Like many other writers and artists I know, these past six months have been very much a wash-out for trying to get any work done. The impetus, the inspiration, the mood and the want had simply gone AWOL. Which is, on reflection, difficult to understand. For many of us, for the first time ever, we’ve all had time on our hands to devote to our craft. Time to write, time to do research, time a plenty to get right down to it. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not settle at the computer. My mind just wasn’t on the task. I even found it difficult reading a book. I’ve only read three through to the end since January! Worse, even where my painting was concerned, I had no inclination or enthusiasm to paint anything. Several I started were thrown in the bin; I just couldn’t get them to work. Don’t get me wrong, I did paint two pictures I was pleased with, but nothing like my usual turnover. My heart just wasn’t in anything.
Where writing was concerned, it wasn’t even as if I had nothing in progress. I’ve at least three novels on the go along with several other outlines, ideas, first chapters written. So what was preventing me from finishing anything? Apart from which, I hated being so word-washed out.
My main difficulty was, I think, the book I am anxious to complete. The story is written to the end, but I have been trying to introduce a new character into the plot. I know the character well from my previous novel and want to expand on him but no matter how much I wrote, thought, dreamt or researched the subject it just wasn’t working and promptly stripped out all reference to him in the book. My mojo well and truly sunk. What didn’t help either was that I couldn’t meet up with my writing friends to discuss such matters. So many times they have dug me out of a plot hole, and I them. I so missed them. And our long lunches that always run into tea as well. Sighs. Oh well, perhaps again soon.
Relief came when a friend invited me to join in a fortnightly Zoom meeting with two other writers I knew well but had never met. Joy of joys. We chatted, we joked, we put the world to rights but rarely did we discuss writing, until the last few Zoom-ups (is that the right expression?). And following on from regular other Zoom-ups on a one-to-one basis with my pal, she came up with the perfect answer to my character’s conundrum. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks, Tricia.
So now there was nothing stopping me getting going again, right? Wrong. You see, I do my best writing early in the morning. I’m talking about 5:00 am here. Dawn chorus time. A habit from the days I worked full-time. Always up early, raring to go, refreshed and full of words. I’m still up at 5 0’clock but during the summer, I’d rather be outside, sitting in my garden with that delicious first of the day cup of coffee, observing glorious dawns, hearing birds sing, watching them feed, simply enjoying a peaceful, and for me, the best time of day.
And it seems I’m still not the only one with this writing stumbling block to climb over, for yesterday I was invited to join in a regular writing sprint with my three fellow Zoomers. At a set time to work on our books, trying to get as many words down as we can in an hour, writing or editing, and at the end of the allotted time, email each other with our progress. A bit like a mini NaNoWriMo!
The first stint was yesterday at 6:00pm. Never a good time for me to write. But write I did. Not a lot but at least I was working at it. We all made good progress. I found it motivational, fun and supportive. More to the point, once I started writing, I didn’t want to stop at the end of the hour. In fact, I didn’t. I went on for another half-hour, and felt so pleased with myself for doing it. Another stint is scheduled for tomorrow evening, and I am looking forward to it. I can still enjoy my mornings outside and get into the habit of writing of an evening. This is the kick up the writing backside I needed.
So, if you’re stuck in the old writing rut and can’t find a way out of it, why don’t you team up with a few writing friends and stint write? You never know, it might just work for you too.
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Such an irony during lockdown. All that time on my hands but just like you Kit my writing mojo had taken a hike! So I concentrated on publishing my latest book instead. Now I’m back to the ms. I’ve always believed that if something isn’t working then it’s not meant to be and you have to rethink the whole thing and not head but the wall trying to fit a square peg into a round hole! You can’t put a time on the breakthrough either; that moment when everything falls into place and you think ‘well why was that so hard?’ It’s all about keeping going and having self belief. The company of fellow writers is an added bonus. Glad you’ve broken the deadlock xx
Ah, Jo, I can understand your motivation loss when you had so many other things going on but time on hands, like retirement, often means we too easily put things back, thinking there’s always tomorrow. Thrilled your latest book is out there and even more pleased you are back to working on the next. As for me, shall keep battering the peg into the hole as I know somewhere amongst the words is the answer to the riddle posed in the new book. My trouble was I was looking at all the right clues for the wrong reasons and couldn’t see the woods for the words. Take care, my friend and perhaps before long we can catch up in person. x 🙂
Looking forward to that too Kit, the Bathwick Boatman is now open for business but it’s all about when we feel safe to go out…xx
Sprints motivate me so much. It’s just nice to know there are others out there writing at the same time as me. And, well, being held accountable for having SOMETHING to show for the hour helps, too. 🙂 Kit, you are a blessing, and a motivator in your own right, and I feel certain your sprint and Zoom friends all feel that exact same way.
Thank you, Laurie. And thanks for including me in the sprint. Such a simple idea but so effective in getting the writing juices going and, more importantly, creating the discipline sphere in which to do it. Who needs bubbles when we have such great writing friends? 🙂