Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bust Out Of Your Box!

Post by NCW Director Kerrie Flanagan

The conference is over.
Life is settling back down.
But I am still finding it a challenge to sit down and write blog posts.

A month ago I blamed it on the lack of time because of how busy I was putting on the conference. But now what. The only thing I am up against is a lack of motivation and inspiration, which in my mind are pretty lame excuses.

I was talking to fellow writer and NCW member, Tim Northburg about this and he said he had been feeling the same way until someone told him to get out of the box.

Hmm...Get out of the box?

We talked a bit more and I realized, I had shoved myself into a box. A box that told me everything I write should be perfect, brilliant, and it should impact readers in such a way that they have an out-of-body, spiritual experience every time they read my work.

That's a lot of pressure for one writer--a lot of self-induced pressure. So I am here to announce that as of today, I am busting out of this small, restrictive box and opening up myself to the possibilities all around me.

I will write from the heart,
I will write about things that make me sad, angry or perplexed,
I will write about amazing things I learn,
I will write about what ever I want.
Because after all, isn't that what writers do?

What are you going to do to bust our of your box?


Eric W. Trant said...

I've been boxed up for a few weeks. I finished a long piece -- 35kw, I'm not sure you'd call it a novel -- and a couple of short stories, and now I'm aching to get back into a novel.

One of the ways I bust out is this: READ GREAT BOOKS!

Read something inspiring. If I'm really stuck, I'll type-copy the page. By that I mean I'll read a few paragraphs, and then try to write it out like the author wrote it.

Blogging helps. Journaling helps, but neither of those are what I'd call writing. Sure, you bump out some words, but you're not developing a story and fleshing out characters and running them down the yellow-plot road, heidi hey heidi ho.

In the end, to bust bust BUST out, I start logging random words, bits of sentences, fragments, ideas, let the worms talk to me and see what they have to say.

That's all you can do, isn't it, if you've been boxed up. Let them worms dig and see what pops up.

- Eric

Jon Paul said...

Kerrie--I've been feeling the same way lately.

I think the further we get down the writing road, the more susceptible we are to fear of failure, and as you point out, feeling like we have to get it right the first time.

When I was a much younger writer, I felt free to just throw words on the page--to play!--and so I feel like I need to get back to that. Now, and to remember that lesson in the future.

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Kay said...

I got out of my box by consigning my WIP into My Documents. Worked for me. I'm deep into a project I hadn't thought about in months.

Maybe, jumping out of boxes is a writer's form of spring fever.

Eric W. Trant said...

JP makes a great point: "When I was a much younger writer, I felt free to just throw words on the page--to play!"

I could do that before, too. Now I have higher standards, more patience, a deeper understanding of what's needed for the story, realize I'm still learning, and that it's well-worth the wait to go a bit slower than faster.

That said, I do miss the blissful days of slugging out 120,000wds and not worrying about plot, char development, POV, passives, sub-plots, and so forth.

Play by ear and bang those drums, forget about making music!

- Eric

Lisa_Gibson said...

I'm doing Script Frenzy now (which is way outside my box). I'm using the screenplay as a skeleton for my YA novel once I'm done. I try to shake things up periodically. Keeps me awake! ;) Sometimes, if I've thought of great blog articles, I'll write them and hold them in a folder to release later when I'm outta' ideas.

Kerrie said...

Eric-I agree that reading books can help a lot. I am not sure I agree with you though, that journaling and blogging aren't really writing. I do think that both of these avenues are a great way to strengthen your writing chops.
Jon-we totally seem to be on the same wave length. Getting back to playing with words is a great idea.
Kay-Going over past works? :-)
Lisa-writing a script first is a big step out of the box.
Thanks everyone for your comments. Happy Writing!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I jumped out of my box by signing up for a blogger friend's blog challenge for the month of April -- we're blogging topics from A to Z. It's a kind of writing prompt that's making me think about my posts in a different way (plus I've picked up a bunch of new followers and a lot more traffic).

Jenny S. said...

I feel boxed up when I'm endlessly revising my work. The only way out is to write something new...which I then endlessly revise :-)

Thanks, Kerrie, for the reminder that honest writing is more important than perfect writing.

Kerrie said...

Pat-love the A-Z idea.
Jenny-you always make me laugh. :-)

Wordy said...

Just making myself sit down and write, even if I'm sure that what's going to come out is crap, does the trick. Also, letting myself write incompletely helps; for example, just writing the dialogue in a scene, or just writing a description of something.

T.A. Northburg said...

Cool! I think that is great that you are getting out of the box! I am looking forward to it!

Jon Paul said...

Kerrie--maybe it's a little time-late, but I liked this so much, I included it in my link love post today. Thanks for putting it up.

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