If you find yourself making every excuse under the sun to avoid writing, there is always one, sometimes there are up to three, salient, isolatable reasons why. If you can pin down the reasons for your avoidance and I-don’t-wanna-ness, you are more than halfway to overcoming your reluctance. Find out the reason(s) why you are currently reluctant to write, stare at it (or them) for a few moments, and you will, more likely than not, discover that your reasons for reluctance are solvable.
Victor Poole, You’re Just Being Encouraging Again
Here is an example: You just got home from work and fed your cat. You wash some dishes and heat up some food. Then, after dinner and before bedtime, you stare at your computer. Your manuscript is calling you, beckoning with arms laden with guilt. But I don’t wanna, you think. But I oughta, you reply to yourself.
The Dance Of Voices In Your Head Goes On For Awhile
Feeling both victorious and ashamed, you browse Pinterest and read up on your favorite writing blogs. Then you research an element of your world-building, and reluctantly open your current manuscript. The I-don’t-wanna feeling flares up violently; “Maybe I really don’t want to be a writer after all,” you tell yourself, and you wander away to find a soothing beverage.
But Why, Gentle Reader, Don’tcha Wanna?
I used a lot of anachronistic phrases in The Eastern Slave series, on purpose (you won’t find such elements in The Second Queen, for example). I did this on purpose, to tear up the settled way of thinking in experienced fantasy writers’ heads. The purpose, my purpose, in doing this was to present a striking dichotomy, of vivid, humanistic portrayal beside an almost jocular irreverence for the genre. Plainly said, the series is meant to piss people off.
Why Victor, How Charming Of You!
I also wrote a very sensitive, angry, and uber-intelligent female character. I don’t explain much of her thought process, and if you, the reader, are not quick enough to keep up, or to piece together her reasoning after the fact, there is no help in the book. I did this for two reasons; one, I’m tired of trope fantasy, and I want better gender portrayal in the genre, and two, I selected a very particular and rare breed of energy to seed into this main character’s aura.
Wait, You Build Auras For Your Characters, Victor?
Exceptionally detailed and fully-functional energy fields. If you read the books, and toil through the anger and mental flaying you will probably experience in the process, you will find a world full of real-seeming people. Well, they seem real because I built them coherently. If you have a hobby of people-watching, my characters pay off. They behave consistently, and have a wonderful knack of exhibiting realistic dynamic growth. Because I’m a genius.
And You’re Humble, Too!
Yes, I know. Back to the topic of our Friday post, when you have settled on a fizzy beverage, or a toasty tea, or an economical cup of water, and have come back to your computer, ask yourself, “Why?”
The Right Questions Clear Up Reluctance
“Why am I reluctant to write?” Ask yourself this, sincerely, and wait for an answer. If you wait patiently, and repeat the question, your brain will naturally compose a reply.
- Because I’m not good enough
- Because they will make fun of my ideas
- Because I don’t want to
Once You Have The First Reply, Repeat The Question
Ask yourself again, “Why aren’t I good enough?” “Who will make fun of which of my ideas?” “Why don’t I want to?”
Again, if you ask patiently, and repeatedly, and wait, an answer will present itself to you.
- I’m not good enough because I didn’t write yesterday
- My mom thinks space-orcs are stupid
- I think I’ll fail
Repeat The “Why” Until You Have No Further Down To Go
As you repeat this process, within four or ten steps, you will find yourself at a definite brick wall. Some hard, definite feeling, caused by a distinct experience, will present itself in answer to your “Why.” When you have reached this point, you will know that you are at the real answer to your question.
Some Examples Of A Final Answer
Perhaps you are afraid of writing because your mother had that particular tone in her voice when you mentioned your last chapter. Perhaps you have established a routine for writing, and you skipped it all last week because the car broke down and you had to spend your writing time negotiating with mechanics, and now you can’t forgive yourself for getting behind. Maybe you are about to write a huge, dramatic confrontation between the galactic emperor and your upstart hero, and you don’t think you’re going to do the scene justice.
Once You Have It, Turn It Over In Your Mind
Pushing through genuine reluctance without addressing the “Why” is not wise; you may find yourself writing worse and worse, and getting angrier and angrier at yourself. Taking the time to figure out what upset you, and giving yourself the respect and grace to process your buried feelings, creates a relationship of trust and reliability between your process and your soul. Many writers take up a metaphorical stick, and beat themselves over the head to squeeze out a few more words every day, but such violence against the self is not sustainable, and does not result in wholesome fiction. If you practice this process of asking “Why,” and then asking again and again, you will find, over time, that the answers present themselves quicker, and that you recover from the delay faster. You are your material; treat yourself well, and the material will reflect your care.
You’re reading Victor Poole. I just finished cleaning and updating one of my books. If today was not Friday, it would be some other day.