Jim Butcher talks about the great swampy middle of despair (maybe he didn't say "despair," I might have put that in) that is the center-slog of every book.
I find that, every project I do, I get a fit of the 'blahs.' That first white-hot passion I had for it has evaporated like the morning dew after the sun glares at it for a bit.
In my case the sun would be the scorching light of reason--not a terribly helpful thing when you're belching (vomiting?) out a zero draft.
When I get an entrenched case of the blahs--when I feel singularly unenthusiastic about my WIP and start dreaming about how lovely it would be to write a short story, or a piece of flash fiction, or perhaps paint a picture or begin a gardening project or do absolutely anything unrelated to my WIP--then I know I'm in trouble.
For me, here's the key: Don't give in. This is butt-in-chair time.
Besides, to be honest, I've already spent the last day or two cleaning, gardening, puttering--doing anything but what I need to be doing.
Writing Enthusiasm: 5 Ways To Coax It Back
So. Here are five things I've tried in the past that helped me regain a sense of excitement, of enthusiasm, for my WIP:
1. Change the medium.
If I have been typing, I'll switch to writing longhand, or vice versa.
It doesn't work for me, but some authors like to pace and speak their story into a voice recorder.
Programs such as Dragon Dictate can (after training) transcribe even a lengthy audiofile in minutes.
For the dragon averse, it can be an interesting (though time-consuming) experience to transcribe the file yourself. (Elizabeth S. Craig writes about this here: Voice Recording as a Writing Tool.)
2. Change the location.
I'm fortunate. I have an office and, though it's a sliver of a room with a desk barely deep enough to fit my laptop, it provides a sanctuary, a respite, from the rest of the world. When I close my door I'm sequestered and free to write.
(Theoretically. My cats see it differently. They think of my office time more as quality nap time. My kitty insists on either lying atop me or my chair. My choice. These days I'm using one of the hard plastic kitchen chairs while my furry overlord naps on an ergonomic miracle of science. But I digress.)
As wonderful as a writing space may be, writing in the same place day after day can be confining. Stultifying. Stagnating.
Sometimes the simple act of moving--even just getting up from my chair and walking through the empty rooms of my apartment, drinking in the small sounds that hide behind the silence, can help. The hum of electronics, the babble of the neighbour's six month old as she plays on the lawn, the rattle of pots as lunch is prepared, the throaty whir of the fridge as it clicks on beside me, these sounds become a chorus.
I've moved from my office to the kitchen table and that simple act seems to have roused my muse. (Perhaps. * Knock on wood. *)
3. Change of style.
Sometimes I'll start a project with a certain feeling and then--perhaps as I find more out about the story, as it grows within me--the story will assert itself and that feeling shifts, changes. The writing no longer feels alive. Vibrant. The story demands changes. I find that if I don't heed this demand the writing can grind to a halt.
For example, perhaps I've (once again) been seduced by Ray Bradbury's language in Something Wicked This Way Comes and--though spring unfolds around me, bursting with life and possibility--I live in the fall and see red and yellow leaves dancing with the wind and feel the electricity of change, of death, prickling along my skin, making me want to laugh and take long walks through oceans of night.
And then things change. I find out more about my story. My hero loses her love of night and dead leaves and starts cracking jokes. She's hard-as-nails and long soulful descriptions--though at times irresistible--feel out of place.
4. Do (another) outline.
If you're anything like me, sometimes the vanishing of enthusiasm heralds the emergence of a plot hole. Or, generally, something that's not right with the story. Your muse knows this but your brain is playing catch-up.
I find that sometimes putting aside my current outline and re-doing it from scratch helps. Sometimes I've changed something and muddled the logical flow but haven't realized it yet.
Or, if you haven't created an outline for your story--even a bare bones one--perhaps now is the time!
When I began this post I had the writing blahs but now feel energized. The simple act of writing something (Anything!) has the power to crack through the ice of disenchantment and help one fall in love with their project again.
Or, failing that, at least allow you to keep on keeping on.
I'll end with my favorite writing aid, created by Jim C. Hines:
|From post Comic Amusement by Jim C. Hines. |
The illustration is also by Jim C. Hines.
(By the way, Jim Butcher's latest book Skin Game--from his incredibly awesome Dresden Files series--went on sale yesterday. I'm a huge Harry fan, so thought I'd mention it. And, yes, pun intended. ;)
Photo credit: "flying" by Robert Couse-Baker under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.