when you fall off the wagon, get right back on again

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When you fall off the writing wagon, or blogging wagon for that matter, it seems that popular wisdom tells me to get right back in the saddle again.  I confess that, true to my plan, I have desperately fallen off the writing/blogging wagon over the last couple of months.

I make no apology because the fact of the matter is that life got in the way.  I had an overseas visitor and a serious soul-searching date to grapple with and something had to give.  Blogging was the thing I had to let go of.  So I did.  Just like that.  Gone!

A few times, I sat down at my computer and told myself to just write a blog, write a paragraph, just write.  But I couldn’t.  There was nothing there.  The well was dry.

So rather than moan about it, or stress about it, or see it as some sign from the universe that this was all going to custard.  I rested.  I played.  I took little steps like planning chapters, or doing research, or creating character profiles.

Rather than resisting the urge to stop, I decided to go with it and see where it would lead me.

When you feel the need for a rest, listen to it.

So instead of pushing myself and telling myself to be a disciplined person, I listened to my body and gave myself some time off.

I am so glad that I did.  Not only did I decide to tackle a completely different novel from the story that I had originally envisaged writing first, I also discovered the joy of movement.

Instead of sitting in front of my computer screen, I took myself for a swim.

Instead of lying around thinking, I went out walking.

And it felt good.

Because the fact of the matter is that I want writing my novel to feel good.  I want it to be fun.  I don’t want to imbue with the urgency of unrealistic time allocation and reaching targets.  I was able to trust that, in time, those things would put themselves in place naturally (More on this in the next blog post!).

So instead of feeling bad about falling off the wagon, I took the time to recharge and regroup.  I even took the opportunity to alter my course a little.

I am so glad I did.

Today then I invite you to consider how you can use your down-time to make you a happier writer.  That’s right – a HAPPIER WRITER.

Because writing should be fun.  It should feel like soul food.  It should feel satisfying.

How do you keep yourself happy as a writer?  Leave a comment.  Let’s talk!

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Using “the Hero’s Journey” to tame your story

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

As I embark on the process of trying to get the trust of my story and draw it to me, I keep myself busy by reading around the subject of writing.  There are so many books there which extol the virtues of planning and setting rigorous writing targets.  I know that in time, when I actually put pen to paper, this guidance will be of use.

However at present I am sitting still and waiting for my story to present itself.  I have had a tendency to rush into new projects with all the joy and enthusiasm of a five year old at the art table.

I get easily burned and so I am learning to be still and rest.  Not just into my story but also into the whole idea of myself as Writer.

I have hidden from it for so long.  So afraid to truly embrace that this crazy stuuuuupid idea is not going away.

I think that is why the Hero’s journey a la Joseph Campbell by way of  Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
strikes such a chord with me.

Because the fact is that writing a novel is a journey too.  We must be heroic to face this challenge.  We must as writers step out of the ordinary world and accept the challenge.

Yes I can use the hero’s journey as a nifty little plotting tool, but perhaps I can also use it as a guide on my own journey through the writing process.  I know that I will have to tackle my demons if I am to write this story.  I know that there will be threshold guardians (possibly the bank manager….)  I will meet allies and make enemies (not you dearest reader, I hope!).

So for those of us who are embarking on this journey, here is the route that lies ahead:

1.  Ordinary World – you know, just trundling along finding distractions to make you feel normal and pay the bills.

2. Call to adventure – it’s the middle of the night and The Story arrives and won’t let you go.  Or  (as it was for me) you are washing the dishes and a whole world opens itself to you whispering “write me, write me…”

3.  Refusal of the Call – “me?  A novelist?  Don’t be stupid – I have responsibilities, jobs to do, things to finish off.  It’s not the right time.  I would if only I had….   I’m not good enough…. What’s the point…”

4.  Meeting with a mentor – website, youtube, library, amazon – mentors are everywhere these days, don’t you know!  Just take your pick.  WARNING: just the act of choosing a mentor can be a subtle form of procrastinating, perhaps??

5.  Crossing the first threshold – could be buying a new notebook and scribbling down your notes, could be opening up a new file on the computer and trying for those first few words.  The blank page is our first threshold as writers and the thing that makes it such a challenge is that the page represents all our fears, insecurities and limiting thoughts.

6.  Tests, allies, enemies – oh this will be a journey of stamina.  Perhaps we will meet allies through social media.  Perhaps the enemy is time, space, “real life”, stamina, discipline – you name it, they are all going to come out of the bag when you attempt a literary marathon.

7.  Approach to the Inner most cave – I imagine that this will probably hit at around 35 000 words when I suddenly feel uncertain as to whether I can even make 40000 words let alone 90000.  Here is where I will face my fears…

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

8.  The Ordeal  – do I continue or do I abandon?  Do I allow my fears as a writer to tell me to stop being so stupid and get a real job, or do I push through and use all my strength to finish the task?

9.  Reward – the first draft is done…. time for a coffee and a nice slice of cake.  Perhaps even a trip to the Office Supplies store???

10.  The road back –   editing, redrafting, printing off the first draft and feeling inordinately pleased with myself

11. Resurrection/ Climax – “this first draft is absolutely rubbish.  It needs completely redoing.  Why did I ever think that I could be anything?  Why did I waste my time?”

12.  Return with the elixir – publication?  the call from the agent?  hollywood battle for the rights?  multimillion dollar advance???   Or perhaps just the wondrous satisfaction of knowing that I finally finished my novel.  I battled with my demons.  I did it.  Little old me…

Who knows how my journey will turn out as a novelist.  But here is where I begin.  I am still in the ordinary world at present but I have had my call to action, mentors are presenting themselves to me.

The Threshold Awaits…..

What teachers have helped you at the start of your writing journey?  I would love some recommendations for great writing resources and inspiration.  Post a comment below.

Happy writing,

xxx

ps the book I was referring to can be found here. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition