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Two Speeds

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by A. E. Lowan, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    I've recently come to the conclusion that I have two writing speeds: inspired and stuck. Most of the time I'm stuck, which ranges from pulling words like teeth to a full stop while I stare at the screen.

    I have my methods for working through stuck periods. Playing with my Slinky while I think, pacing, listening to music, etc. It helps to squeeze out the words. But I'd really like to spend more time inspired, especially now as I am on deadline. (I need to get the final three chapters of Faerie Rising finished by Christmas.) My last inspired period I wrote three chapters in two weeks.

    And right now I'm stuck. Again.

    How do you guys find inspiration? I've heard Lin-Manuel Miranda describe it as getting the star in Super Mario: for that few minutes you're invincible. I really could use a star right about now!
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I don't believe in inspiration. More accurately, I don't think I've experienced. I get ideas. I get excited. But these things happen with such randomness, I don't go looking for them.

    Sometimes the writing is easy, sometimes the writing barely happens at all. But I have a third speed. I'm in it most of the time. It's trudge speed. It's moving with the speed and grace of a VW bus with bad belts and a dirty carburetor. But it gets me there. I'm usually pretty tired, thoroughly fed up, and ready to sell the bus, but it gets me there.

    I do believe cultivating a close relationship with trudge speed is a good thing overall. It makes the mystical prosaic. It puts the tools firmly in my hands, and shows the door to the Muse. She, bless her, is more like an old Triumph--either goes like the wind, or doesn't go at all, and rarely gets me to my destination.
    A. E. Lowan and Heliotrope like this.
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    I have a few strategies:

    1) I have to remove myself from distractions. I have two kids and a tiny house. I have no where to hide lol. So Monday nights is Mommy's Coffee shop night. I leave around 6pm, hubby does dinner and baths and bed. I get home at 10. I have a nice coffee shop that lets me sit for four solid hours for the price of a latte. i get most of my drafting done there, then I tweak during the week.

    2) Word counts. Having word count goals is helpful. 1000 words/day is workable for me. I just freewrite and shut my editor off. She can show up later.

    3) Positive feedback. I have three amazing crit partners who read my stuff. When they send feedback I highlight all the positive things they say and save it as a list in a seperate file. When I'm feeling down I just read the good stuff and it reminds me I'm not all crap.
    Gribba, skip.knox and A. E. Lowan like this.
  4. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    I can recognize those two speeds: moreover my gear ratio is abysmal. I might genuinely be the slowest, worst-producing writer on this forum. I think we ought to put it to a survey, so I can at least say I achieved that.

    I've tried to forswear inspiration, but there's something in there that isn't mystical: confidence, or optimism, maybe. Most of the time, like right now, I don't even want to look my story in the face--its ugly, demented face. Duty can't hold me to something that awful. My brain wriggles away at any chance of distraction.

    How does it turn around? Because I do get writing done sometimes, fantastical as that seems. Not sure. Time, separation, imagination papering over the cracks... I need to learn how to summon it, or merely form a habit. I've been trying to form a habit for fifteen years. Probably not going to happen.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  5. Jackarandajam

    Jackarandajam Troubadour

    Breaking the scene down into plot relevant goals helps me a lot.

    Often, when I'm stuck like that, I realize eventually that I'm writing filler; trying to get from plot-point to plot-point with a block of dialogue that im just bridging with.

    Sometimes I can pick something useful for that particular block of words, like creating/revealing tension/backstory, and I pick up a lot of speed. I love the story and I want to tell it; usually when I can't or don't feel like it, it's because I'm not telling the story, and my subconscious is bored.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  6. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi, A.E. Lowan. It's good to see you back on the forums. If you ever want to do word sprints hit me up in PM or chat. Those are what I use to get out of the writing funk.

    And it happens to all of us. It seems like many folks here go through productive periods and not-so-productive ones. What I've found most helpful has been to start with small goals and progress to bigger ones.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  7. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    It's okay. There's no one right way to do any of this, only the way that works for you.
  8. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I've tried to answer this several times... but finally decided it wasn't possible. I used to be an inspiration writer... and finsihed a few novels in a couple decades. Now I just write. 150k novel (after trimmed) in about 6 months. Mind over writer's block and inspired writing... they don't exist. There is only writing, sometimes it stutters and sometimes it flows. I stick on my "creative white noise" (Enigma music) and write, I don't pay attention to anything else. And that's if I am out of habit, in habit, I can write with kids, dogs, tv, whatever.

    When stuttering, I step back and read my work and plow forward in rhythm. That's really the best I can offer for unsticking the brain.

    My suggestion: the next time you are writing inspired, forget about the inspiration and don't stop writing daily. Just go.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  9. Bvboozell

    Bvboozell Acolyte

    I recently went from writing a novel in three months to not being able to writing anything at all for four. I'm just now getting back into it, and it's coming slowly. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to write something, even if it's anything at all, or you'll be waiting for inspiration forever. Unfortunately, I'm one of those writers who hardly ever finds inspiration. I usually just sit down and force myself to write for a few hours. Doesn't work for everyone, but if I waited around or tried to find inspiration I'd never write.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  10. Jordan R Murray

    Jordan R Murray Acolyte

    I would absolutely agree with this. Be honest with yourself and think about those last three chapters. What do you know you want to put in them? Do you know how your book will end? What do you not know - is a certain character or plot point difficult to describe or figure out?

    Often, I find my blocks surround my unwillingness to face something in my own writing that I've committed to do. Sometimes that is the death of a character I like. Sometimes, it's the fact that I don't know what happens next and I lose track of where I left off in the story. By focusing on what you want to achieve in the plot - little by little to start, you can recharge your energies and dive back into things.

    Another suggestion: Go find a part of the story you really like but haven't seen in awhile. Read it. Reacquaint yourself. Smile, and remember why you wrote the darn thing to begin with. It can help a lot when you're frustrated to remember that it will all turn out well in the end.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.

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