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Slow Starts

Cheryl's Musings: Slow Starts

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Slow Starts

After a madly productive last week, this week is feeling a bit slow. Take this morning: it's 10:18, and I've yet to pen a single word on my WIP. I keep succumbing to real-world distractions--phone calls, responding to emails, making appointments, renewing library books--all the two-minute tasks that can easily eat up an entire day.

The truth is, I'm feeling a bit agitated. Not stressed, exactly; I get stressed when I have problems looming with no plan of attack. But I've got the adrenaline rush that comes from thinking too much about all the items on my to-do list, and I'm finding it hard to sit down and focus.

So I'm doing as Beth suggested in response to my last post: I'm using the blog for a bit of warm-up writing. I'm here to promise you all that, as soon as this posts, I will plant my butt on my green sofa (I write at the sofa most days, where the dogs can curl up beside me), plop my notebook on my lap, reread the events that need to take shape next in my story, and start dreaming up the scene. Daydreaming is much less threatening, you see, than writing an official paragraph. I close my eyes and think about what my character sees, feels, tastes, smells, and hears, and then I make lists--on the left hand, "unofficial" page of my notebook, of course. Those lists usually spark a sentence of scene description or a snippet of dialog. Next thing I know, I'm usually scribbling away, describing the events unfolding inside my head. Soon I'll have a half dozen pages filled, check the time, and realize that I'm late for something...

It's my process :).

If that doesn't work, I'll have to bring out the heavy guns: others' great books. I just read Thirsty by M.T. Anderson last night, and man, that guy can teach me a thing or three about writing short, intense scenes. But more on that later--I have to go write!

:) Cheryl



At March 4, 2009 at 11:10 AM , Blogger Joanne said...

I've found that sometimes doing other things beside the writing is all part of the process ... maybe I'm working out a plot conflict or character issue, maybe a little bit of writer's block, and while I'm busy with other tasks, my mind is on the story, ironing it out. Enjoyed browsing here, happy writing!

At March 4, 2009 at 12:51 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Did it work for you? :) I realized yesterday that I spent 2 of my 3 hours of writing time blogging, so I might have to revise my theory!

At March 4, 2009 at 8:34 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Joanne--I know what you mean. The trick is that I have to start the other task *thinking* about my character or plot issue. Otherwise, it doesn't work for me! That's one reason I give myself permission to spend an hour doing research in the midst of a chapter, though. Sometimes, I need pictures or first hand accounts to help me get back in the flow.

At March 4, 2009 at 8:35 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Beth--Yes! It worked, if only because after my public promise I felt compelled to quit procrastinating :). I did get about 1000 words written before I felt like I was moving the story the wrong direction. Tomorrow I'll probably need to back up a little and adjust course....


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