Thursday, June 18, 2009

Slowing Down

I have once more reached a strange place in my writing journey. This writing caper seems to be full of such oubliettes.

With the decision to withdraw from my studies, I suddenly feel like all the pressure is off, and I'm now moving along at a very mundane pace, as if sludging through molasses up to my knees. (Having done nothing but edit for the last three weeks hasn't helped)

It's only to my knees because my head hasn't switched off. I'm still mulling over what I want to write for my New Bedlam submission, and I'm still pondering bits about my possible serial short story, but I'm not actually writing. I'm just doing a lot of thinking about it.

To give me a kick in the pants, this is my plan of attack:

I'm going to absorb Alexandra Sokoloff's brilliant breakdown of Act One of The Mist. Then I'm going to watch the movie with a pen in hand, pad poised, and pull it apart for myself.

I also need to read Jeremy's book which I've been carrying around for days now and not made time for. And write the review for it. I think I need to rededicate one day a week to nothing but reading. At the moment, I seem to do it in huge chunks. Feast or famine, instead of a steady continuation.

Then I'm going to work hard on the first installment of my serial story.

By that time, July will be here and I can read the second installment of the New Bedlam zine. This should solidify what I need to accomplish with my submission idea. I will then work hard at getting that right.

I'm not planning any further than that, because I have no idea what will come up between now and then. I still have lots of books to read and review so that will be in there somewhere, and I need a stand-alone short story to submit to Necrotic Tissue - but the two stories I submitted to the AHWA competitions should be back by then, and if God's Piscatorial Church doesn't gain publication through that avenue, then it would be a good candidate for NT.

So tell me, when things slow down in your writing, apart from just sitting in the chair and making yourself work, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing? Do you hike like KC, build like Jamie, or surf YouTube for Korean Boy bands like Nat? Maybe you have another suggestion?

By the by, I was reading through old emails sent to me by Wordsmith (an excellent resource). At the bottom of the email, they include a thought for the day. Many emails ago, this one seriously appealed to me and once more jumped up and down in the front of my brain when I reread it:

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. -Anton Chekhov, short-story writer and dramatist (1860-1904)

Great advice to write by.

So fill up the comments with how you rekindle the flame of inspiration, and keep Chekhov in mind as you write.

Good luck with your submissions



  1. I’m a big fan of the 70’s portmanteau films (The Vault of Horror; The House that Dripped Blood; Asylum etc) and just recently I’ve been re-visiting these. OK, they’re dated and a little cheesy, but many of them were written by Robert Bloch, so they have a great pedigree behind them.

    I have great memories of watching these (and many others) on the horror double-bill on TV as a kid.

    In many ways it was these, as well as shows like the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery (and countless books, of course) that made me want to tell stories when I grew up.

    Now and then, if I’m stuck in a writing rut or generally thinking ‘why bother?’ I just need a reminder of that initial spark.

  2. Very true. I'm often reminding people to revist the all-spark - I mean the initial spark, recapture that first feeling.

    Good suggestion.

    Sorry - I watched Transformers the other day and was somewhat smitten with the leading lady, so bits of the film seem to be stuck in my head at the moment.

  3. LRB - I love those old Amicus films. Asylum is a clear favourite.

    I'm putting my ancient notebooks of ideas onto a (tiddly)wiki and tagging everything. I'm only really leaving out the VERY bad or already done to death ideas. Not so much call for Cold War stories these days.

    Just entering all this is giving me ideas for further stories, but what I really want to do, when I've finished, is start comparing and contrasting different tags and see what sparks off each other.

    I love doing this sort of thing. It's the actual writing I find difficult.

  4. I stuff my head with information. National Geographic, Smithsonian, History Channel, Discovery Channel, that nonfiction book I've been meaning to read, anything. And reading-- like you say-- some good fiction. Watching movies I love helps too, particularly if they're beautiful.

    Pretty much the same as you, I guess!

  5. When not watching, listening to, or otherwise focusing my time on Korean Boy Bands, I have other tricks. No, really!

    1. Put MP3 player on shuffle and do something mindless (walk, nap, etc).

    2. Pick an actor/singer and google pictures of them. Taken out of context, the pictures can trigger ideas for characters and/or plots.

    3. Find something confusing and try to make sense of it. Asking, "Why are those men in their underwear?" has led me to learn a lot about Japan.

  6. Anton - research and organizing stuff is one of the very best ways to procrastinate. We really do need to put butt in chair though.

    Katey - pretty much the same as millions of us.

    Nat - sorry. I didn't mean to imply boy bands are the total depths of your depravity, but point 3 kind of announced your immense variety to everyone anyway ;c)

  7. Reading a good book or watching a good movie inspires me. Music does too.

  8. Reading and horror movies tend to be the best source of inspiration for me, and perhaps ranting on my blog.

    But if I'm really hunting for new ideas, themes and/or messages to get me going a good political historical book or documentary works wonders to either piss me off at the state of the world or to inspire me with cool stories about fighting back.

  9. Oh you tease! x-P

    For me, I have two teenage daughters who seem to run the gamut of emotional insanity to the point I have daily doses of inspiration. Just watching the ping-ponging moods seems to be a great help.