Yesterday, I made the mistake of eating too much for dinner before settling down to work. It took almost two hours to go from having finished eating to actually productively working on something. Two long, sleepy hours of trying to decide if more caffeine or a quick nap was what I needed. Needless to say, I was quite glad I got started earlier, especially because I knew I’d need to write more blog posts ahead of time since I wanted to have a few drafts of prompts, shares, and tips prepared for the days I was going to have trouble getting reliable internet access. My writing laptop intentionally sucks at pretty much everything but playing DVDs and word processing programs.
My laptop can travel with me anywhere, but a lot of the stuff I want to do with my blog and the community I’m trying to build require the desktop/browser applications. Writing on a phone is doable in a pinch, but I’d rather have a dedicated laptop signed by my favorite authors and giving me their best instructions on how to be a writer (Patrick Rothfuss signed it and then just wrote “WRITE!” on it. Super simple stuff.).
We all enjoy stories about triumph. We all enjoy seeing characters we love succeed. In order for that to happen, however, we need to see them challenged. If we really want to see them grow, that often requires we see them fail. Today, write a scene where one or more of your characters are struggling or failing. Set the stage for a later success by showing them in a situation where they are out of their depth.
There’s a meditation technique used in various psychological care settings for returning to a calm, centered mental state while trying to work through some of the thornier types of problems. The idea is to build a place in your head that has all of the things that most relax you and then to tie it to a single word so that mentioning the word or focusing on it can bring you back to that calm place and feeling. Doing something similar is super useful for writing because relaxing and helping to clear away the mental clutter that accumulates makes it easier to get the words onto the page. If you like rain or thunderstorms like I do, there’s a wonderful website out there that can provide the perfect backdrop of sound for your writing sessions. If you want some good (video game) music to go with it, check out this playlist I made on YouTube.
As you get further and further into your writing, don’t forget that there is no one way to successfully write a story. To some writers, it is like a grandly designed building: everything planned out before construction starts so that everything falls into place exactly where it is needed as it is needed. To others, it is like a patchwork quilt: entire segments are done cohesively and together, but there is no real rhyme or reason to all the parts until you start sewing them together at the end. To me, it is like climbing a mountain: I know the mountain is there and I know my goal is at the top, but the exact path isn’t something I necessarily know before hand, so sometimes I take wrong turns and need to double-back or spend a lot of time trying to overcome an obstacle before I can get back to trailblazing. You are not obligated to do it in any particular manner. Meander or make it up as you go along. Do what feels write (ha) or abandon it at the side of the road when you feel it’s not working. All you need to do is keep working.