Monday, 25 February 2013

When You Don't Know What To Write...

I have been in kind of a funk all day, not utilising my time the way I could be and just not finding the motivation to get to work on the multitude of projects I have sitting in my in-tray.  Well, it's a virtual in-tray, since all my writing is done on a computer, but to be able to tick something off that task-list is as addictive as collecting Pokemon.

Note to self - get a new Pokemon game for the DS.

I use a lot of lists to help organise and prioritise tasks, and it does feel good to clear them systematically.  Sometimes things crop up that delays or expedites one or another, and often I wind up juggling and jumping between tasks as my creative energy drags me along like a strong current.  I have made good progress on my primary WIP, getting over half-way through the first draft since the start of the new year.  This past week, though, I have felt myself getting a little bogged down.  I'm antsy to write, but as much as I love the story I'm currently doing, there are always new and exciting things just over the horizon.  On the other hand, I'm reluctant to leap in to a new project with my current one unfinished.  I could do some editing on PICT, which has been sailing slowly along as well, but sometimes when you're in the mood to write and not to write, you just have to put pen to paper and see what spills out.

Proverbially speaking, of course.  I can't hold a pen.  I have a blog though, so I threw up a post.  I have been hanging out on Twitter a bit lately, so I always have some quip at my fingertips.  What really felt refreshing, though, was to try to write a short story right off the top of my head.  Remember creative writing classes back in school?  Somehow it was so easy (at least, for those of us who had designs on being an author, the rest of the class hated it).  You were given an hour, maybe two, and a few sheets of paper.  Maybe you even got a prompt, something suitably vague like "time" or "family feuds".  Perhaps a location, like an island, or an event such as a funeral.  Then you wrote, and if your muse was smiling on you that day, you got a heck of a lot more work done than an adult trying to write in their home office for five hours straight.

I'm not going to share it here, it was simply an exercise, but I quite liked my little story.  It was a mild erotica, of all things, and had a nice arc to it with a solid beginning, middle and end.  I even detected some subtext as I read through it again, and the best part was I managed to keep it under 2000 words.  Usually my 'short' stories are in the 10k region.  I'm not incapable of being brief, but the kinds of stories I tend to tell generally require a slow burn to build the tension.  They're 150 minute dramas rather than 90 minute action movies, which doesn't make them better of course, it just means they play by different rules.  Thinking back to the Oscars, all the big movies this year were quite lengthy, but I have noticed a trend toward action films filling up screen-time as well.  The Hobbit naturally was three hours long, and the finished piece will last nine.  That's a lot of sword swinging and pipe smoking.  The Transformers movies were all over two hours, and I can't help but wonder if they would have made just as much cash with twenty or thirty minutes less of explosions.  What this ironically rambling paragraph is trying to say is that I feel stories should be given the room they need to breathe, but sometimes a quickie is highly satisfying.

Hmm, maybe that mild erotica went to my head.  Still, never be afraid to experiment, and if you've got even a tiny story in you, see if you can get it down.  When you don't know what to write, know that it's worth writing anything.  Now back with a vengeance, your moment of zen:

Yes, it's just blank space.  Can't get much more zen than that.

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