Sometimes, when you write, you fight with yourself. Okay, maybe I’m the only one admitting it. Either way, sometimes writing is a battle of the strongest. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes, not so much. But I’ve discovered it’s not always a bad thing. Battling can lead to better writing, some growth as an author, and occasionally a reminder that you need to take a break. I can hear the laughter now. But trust me, sometimes you need to battle things out within you. It’s the only way to truly realize how far you are and how far you’ve gone. Not to mention, we writers, we’re not always right in the head.
Battles take many shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s the “I do not want to work today” battle. This one is common. It’s usually because the scene you want to do is not appealing to you or the muse you called in. Most of us face this battle at one time or another. I get to see it at least once a week on average. What normally tips me off that it’s coming is that I’ve not worked out how I want to do my next day’s work ahead of time. My family will tell you I am not a spontaneous person. They are like 90% correct. For years though, I was a pantster in my writing. I lived for the spontaneity of the muse. Oh, those were the days. Now, now I know better. Through the years, the battles were there because my organized side fought hard with the creative side. Yes, it was the Dark Side versus the Light side more often than not. In time, I learned that having some framework for my writing seemed to help my writing go faster, deeper, and it was easier to fix things in the long run. *holds up hand* No, those of you who have known me for years– you cannot say a WORD to me now. No. No.
The other battle is the “I’m overwhelmed at all I have to do”. This battle happens when you fall behind on your writing, your promo, your daily life, etc. I spent years in this battle. Years. Every time I faltered on my word count I wanted to maintain weekly, or something happened that pushed me back, this battle became larger in my mind. What I will tell you is this– do not look at this battle as something you must conquer as is. Breaking it down is the only way to dissolve most of the emotions that go into it. For me, I had to start again with my Flylady account. You’re staring– stop that. Flylady helps me to keep a list of chores to do for my home. I cross each one off the list as I get them done. Feeling in control helps me break this battle down. Knowing I can put X amount of time towards cleaning daily (it changes depending on what I’m doing for that day), helps me dedicate myself to whatever else needs doing. I try to plan out a few of my meals in advance for dinner– which ones are going in the crockpot, which ones I can a double batch, etc. This frees me up for evening writing sprints with other authors. The other thing is this– I learned to let go of the old crap I never finished. This was the hardest thing I had to acknowledge and accept. I, Cynnara Tregarth, had to let go that for years, I couldn’t live up to what I used to do in my writing. I was so overwhelmed because I hadn’t known I was breaking down. So, I had to forgive myself. Then I forgave myself for not wanting to carry the burden anymore and bringing it all forward. You need to do this too. Why? Because until you let go of what you can’t do because you’re behind– you will never catch up. Plus, sometimes, it’s okay to never catch up on things. They might be better let go, especially if it’s writing related. Start fresh. Start new. Begin again. Make your list of daily things–home, work, writing. Make them small. And I mean SMALL. Mine start out– Organize dinner menu items, clean bathroom, do errands (store, email, family), writing time (plotting scenes for story 1, do blog for Romance Lives Forever, check in with Camp Nano). Simple stuff I can check off each day. Blessed be the Evernote people- I think I love them. I have Evernote on my computer, my Nook HD+, and the laptop. I’ve got them synchronized so I can keep track of everything!
Another battle I’ve seen is the “What do I do now?” or “There’s so many to choose from” battle. This can be bad. *sighs* Oh, I am going through this battle right now. I’ve talked about how I’m ahead of the game right now this month for Camp Nano and for ROW80. In fact, I submitted both short stories once they were edited. So final notifications will be at the end of the year for both stories. Either way, I’m thrilled. They’re checked off on my Completed & Submitted List with PQR. So, I turned to Dawn Montgomery and asked her to help me with this battle. The reason is– with my disability, my ADD kicking is high. However, I also push myself too hard at times because of the battle before. I’ll try to run before I’m ready to walk. Plus, there’s that manic edge to my disability that I don’t talk about. It gets me through a lot of things, but the flipside is that I can get severely depressed when the manic ends. Sometimes, you need to back off this battle for a few days. Realize that you do have tons to choose from and rushing in is not the way to work it out. Cut yourself a bit of slack. Take a day or three off and relax, read, or reread some of your partially done stories to see which of them appeal to you more. It might be the way to make that decision. Dawn helped me tons because she helped me to weigh out the pros and cons of what I needed versus what I wanted. It helped ease the manic need to “do something NOW!”
