Monday, December 08, 2008

'Tis the Season

Is anyone else finding is nearly impossible to get things done during this time of year? I have a major celeb profile due this week, and it is all I can do to crack open the document and eke out a few lousy sentences. It didn't used to be this way: in fact, I remember in years past, that December and early January were some of my busiest times (surprisingly), and maybe I just didn't have time to procrastinate, but wow, am I struggling to get off the bench these days.

I was thinking about this - my lack of motivation on this particular piece, which, incidentally, I should be loving, so it's not anything about this specific piece that has my ass dragging - and how I can jumpstart myself, when it occurred to me that this was an excellent topic for this blog. Because, it dawned on me, there is a very big difference between feeling unmotivated and thus not writing, and really and truly being blocked and thus not writing. I guess the end result is the same: a blank page, but the root of the problem can be very different.

I've found that in the past, when I've lacked motivation to tackle an article, it's often because I don't have enough information to really dive into. I need to fully and completely saturate myself with every possible angle on the subject before I am 100% confident in my writing. Which doesn't mean that I always DO this, it just means that I can definitely tell the difference in the ease with which the words flow if I am overprepared in my knowledge of my subject matter. The same holds true for this celeb piece. I was really stuck as to how to start it. I'd mentally drafted several intros, but I knew I could do better. Finally, after pouring over some past interviews of this celeb and rereading my own transcripts a few times, it came to me last night in the middle of the night. Aha! Yes! Now I'm psyched to sit down and write this baby because I know it will ring true. My preparation made that happen.

Now, alternatively, I think a lot of us get stuck with fiction, and get stuck in a way that little can be done to get us out of it. In these instances, sometimes I try to write anyway, but that's often just really depressing because the words and pages just suck. In these instances, sometimes, I step away from the work for a bit...I never stop thinking about it, but yeah, I give myself a chance to breath, to consider new angles and new obstacles for my characters, and almost inevitably, I work through my block. Of course, there's certainly something to be said for just keeping at it: fiction is a muscle that needs to be flexed, and often times, the more you flex it, the stronger it becomes...but not always. Sometimes, you just end up straining something.

So...this season, if you're finding yourself wholly unmotivated, maybe consider the cause. Are you inadequately prepared to write knowledgeably on the subject or are you just plain stuck? And if you've found yourself in my position, please do share your tips on breaking out of it? (Online shopping is certainly a good one!) :)


Angie Ledbetter said...

Sage advise. When I get stuck, I delve into another project in a different genre. Sometimes just getting away from it helps refresh motivation.

Anonymous said...

Often I try to work on something else. At least that keeps the words flowing from me and I don't get as upset with myself.

My memoir bogged down late last week and the words limped along like a three-legged dog. I needed several days and a sit down with my husband to come to the realization I was putting far too much pressure on myself to capture event perfectly and still avoid offending anyone who might read it one day. I just needed to write and not worry about who or if the writing would see the light of day. Nothing on the page is so indelible that it's immune to editing or revision.

And now I am, if not unstuck exactly, moving forward.