The Writer’s New Groove
*title inspired by watching The Emperor’s New Groove with my little guy.
I’ve recently gotten back into writing after quite a bit of time off and more than a few false starts. Let me tell ya, managing a store and raising a son does not leave a ton of time for activities. However, after getting through the stress of holiday I could tell it had taken its toll on me. I was constantly irritable and exhausted and found myself unable to give my family the best version of me. Something needed to change.
Thats when I remembered the advice I got from a therapist during the most stressful few months of my life (I proposed to Amanda, got promoted to store manager, we bought a house, were planning our wedding, and I was producing comedy shows). When I told her everything I had going on in my life, she asked me what I was doing for myself and—obviously—the answer was nothing. She told me I needed to make time for myself to do things that were just for me—reading, writing, playing guitar. Once I started doing that, my stress levels went down and I started feeling better.
So, this time I recognized the problem, albeit really late and only once Amanda pointed it out, and decided I need to pick up writing again. As I mentioned before, I’ve tried writing a few times since having my son and each time I experienced false starts. I would get excited about a project and then life would get in the way and I’d get discouraged. I knew that I wanted this time to be different. To help myself gear up for writing, I began listen to the Writing Excuses podcast and getting inspiration from that. Then, I discovered Brandon Sanderson has videos of his entire Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy class from 2016 on YouTube. Going through each of those lectures gave me a lot of additional tools to help plan out my project and feel confident going back into writing. Through Writing Excuses, Brandon Sanderson lectures, and the 7 Point Story Structure lectures by Dan Wells, I was able to pinpoint some of the pitfalls common in my writing process.
1) I come up with fun premises that I’m excited to explore, but I don’t give appropriate attention to figuring out a good resolution to my story. I end up abandoning stories halfway through because I don’t know where I’m going and can’t write toward a satisfiying ending.
2) I don’t fully flesh out the side stories I come up and therefor have trouble weaving them into the main narrative.
My solution? Outlining! I spent about two, maybe three, weeks outlining my story in depth I gave myself permission to do prework and accept that sitting in front of a computer daydreaming IS actually writing. Putting words on the page is the most visibly proof that writing has taken place, but there is a lot that goes into a story before putting words on the page. And because my writing time is so limited, I need to be able to make the most of that time. By doing a lot of prework, I help ensure that my writing time is actually productive.
So far, my new approach has paid off. I’ve been able to write almost every day and I am excited about it rather than feeling like it’s an obligation. Writing is fun again and I couldn’t be happier.