As a writer, there are so many things that can throw you for a loop, that can suck the energy right out of you and make it hard to do anything, much less write. There are big things, like attending funerals, offering comfort to someone in the hospital or emergency room, or news of someone close to you with cancer or another severe illness. Aside from the loss, or potential loss, of someone you care about, those kinds of things are powerful reminders of our mortality. It’s no surprise that they can cause feelings of depression and perhaps a desire to curl up in a nest and hide until you don’t feel so bad.
Even ‘small’ things can disrupt. A bad review, a summons for jury duty, a surprisingly large bill, or an unexpected home repair or appliance failure. There are a number of relatively innocuous events that can eat away at your energy, your desire to put pen or pencil to paper, or to tap away at a keyboard or typewriter.
So what are you to do at times like that? YOU WRITE.
Drag yourself off the sofa/chair/recliner, pull yourself hand-over-hand out of that blanket nest. Make your coffee or tea or whatever you imbibe, plop your butt at your table or desk, and you darn well write. No idea what to write? Read over a few of the pages leading to where you are now to re-familiarize yourself with the scene and then continue that ongoing inner monologue, or that conversation, or that scene description, or whatever. Just. Keep. Writing.
Over the past almost five years since I started writing more or less seriously, there have been a few days where all I got on the page was a single paragraph. One paragraph. But you know what? That was more than I would have done if I’d crawled into bed, or curled up on the sofa. The next day may only bring about one or two paragraphs as well, but that is still progress. Eventually, either through the passage of time or because of the writing, your mood will again lift, you will feel the old inspiration, and ideas will once again pummel you relentlessly. You’ll then look back over the surprisingly large number of pages you were able to eke out in the interim and be glad of them.
As a bonus, all those disruptive things can also provide you with material. Writing a scene where protag (or antag, for that matter) is going through something horrible? Recall how you felt when something horrible happened to you and translate that into how that character would feel in their scene.
All those things also point out the truth of the saying ‘Shit happens.’ Not so good in real life, perhaps, but as a writer, there’s nothing like some good old random (but logical) disruption to stir the plot up. I made use of this in A Storm in the Desert.
SPOILER WARNING. If you’ve not read Dragonlinked Chronicles Volume 3, A Storm in the Desert, you may want to skip the next paragraph. If you’d like to read it, purchase links to Amazon.com for each of the volumes are available in the Books section of the Library menu above, or, have a friend lend it to you. All my books are Kindle Lending Library enabled.
Initially, the issues with the Corpus Order were going to be resolved in the execution scene. Before Anaya was executed, Aeron was going to give a speech that would convince Nesch Takatin of the error of his ways and lead to the Corpus Order ending their campaign against dragons. As I got closer and closer to writing that outlined scene, I felt it was a little too . . . tame. Then one day an idea struck me. How about some disruption (at least for Takatin)? Instead of just a talk-talk scene, how about throwing in a rescue? Aeron and Anaya would be rescued, and the guild would start an overt, in-your-face campaign to convince the members of the Order and the people of the villages that what the Order was doing was wrong. This also made me look at my initial idea of the Order becoming an ally of the guild. What if, instead, the Order gets completely shut down by the very person who everyone thought would help? Disruption! I didn’t want to leave them with total failure, however, and readers, I was certain, would feel the same way. So then, if I went with this twist, what other method could be used to accomplish their core goal? How about something that had been talked about before in another context, something that someone no one liked was using to gain an upper hand? Have the guild purchase the Order’s assets and turn Bataan-Mok into a guild branch! Former members of the Order would keep their jobs and the guild could continue doing most of the things the Order used to. Everything looked like it would work out nice and neat, so that’s what I did.
Disruption can be difficult for us to handle, but fight through those tough times and then use them. Difficulty isn’t so great in your life, but it makes good stories.