I made the executive decision last night to go right to bed when I got home rather than try to write. That means I’ve fallen even further behind, of course, but I went to bed “early” because I’m spending all afternoon/evening today writing, then all day Saturday writing, and then almost all of Sunday writing. If I’m well-rested (or at least better-rested) going into this push, I’ll be able to focus and write more quickly. In case that doesn’t work, I’ve bought a case of energy drinks and created a rationing schedule so I don’t give myself a heart attack or over-caffeinate myself. I’ve also got tea for when I need a little something but don’t want to make the 5-6 hour commitment an energy drink requires.
I have crafted a weekend with no excuses to do anything but write. Spend time with my s/o? We’re going to make dinner and work on projects, maybe play a board game or two. I can’t focus and need a break? No Breath of the Wild of Destiny 2 for me, I’ve got a new Pokemon game that can be played for a few minutes and then set aside, paused because I closed the screen on my 3DS. Need something to eat for lunch? I’ve got pre-made soup from Costco. 10 minutes and my meal is done. Sleepy? Caffeine! I’ve got it all figured out. All I’ve gotta do is get through one last work day and I’m ready to sit down and crank out 20,0000 words in a weekend.
In other news, I can finally play Skyrim on my Switch! I’ve been looking forward to this immensely because I’ve always enjoyed playing Skyrim, but with easy it is to mod on my computer (and how I feel like its impossible to play WITHOUT mods, now that I have them), starting the game is now a bit of a longer process. I thought about picking it up for the Xbox One for some casual couch-playing, but then I heard the new Nintendo console was going to have it. Here we are, a year later, and I can FINALLY PLAY IT. At some point. I should probably not buy it this close to Christmas or else I’m not going to have anything to tell my family when they ask me what I’d like. Which is totally not a thing that has happened before.
Also, waiting until AFTER NaNoWriMo, at least, would be for the best. I can’t really afford another distraction and I just know I’d tell myself I was just going to create a character only to realize, 8 hours later, that I know owned a plot of land in every major city using only money I’d stolen from pick-pocket tutors. Yeah, they actually have a lot on them and aren’t any more immune to being robbed than any other NPC.
As a middle-class, heterosexual, white man, I have a tendency to look past a lot of the problems other people face, not because I’m trying to ignore their issues or struggles but because I don’t see them in my own life. It takes a lot of work to remain cognizant of my own privilege and I’m not always successful. A lot of protagonists in modern and almost all characters in historical settings would have had similar issues or would regularly encounter people with similar issues. For today’s prompt, write a scene where your character struggles to understand the problems faced by someone less privileged than them or where your character has to interact with someone who doesn’t understand their own privilege (the interaction can be a positive learning experience or a negative trial your character overcomes, you decide).
Today’s inspiration is my favorite book on writing, Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” If you want a really great book on what it means to write and some wonderful suggestions on how to frame things in your mind, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Lamott writes about her own issues, but uses them to address concerns and issues everyone faces. I almost feel like her book is a higher authority than some other similar books (Like Stephen King’s “On Writing”) because Lamott isn’t some millionaire writer, she makes enough to get by most of the time and thus still faces a lot of problems that we not-yet-pro writers face. I mean, how many writers starting out can relate to drug-fueled binge-writing sessions? Or struggling to make writing only a part of our daily lives rather than letting it dominate our lives?
There are dozens of really good quotes in this book, but the one that has helped me the most is “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I feel like every writer needs to hear that at some point in their life. I bring all of my experiences, good and bad, into everything I write and I can often go through my stories and point out where each character came from and what happened to bring that character to life. I used to feel somewhat ashamed about how often people could find themselves (shown in a positive or negative light) in my writing. I don’t, anymore. Writing that honestly has helped me move on in many cases and, in one case, even helped repair a friendship I had thought damaged beyond recovery.
Ultimately, we can only write about what we know or have learned and, as Lamott said, “If you people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
The irony of my upcoming tip is not lost on me.
If you’re having a difficult time getting your mind in order to write or you’re struggling with feelings of illegitimacy (which I still get sometimes, so its pretty common), I suggest looking for people writing about what it means to them to be a writer. As my inspiration shows, people writing about writing can help change your perspective on what you’re doing or give you a little flash of insight that can push you through a rough patch. If you do a simple google search, you will find thousands of results, some of varying degrees of usefulness. If you ask your writing friends, though, I’m sure they could make some suggestions.
Anne Lamott: “Bird by Bird”
Stephen King: “On Writing”
Thomas C. Foster: “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” (not exactly writing about writing, but it was still super helpful for me).