Thursday, January 12, 2012

Funktastic New Year

Hello blog and patient readers, 

I’ve been neglecting you a bit (and Twitter, for that matter, but I made no promises to that little bird when I reluctantly signed up) and I’m not entirely sure why. Something about having to reboot after holiday travels, or struggling to figure out what to do about my writing, or struggling to figure out what to do about everything else.

The truth is, I was in danger of starting 2012 in an entirely unproductive funk.* And the funk was certainly real enough, and I have a feeling it’s lurking overhead waiting to strike again, but I'm still managing to write through it. It hasn't been amazing progress, but it's been progress all the same. In case you find yourself in a similar position, and as a handy reminder for myself, I thought I'd share what seems to be working for me:

Multiple projects. Because some days I just cannot force myself to work on my WIP; the mere thought makes me twitchy, or I’m so stuck on a plot point that I’ll spend the entire writing time staring around the room. I need to have a second project in my pocket. Since juggling two novels tends to frazzle my brain (heck, at this point figuring out one novel is frazzling my brain), my other project is usually a short story. If I was only working on short stories, I’d feel the urge to work on something longer. Being able to bounce back and forth is the only reason I’ve been able to write consistently.  

Writing Not-Quite-Crap. I know the most common advice for this kind of funk is “Just keep writing no matter what, even if you think it’s crap.” I embrace that philosophy for first drafts, but it’s harder to do in a rewrite draft, because I feel like I should have gotten the really poor stuff out of my system already. My extra-cranky inner editor agrees, of course, so if I only wrote crap it would just send me deeper into an I Suck Funk. So I’ve compromised, trying to write well and editing as I go, but not grinding to a halt just because I can’t find the perfect phrase. 

Familiar Inspiration. For me, it’s returning to Laini Taylor’s mini-blog Not for Robots, which you should read right now if you haven’t. Her descriptions of the exhilarating jungle of a first draft or the SNICK of a plot puzzle piece fitting perfectly always make me excited about figuring out the intricacies of my plot rather than terrified and exhausted by its messiness. And if I need more, I have King’s On Writing and a shelf of other old friends.

Organized Challenges. I’m pathetically predictable, really: even in a funk, I will stubbornly rise to whatever challenge I’ve announced publicly for myself. Just before the new year I posted some goals under my new Writing tab, and I also have a calendar in my office where I mark whether I've written every day. Here's the short version of my overall goals (since more publicizing = more motivation for me):

- I’m doing Write 1 Sub 1 again. I don’t think the weekly challenge is feasible for the way I write, so officially I’m sticking with the monthly challenge, but I’d actually like to submit at least two stories per month (though I’m letting myself use a Twitter-length or rewritten story for the second one). So far I have one story submitted and another in the pieces-with-potential stage, so things are looking up. 

- I also posted a goal schedule for my novel WIP under the Writing tab. Right now the story is mostly in the outlining stage since I’m starting another complete rewrite, and honestly it’s not going very well. I'm going to follow my advice and hope that reading a bit of plotting instruction and inspiration will get me on the right track today.

Any challenges, funks, or advice you'd like to share?

*Describing my state as a funk actually helps me feel better, because it doesn't make me think of Webster's "cowering fear" or "state of depression," or even a style of music. It reminds me of my first frisbee team:

It's a good reminder that language is a quirky, lovely thing, and that there's always an upside.


  1. I've been dealing with that post-holiday writing funk as well. Sounds like your plugging your way through the best you can! Goals are good. Moving through it is good. The best advice I can offer is that writing should be fun. When it's not, take a break until you feel the pull to come back. Good luck to you!

  2. So true, Suze. That's another reason I have more than one project going - I need to be writing about a story that excites me. Hopefully I can keep the fun in writing in general too.

    Best of luck with your funk-breaking as well!

  3. Oh, I know the Funk - or something similar - all too well. But you're definitely on track with your goals and plans.

    When I did the monthly version of W1S1 last year, I ended up writing one new story a month, sometimes two or one new one and a rewrite of an old one. And let me say, it was a pleasure to look back and see how much I accomplished.

    Don't get me started on the novel - I'm working on the one I did for Camp Nano and as a rebel for this past NaNo - and it's STILL just a big mess. But my goal is to have it totally done/polished by July. We'll see.

    Now, I've got songs with the word funk/funky drifting through my mind. Sigh. It's going to be that kind of day.

  4. I love love love NOT FOR ROBOTS. I need to take a gander at that again. So helpful.

    I am super impressed with the whole W1S1 thing. I don't know if I could do it... then again, I've never *tried.* Maybe I should! Have you heard of It's a pretty fun way to generate material.

  5. Madeline: Glad to hear we're writing short stories and slogging through our Nano messes on similar timelines. Fingers crossed for both of us!

    Julie: I'd definitely recommend the W1S1 monthly Light Ray. I don't know how the weekly writers do it either, quite frankly! And I've heard of but haven't really looked into it, so thanks for the tip!

  6. I think it's normal to have a little bit of a downtime after the insanity of the holidays. Hard to get the brain focused on completing normal tasks.

    Reading books on writing always gets me going. Kinda triggers my "let's do this" mentality.

    1. Agreed! Reading some writing books and blogs definitely helps.

      [Also, I'm trying out the new nested comments feature here... I'm so excited that Blogger FINALLY offers it!]