Writing: Finding Motivation when all you want to do is the ‘P’ word. 

Procrastinate, that is. Mind you, we don’t normally wake up in the morning saying ‘Hey, I know what I’m gonna do today. And that is do everything else but the thing I should do.’ No, unfortunately it’s the opposite. With the dawning of our day, be it 5AM in the morning (if you are an early bird), or closer to midday, we all wake up thinking, ‘Today is the day. Today is it. I’m gonna do it!’ And about halfway out of bed, you forget your pledge and slip into slippery slopes of getting distracted by this and that, a stray thought that leads you to do one thing after the other till you realize the whole day has been spent and you have slithered back into bed feeling disappointed. Of course, in that last heroic stance you think maybe you should just start that piece now. Just a matter of stretching over and grabbing your tools. But then again, who is going to sleep for you? Right?

I have been fighting and failing to write. Procrastination always gets in the bloody way! And that got me thinking, what is it about this year that has proven to be such a challenge? (Of which there have been a few valid distractions.) Most years I pump out at least a book, and a few scripts, not to mention the many odd things I post here. But 2016 has been that whimsical year. September. Well hello there, how do you do? It’s almost gone too. Meaning only a quarter of the year is left and so much more to write.
Nowadays, I troll social media for inspiration, something to drive me to write. When once I used to be able to write any random thing, this year, despite the many quotes and prompts pinned on Pinterest, my interest in writing as much as I used has dwindled. I’m a sporadic writer. So sporadic indeed that it’s actually started to really bug me. And bug me it does, hence this article.

Every writer has to get in the right headspace to write. Everyone. I know as writers we evolve over time, develop our styles, our voices, our routine. However, what most people won’t admit to is, we evolve into creatures of habit, we seek out comfort zones that will put us in the mood for writing straight away. And these spaces, these sanctuary hold great power over us. It becomes sacred, and the thought of writing else become less and less welcomed.

My space used to be cafes, but mostly I could write anywhere once a sentence or two were spelt. Nowadays, it feels as if something inside is calling for a dedicated writing space. Too long have I gone without that corner sofa in a humming cafe, that isolated-yet-I’m-still-in-public feeling that allowed me to people watch at a safe distance. Writing space. Think about that. It could be your room. It could be that park across the road from work, or the cafe down a couple go blocks. Or it could just be a piece of music that sets your mood.

The point is, find motivation. Do whatever it takes to kick start that brain of yours. Once you start it, it will do its thing. Sometimes, I write a simple micro poetry and post it on Twitter to the same satisfaction I get if I had written a whole chapter for my current work-in-progress (which of course I have quite a few).

Procrastination is a habit my dears. A terrible habit. One that should come with a warning label; ‘Beware! Distractions may cause delay in achievement of ones happiness and desires!’

Or something to that effect. Today’s motivation has been this effort to psyche myself up. From tomorrow, or there off, here is hoping that I can kick some ‘P’ butt and get on with what I need to do. No buts, no ifs. Think of the future. Think of your goal. And keep that gaol in mind. What’s mine for the rest of the year? Finish the book, and a rewrite a script.

There. I said it. 3 months, plenty of distractions. Can I do it? I sure hope so. At least, I’d like to think I’ll try.

Fingers are crossed. So crossed.

Writing: The challenges of becoming a ‘Writer’

I read the ‘Writer’s Manifesto’ on my Facebook feed today and had to share it with you. It has everything to do with what I’m talking about today, if not more.

The challenges of becoming a ‘Writer’
It’s an elusive club filled with so many members we aspire to be like. But how do we get in, and what’s playing the big bad guy in our lives that keeps making us push against the door when it says pull?

The answer to that question? I have no freaking idea. I’m one of those staring into the club through the glass door wondering how to get in. But, I have a theory. A string of thoughts rather that may have been thought by you already, about why it is that becoming a writer is harder than thinking about become a surgeon? (Which I have thought about once very briefly.) Not hard in the sense that we have to study such a complex and thorough subject for years but because at least in deciding you want to be a surgeon, or an engineer, or teacher etc (many more profession), the plan is laid out. You go through the set plan, through a University, you graduate, and you are ready for the workplace. Soon you get hired as a junior staff and then you’re in the club of your choice.

Writing. There is simply no clear plan for us to follow. Yeah, sure, we can go to university and get a degree in creative writing, but then we have to show them our work before we even get a chance to grovel for work experience.
But that’s a problem for later on. The initial problem we face is ourselves. Are we doing all we can to get qualified for this club? Are we going about it the right way? After all submitting our works we think are grand is still not going to get it picked up by a publishing house.

Firstly, we gotta write! We have to write, and not things that have already been written. Yes, pretty much every story has already been told but we have to find a way to make it new, spruce it up etc. The indicator of this is that when we are excited by the story itself, not about writing it because their must be someone out there who would want to read it. Are we EXCITED? If yes, we must go ahead and write that darn thing. If we are not, the. We must stop! Immediately. Take time, walk away and find another story that inspires us regardless of how long you already spent on one story.

