Writing Life: a 2017 WIP


As we begin 2017, I continue to wrack up requests and rejections on the “OVERBOARD” manuscript. I’m happy about all the movement, because love it or hate it, few are indifferent. I’ve even begun querying again, sending to those agencies that were closed until the new year.

It’s the first real work I’ve done in weeks.

I haven’t been able to write since early December. That’s one month ago. PitchWars was a mad dash revision from August 23-November deadline. Then there was the election. Then travel for family, the holidays, recovery. Oh, and I’m halfway through a pregnancy, so that slowed me down as I spent weeks of my life feeling like I was on the cusp of throwing up…yet never being able to actually throw up. It’s the hangover that won’t end. Brutal.

There was one magic day when a WIP dropped me hard into the flow, and I did some good work. But after that, I was tapped. How to work when you can’t work? Of course everyone needs a break, but I get *tight* in the chest when I don’t write for days. And this isn’t writer’s block, because I’m brimming with ideas. It’s actually putting words to paper that seems impossible, having used up all the energy. And I’ve heard I’m not the only one.

So how to get it back? Here is a list of things that have refueled the tank over the past few weeks. Incidentally, I wrote an opening for a new novel today that felt good and read well aloud. So we know at least SOME of these things are working. I hope they help you too:

  1. Get outside. I went snowshoeing and skiing and it sparked an idea for a mystery story I’ve been writing.
  2. Read what you normally wouldn’t read. I read lit fiction and nonfiction that I loved, and remembered I love ALL books.
  3. Read what you already know and love. I’m re-reading Harry Potter and loving it for the story and study of it.
  4. Write what you wouldn’t write. Try prompts, random ideas, one sentence. Little clips over the past weeks have added up to more material than I realized. I guess I did do some writing, it just wasn’t cohesive!
  5. Spend time with friends. NO, I mean people you REALLY like. Some of us do a lot of social obligations, especially around the holidays. Spend time with people who inspire you, who remind you of who you are through your relationship with them. You’ll feel more human.
  6. Play music, either on the stereo or in real life. Paint, draw, anything that is creative but not related to writing.
  7. Go to a museum. Get out of your head and routine and see something new.
  8. Volunteer. Be an activist for your community. Do something that reminds you that there’s a big world out there. We could all stand to reach out to others. If you don’t have energy for this, start by just interacting with strangers in some way–smile, thank the bus driver, ask the barista how his day is going. These are little things that tether us to the world and make us care about each other. Also, they give us good insight and details about how people live their lives.

Basically, you can’t write about the world if you don’t live in it. And if all else fails, binge anything pleasurable. Old favs (Gilmore, Buffy, Battlestar), new favs (Atlanta, Brooklyn 99, The Crown). Sometimes it’s good to let other people do the storytelling, with none of the work.