Today, Alexa is writing to us about those times when we are SICK of our books. Whether it be editing them or just trying to get that first draft done, we would pretty much rather do anything else. I'm in a place like this right now, so I'm excited about this topic.
You can find her on her blogs Summer Snowflakes and Verbosity Reviews, her editing website Edits by Alexandria, and on Pinterest and Goodreads.
For the most part, being a writer is pretty cool—I mean, we literally create worlds out of a bunch of tiny squiggles—but there are days that just don’t fit into that “most part.” Days when my characters won’t talk to me, my plot is chockful of holes, and as for my writing… well, let’s just say I’ve been staring at the same sentence for the last thirty-seven minutes and I’m beginning to question whether or not I can spell “the.” It’s those days that I wanna give up on writing and just do something… achievable. But because, even on the worst days, my heart’s calling is to write, I have to find a way to slog through those rough moments.
Different systems work differently for different people, and honestly, even I don’t use this system exactly like this every time. But… it looked prettier arranged in steps. So.
Step 1: Take A Break
Now I know all my fellow perfectionist over-achievers are already laughing their way out, because they’re not gonna do that are you crazy how will you ever finish anything BYE. But I promise: it’s not admitting defeat to walk away for a little while. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Read that one book your bestie’s been shoving in your face for a month. Just step away from anything to do with your wayward characters and your swiss-cheese manuscript and give yourself time to decompress.
Eventually though, you do have to come back, because—sadly—your book won’t write itself. You may find taking a break is all you need and it’s almost easy to refocus when you return. But if it isn’t (or you realize you’ve been avoiding your manuscript for several months now. ;) ), then it’s simply time for your butt and your chair, your fingers and your keyboard, to have some extended quality time.
Step 2: BUTT IN CHAIR
This step is fairly self-explanatory: butt must be in chair and fingers must be on keyboard. Got it? Great.
Step 3: Remind Yourself Of Your Why
One of the best ways I’ve found to pull myself out of a slump is to remember Why I Want To Be A Writer, or even, Why I’m Working On This Project (these could be completely different things). What is my point to coming back every day, jamming out another hundred words? What, with this project, do I want to achieve?
What do you want to achieve? Do you want to give your characters a voice? Encourage others? Something entirely different? When you wanted to give up, why did you say, “I can’t quit,” and drag yourself back?
Once I’ve regained a grasp on why I’m here, I’m sometimes ready to start again. Other times, I do all of the above, and my brain still goes, “Writing? Enh... How ’bout we don’t?” After that, I’ve found the only thing to do is trick myself into pounding out the words with some good old-fashioned bribery.
Step 4: The Reward System
1. Music: I actually am one of those people who likes to listen to music while they write, but sometimes, I find the songs more of a distraction than a help. So I tell myself, “If you edit this chapter” or “if you finish this blog post” or even “JUST READ THE NEXT TWO PAGES,” then I’m allowed a quick jam session, celebrating my success.
2. Desserts: I. Love. Chocolate. During NaNoWriMo 2013, I rewarded myself with my favorite: Lindt Dark Chocolate truffles. They’re kind of expensive, especially for a then-jobless high schooler, but I “made the investment” and bought myself a big bag at the beginning of November. The catch? I couldn’t even sniff them until each 10% of my word count was reached.
3. TV: I rarely find time to watch anything; simultaneously, there are so many shows I love. So on those days I just wanna give up and binge-watch CW’s Flash, I put myself on a schedule and focus on finishing quickly and well so I can watch an episode before quitting time.
Final Tip: Hold Yourself Accountable
Thank you so much for having me on Go Teen Writers! What do you use to trick yourself into writing? What’s your reason for returning to the story of your heart? Hope you enjoyed, and thanks again!
~ Love, Alexa