I might not ever post this but I needed to write for a moment. Without the pressure of word-count or band-grades or weak words. Without worrying that I’m saying too much, that it’s not enough of a ‘hook’ or that my characters aren’t believable enough, that it’s not a good enough story – none of it matters.
I haven’t written on here in a while, so consumed by everything else but writing here feels like home. I have no idea where this post will go but it’s my own truth and I’ve realised over the last few months that that’s the only story that will matter to me. I have 12 days left of the first year of my Master’s degree. It’s been bloody difficult – I should have known, really. I have sat at my computer for six hours on a Saturday after a week working full-time. I’m staring blankly at my work in progress novel and I feel lost, just like I did for the last story I wrote and the one before that. Each time I feel like I’m getting somewhere, I hit a wall and have no idea how to return to the idea or to get it over the finishing line.
I have a story to tell and the best of them aren’t made up stories about character’s that I struggle to believe in or scenes that I can’t visualise. The stories I have, from the past 28 years are stored in the corners of my mind, waiting to be told. The trauma, the laughs, the love, the loss, the peaks, the pits, the adventures, the dull days. I have a weird inkling that it could all be worth telling and I can’t shake it. Fiction doesn’t compare anymore, as much as I love reading it.
Maybe I’m not that great at writing fiction or maybe it’s not my time yet – I’m okay with that. I feel excited for the next year to move on from fiction and feel at home with what I’m good at, where I’m comfortable.
For now though, I’, 2000 words in and have 3000 words left to write (that’s if I don’t have to rip it all up and start again) I don’t yet know how I’m getting through it but here’s a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. I’m hoping that by writing them here, they might kick me into motion.
Take a break
I’ve probably taken too many, but if stuck on something – walk away from it, go for a walk, do the cleaning, chat to a friend, cuddle the dog, then come back to it. Sometimes that’ll work, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not always the right time to write but the trick is that once you’ve found it, stick with it.
If you feel stuck and can’t shake it, you must have taken a wrong turn at some point. Go back to your plan and re-plan it. Print out your WIP and scribble over it, start a new blank document and free write, then go back and pull out all the best bits to see if you have anything worth salvaging. There’s lots of ways to take a step back and reassess your work but it’s important you wipe the slate clean. Be prepared to kill your own darlings.
Pick the right soundtrack
Sometimes the TV in the background works, other days you need Taylor Swift’s Folklore album on repeat. Find what works and go with it.
Choose the right spot
I have a writing spot – two actually. The first is in bed, first thing in the morning with a coffee, often in the dark. The second is at my dining room table, watching the world from outside the window, candle on, flowers blooming, endless good snacks. If you’re gonna be there all day, you might as well make it a good’un. If you’re not inspired by your spot, find a new one.
Share with a friend
If you’ve hit a wall, share your work with a friend that you trust. The outside feedback can help spur you on, provide new ideas or tell you where you’re going wrong, all helping to get you back on track.
I struggle with this one a lot. Too worried about what I’m writing, overanalysing every next step, thinking that whatever I write will not be good enough. Truth is, if you just write, you have at least got words to edit the shit out of. You can polish a turd but you can’t polish a blank screen (as they famously say…)
In other words, just get on with it. That’s the crux of it really, isn’t it?
I’ll get there, I know I will – it will just be a veeeeery slow burn.
Bring on the 26th when I’ll be handing my final fiction piece in and having a very large glass of wine (or bottle)
I probably won’t catch up with you until then, so sending all the love whilst I’m away.