Secondly, write it with dedication. We must make a promise to ourselves and give ourselves a deadline. Finish that thing first and worry about the mistakes later. If we are not good at editing (I certainly am not) that’s what other professional editors are for. Just get the story on the page, make it pulse, and then read it front to back. Yes, we must read our own work!

If we survive this process, better yet if the Story survives this, then send it to be proofread.

Sometimes, we are our own obstacles. We harbor doubts and fears that hold us back. Such was my case. I held onto a finished book for years because I feared people’s reaction to it. What if they thought it was a stupid story? What if they think I write like a child? What if? What if? So many of them. Eventually I started doubting whether I truly wanted to be an author? Was I ready to be studied and questioned by people?

The answer was not in these questions. The answer was in whether this was something I really wanted. And yes, it was. Is it for you?

Nowadays, I battle other things, like study, filmmaking, freelance work, job hunt amongst preparing the next book for release as well as writing various scripts and working on the third novel etc, all vying for my time. It’s no wonder writing is a struggle, unless you could do it full time (and what a blessing that would be). But that’s a long way away yet. Long way indeed.
The other massive challenge, one I struggle to comprehend and execute well enough is marketing. It’s a beast that’s completely frightening and fluid. My next challenge is to understand this beast in amongst all this chaos and questioning.

My target, as an author is to release my next book by late August, all done up and ready, trailing on the footsteps of any marketing strategies I might tackle. Just very nervous and wondering a whole lot of what if questions once again.

If you are trying to be a writer or are already one, you will understand this struggle. One piece of advise I can give if I may is to keep trying. Keep trying because regretting giving up ones dream later on will be a torture in itself and not worth it.

You work, then keep working but don’t let that take your writing from you. I had reached a point in life where I had made peace with the fact that my writing may only be just for me, but it still gave me joy. So I carried on. I’m still carrying on, hoping one day others will call me a writer/author and not just myself.

I think I may print out a large sheet of the manifesto and hang it on the wall my bed faces. Just something to set the mind on track every morning. So here is to stop making excuses, to stop feeding fear, but to strive for it and hope for the best… As scary and exciting as it is.

Taken Hostage

Consider this: “I write because the stories in my head demand that I do.”

Now, bear with me for a moment while I spin this quote another way – a way I understand it to be.

“I write because I am a hostage taken by my stories, and the price for my freedom is to see it till the end. Unfortunately, there are more than just one story!”

Grim? I bet it sounds that way, huh?

But, it is a very true sentiment, down to the bone. These stories and tales stalk us continuously, watching our every move for weeks, or sometimes their decision is spontaneous. They pounce!

And when they do, there is very little choice left to us but to pick up that pen and bleed it out (as Hemingway would no doubt say).

What will happen if we refuse? Well thats simple, either our creativity dies because we have refused to obey, or second, we continue to be stalked by it till we are left feeling like we are slowly going crazy.

I’m not trying to scare you. God no. In fact, I wanted to show you how seriously most writers take their writing, and spend almost all their life practicing it, regardless whether they ever get discovered or ‘make it’.

It’s almost very comical this stance. Writing is by CHOICE. No one makes us do it. Maybe one day an editor might remind us of the deadline, but other than that, no one really holds us ransom and makes us write. We do it to ourselves, and sometimes take that too seriously.

Really, lets us take a moment and sometimes, just breathe. After all it’s only a story.

(That great, revealing quote belongs to Jyl Korroch Milner, and I absolutely love how dramatic it sounds! And for this very reason, I fasted in a sense from writing any creative pieces today. It felt refreshing!)

(With all due respect, please do excuse the unfortunate title.)

Power of Words

Words are power! It can make a mountain out of mole hill, a storm out of a drizzle, an ocean out of a pond, a monster out of little critters, beauty rise amongst rubble, love emerge through loss or gentlemen out of beasts.

Words can make you smile, laugh aloud or roll around the floor in stitches; they can make you sniffle, or hide your tears sly with a swipe, or outright bawl your eyes out; they can hurt to read, make you passionate about a cause; they can make you hope and feel joy. Words aren’t simply symbols on paper strewn together, they represent our world through our human eyes, experience, language, customs, tradition, and general being.

Words paint pictures, make custom movies in your head; they can give voice to those who need it, tell stories, reveal secrets, string a sweet song, or make you fall in love.

Words narrate stories, communicate feelings and emotions; words may lead to dreams, or dreams may lead to words. Words bind people in marriage, welcome newborns, ferry a child through life, give support to others, family and friends. It can be used to break hearts, settle dispute, or ask someone on a date that could lead to more.

In simple: words are necessity part of life. They are powerful, wise, kind, caring, loving, diplomatic, enraging, frustrating, joyful, beautiful etc.

Words are much more than we give credence to. Words are powerful.