintained a fairly healthy social life while working on the early stories for No-Injury Policy.
But as you get older, you don't have quite the same spunk. And these damn mail-letters with red numbers keep showing up in your mailbox. Now you work most of your life, schedule work-related functions around your work schedule, go home to a family, etc. You're 150% overbooked.
So take a breath. Think about how much time your everyday obligations honestly require and set aside some time every day or every other day to simply write. It doesn't matter what you write about or for how long. All that matters is that you find some time to do it and make it a routine.
Another thing I found easier to do in my youth (oddly enough) was leave my phone in one room and write in the other. Now there are responsibilities in life. Perhaps you have dependents. Now phones are also more sophisticated, and there's Pokemon Go.
Ditch the phone or whatever noise-maker is keeping you from giving writing your full attention. If you're worried that you'll miss some kind of emergency or important call, tell whomever it is to call if there's a problem and either silence or ignore texts.
There's no real schematic. Do what works for you, but realize your cell phone truly does take quite a bit of time.
07. Social Life
As I mentioned above, there was once a time when I maintained a normal social life and also managed to crank out some stories. That was when there was so much of a social life to be had that it became easy to say "no" and stay indoors more often. Take away the availability of a social life, and then all of the sudden, you'll find you inconvenience yourself just to spend some time speaking with a like-minded individual.
Maybe you're the type that's always been around a lot of people and always been one for a long night out. Good for you, but the problem remains the same.
Unfortunately, it's difficult to maintain a terrific social life while also completing novels. There needs to be balance. If you've planned on writing for the evening, just kindly reject the offer to go out. (Once-in-a-lifetime occurrences excluded.) It may not make you popular, but it just may make you an author.
One bad habit I still have as a writer is starting over. What I mean by this is rewriting the same part of a scene over and over again until perfection (which, you know, nothing is perfect) during your very first go at it.
If you find yourself constantly rewriting the same section of your prose while days slip by, try free flowing. You can start off with an outline or list, but the idea is to start writing and move forward -- not back -- until the entire work is done. (Edit nothing yet.) During NaNoWriMo, I often use the website 750words.com to keep such a mindset.
You may go back and realize some of what you initially wrote was garbage, but at least you have the entire tale written down. Now that you're finished, it's time to edit. Yay...
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back in soon for the second installment of 10 Enemies of Writing.
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.