“I want to do this, this, oh my gods, did you see this call?” battle. Been there, done that, came away bruise, battered and almost broken. It’s easy to get caught up when you have your plan and you want to work it. You need to make your writing goals. Which books (especially if you have series) need to be done during which quarter. You do need to be flexible for those times when you see a Call for Submission from publishers you work for or want to work with come out. Why? The opportunities that come with them are great- including the publicity they generate. That said, sometimes it’s like they wait to happen all at once. It’s an evil conspiracy to prevent us from writing for everybody! *laughs* Seriously, this one is a matter of learning how to be flexible with your schedule, knowing your writing capacity, and being able to work hard in a short amount of time so you can get things done if there isn’t a lot of leeway for a call you really want to do. Remember, you do not have to do every call that takes your fancy. No. Do not. Do those that will showcase your writing and your strengths, especially if it’s in the genres you write best. If you’re trying to break into a new genre, then prepare for it, don’t wait for the last minute. The battle then will be whether you can finish it or not.
The last battle is one that I find comes upon me every so often and it’s hard to shake. “You need time off. Don’t rush back to writing” battle. You’ve been overloaded. You’ve put out a few books, done edits, and basically ended some serious writing time very exhausted. So you took a vacation from writing. You read books, you watched movies. Spent time with the family, learning their names again. You glance at the computer a week later and that part of you sighs heavily because you should get back on track. It’s time to say goodbye to vacation. The other part is not ready yet. It wants more time off. You get a lot of negative feedback from your mind on how much you’ll suck if you try to write at this moment. That it’s so tired and exhausted, you won’t be able to read the gibberish that will hit the screen. This was me early this year. I started the year well, then once I lost my day job, things went up in the air. My mind tried to come to grips with this new paradigm shift and it stomped its foot and said, “No writing! No!” Basically, it demanded a vacation. I could have forced the issue– demanding we go back to work. Yet, I realized something important– this time, I mostly agreed with my muse. Something else was needed. So, I agreed we could put off writing for a bit longer, but in turn, we had to do something writing related. The negotiation here is that you find that trade-off. For me, it was reading writing craft books that I had acquired but hadn’t read yet. Lots of them. So, we agreed. For every fun fiction book, I had to read two craft books. This kind of thing works because after a while, the muse starts getting twitchy. It wants to put the new things its embedded into itself to work. It wants to see how to work the new stuff. It worked for me. After a month or so, I was ready to take the plunge into writing again– this time with some new tools and techniques to help write smarter and better.
Battling yourself and your muse will never go away. Oh, how I wish that were the case. That said, you can take simple steps to reduce the friction when the battles come up. First- figure out what the battle truly is over. Once you know it’s because you hate the scene you’re working on, move to another scene or do some scene card work until you like the scene again. Shift that balance so your battle doesn’t grow exponentially. Second– make lists to help you out when battles grow. Sometimes, when you break the battle down to the core components, you notice things that pop up over and again. Those are the things you need to concentrate on first. You might notice they’re internal issues or that they’re time issue. Work on those first- giving yourself the opportunity to forgive the past and move forward with a clean slate starting today. Finally, give yourself down time. You need it. But find that balance between too little and too much. Sometimes, you can cajole yourself with downtime by allowing yourself to catch up on the latest fiction and nonfiction books. It helps you professionally and you feel refreshed to write again. Other times, you need to consider if perhaps you’re burning out because you’ve done too much too fast. You also might be hitting a growth spurt in your writing. Those hurt, yet once they’re done, you’re flying high again. So battling happens, but how you approach the battle will tell you who wins in the end– let it be you.
ROW80 update– Edited and submitted both my short stories. *does happy dance* Next up- plotting 2 stories for submission by Oct and Nov. Once they’re plotted, they’ll be written. That’s the plan. Go me, go me! See, I’m my own cheering section for the moment. LOL