Stuttering steps – how to get out of your head as a writer

Joe’s Post #97

out of your headHow do you get out of your head?

Hey, it’s the place we writers live. It’s where we create characters, it’s where worlds are born, it’s where dialogue flows from and where you have to somehow keep a thousand demon voices at bay (and some of those, good writing advice voices).

I have to say I largely failed this week. Oh sure there was a ton of other things happening including a mini-move and getting my house ready for sale (yes, it seems like nearly all of us 5/5/5 writers are moving) but the reality is that I could have given up “24” to write. Given up a bit of sleep here and there. Certainly given up being so OCD about making my house perfect for viewing.

So why was it so tough to make 50 pages this week?

It was more than just the voices that say it’s a waste of time or you can’t write. It’s the voices from all the books I’ve read, all the classes I’ve taken, all the critiques I given and received.

It’s merging character and theme and plot. It’s making the dialogue sing. It’s description  that’s neither too vague nor too literary. It’s balancing out backstory with keeping the reader interested. It’s … well, you get the idea.

But a good part of it was also being rusty. Yup. Rusty. I’d spent the last month and a bit writing blogs. Super fun. Easy for me to write. But writing a novel is another skill altogether.

I had to relearn the process. But I had a case of the stuttering starts.

I’d write a sentence, or paragraph, then go back and fix it, then write a bit more, then go back to the start, again and fix it. This week, I wrote a good 50 pages. The only problem, the actual page count was 27!! Way too much time was spent on going back and forth, rewriting.

So, let me tell you how I got out of this cycle. Be warned that the following information is for advanced writers only or those who struggle with being a goober sometimes.

jamie1) Have coffee. Or whiskey. Or a mocha-chai tea latte with extra tofu bubbles. Whatever. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Think of Bambi or that guy who’s going to play Jamie on Outlander in a kilt. The moment you realize you’re getting into that stuttering start-stop, take a break. Seriously. Walk away for a bit. You need to reboot your mind. But set a time limit. 30 min. Then back to the story. Do NOT read what you just wrote. Continue on from the last sentence.

cat moron2) Do not, I repeat, do not take yourself so seriously. Your dog doesn’t take you seriously, certainly your cat thinks you’re a bit of a joke, so don’t sit down thinking you’re Stephen King or that dude who wrote Kite Runner. At least not yet. (And even when you become Stephen King, I bet you a hundred scary balloons that his cat thinks he’s still a joke.)

3) Let go of that need to be perfect. We are imperfect creatures and we will make all kinds of mistakes. No novel is perfect. Not a one. Mine won’t be. God knows. Yours won’t be. Just write the story you want to tell.

4) This is supposed to be fun, right? Have some fun. The groove will come. Trust me. If you’re scene sucks, have your character say, damn, boi, dis scene like sux, yo. And then do #1 (no, not pee, read my #1 idea.)

editing5) You can always fix what you write. Odds are you will anyway, so just write for the love of God, just write. Get the story down. Work on the technical aspects of the story later.

Hey, I dunno if this will work for anyone but me. But it got me writing today. It’s really about getting out of the analytical side of your brain and into the creative side.

Any other people have ways to do that?

Oh and hey, in other news, the 5/5/5 will be meeting again next week. We all have the first pages of our novels done. We are back to writing, again. And I expect we’ll come out of that meeting with a few more ideas on what we’ll be doing in the future. Having read the submissions, I have to say that all of the writers have always been good writers, but damn, boi, yo, they’re like becoming sick story-tellers, too.


New Facebook page set up: 1. Justjoebc.  Please like it. I am in desperate need of validation as a living being.

Pages Written on New Novel: 27 Not good production, but it’s better than 0 production. Plus, my house looks freaking awesome now.

Blogs Written This Week: All done now. Kinda miss it. More blogs coming.

Queries Out this Week: 0 (only so much time)

Rejections: 0.

Queries Still Out There: 0

Hope Meter: 80/100. Dropped to 60. But, as of today, back to 80.

This entry was posted in Writing by Joe Cummings. Bookmark the permalink.

About Joe Cummings

Aquarius. Traveler. Gamer. Writer. A New Parent. 4 of these things are easy. One is not. But the journey is that much better for the new people in my life. A life I want to share with others, to help them, maybe, to make them feel less alone, sure, to connect with the greater world, absolutely.

5 thoughts on “Stuttering steps – how to get out of your head as a writer

  1. Put #5 to # 1. Just get the damn story down. First drafts are supposed to suck. That’s what revision is for. What do I do? Walk. Hour, hour and a half. Let my subconscious work on it. Garden. Make dinner. Play a game – either video/computer/online or a real three D board game with other people. Eat junk food (then walk, walk, walk (or guilt, guilt, guilt) to get the food off the hips and gut. You can tell that’s not working, right?) Let myself fix *only* the previous day’s work (it’s the way I warm up to the writing of the day). Make notes in bold in the text. Notes only – no rewriting or editing). Swear a lot. Sweat a lot. Pet the cat. Procrastinate – you can tell how badly the writing is going by how clean and sparkly my house is. (Which will tell you something about how often I end up with writer’s block – not very.) Anything that gets my conscious mind off the story and lets the girls in the sweatshop basement do their work.

    • I think you hit on the big idea, Bev. I have a program that runs in the background of my brain, and it works best when my brain isn’t thinking about what the program is running in the background. But I feel guilty about not affirmatively doing something about the story, and sometimes the program doesn’t run so well, and I never know when that’s going to happen. The trick, I guess, is to find a way to to hook into your subconscious. But if you found a method, you mightn’t be hooking into the subconscious. Oh well ………………………………..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s