Four positives out of an ‘average’ WIP Wednesday

Ever have one of those days when you do all the right things — sit down at the computer, open the WIP, block out all distractions, prepare for an unbroken afternoon of productivity — and end up with a mere (this is almost too embarrassing to admit) 250 words?

Four hours. FOUR HOURS was how long it took me today to grind out 250 words.

Even as I stare at this figure I cannot believe it.

There are reasons of course; there always are. Things had gone wrong in the previous session and they needed to be unpicked… I spent huge chunks of time pondering how things should happen instead, re-reading earlier scenes to cross-check facts that might impact current events, jotting notes in my journal, sighing, swearing (for &%#* sake, why can’t I make these %&$& idiots do what I want them to do?!), editing, and of course writing and then — noooooo — deleting.

Grand total: 250 words added.

Must say, this doesn’t reflect the grand plans I’d had for today’s public holiday (Lest We Forget). It wasn’t writer’s block. I knew what I wanted to do, I just couldn’t quite figure out the best way of doing it.

Nonetheless, I am determined to take some positives out of this very average WIP Wednesday:

  1. I managed to stay disciplined and focused and determined for four whole hours. It wasn’t pretty, but oddly enough I didn’t really notice the time passing. I had this puzzle I needed to solve. (I admit it helped that my social media accounts had gone quiet. I also had to feed the devilcat to make her go away and leave me in peace.)
  2. I set the scene in question on a better course. It may only have resulted in 250 words, but they’re important words!
  3. At least I spent time with my WIP, thinking about the characters, getting to know them better.
  4. Productivity can only improve from here.

OK, I feel better already. Thanks for listening. Any other writers out there have a similar experience ever? What do you do when the words aren’t flowing?

23 comments

  1. I think we all have those days. When my words aren’t flowing, I go clean the horse stalls. Really, there is nothing like the mindless hucking of manure to get your brain clicking on other things. πŸ˜‰

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  2. I hear ya! Sometimes, despite our best laid plans we can get nothing constructive done. But don’t you, from time to time have days when it just floods out. What a shame we have no control of when this happens!

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  3. Hum…so how is it that as crappy as you feel about those 250 words, I’m supremely relieved. Of course that’s only because it’s such a sobering reminder that it’s all part of the job description and we will have those stinky days, but there will also be others when we’re singing from the rooftops. (Which explains why it is generally the career choice of Loons and Masochists.)

    Alas if only I had horses to provide me an opportunity for mindless mucking!

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  4. Well, now I don’t feel so bad. I have had more than my share of 200 words days! It is encouraging to know that other writers to through this. Is that perverse? Anyway, keep on writing.

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  5. If the words aren’t flowing as smoothly as I would like, I try to just get stuff on-screen no matter how bad or awkward it sounds, then keep going. The most important thing a first draft needs to do is exist. It’s about creating raw material to work with, like a lump of clay for a sculpture. Some of it will be usable when creating the final piece, and some of it won’t. New and better ideas will come during the first draft, and also during the revision, so while writing, I try not to worry about editing or if the later scenes follow logically from the earlier ones. I just do the best I can to generate enough material to work with, then evaluate it during the revision–where a bunch of stuff will probably get thrown out anyway.

    It’s hard for me to do, though. My inner critic is particularly loud and kinda stresses me out when writing first draft material *shrug*

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    1. Yes, I aspire to be able to write without my inner critic. Problem is, whenever I do so, when I come back to it the next day I read it over and shudder! No matter how I try, I find it so difficult to leave the bad stuff on the page. It’s easier to leave when it’e merely badly expressed, but the intent is OK. Much harder to ignore (for me impossible) if I decide that was a bad idea and I need to try something else… like X should do this instead of that. Which is what I’ve been struggling with this week.

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      1. I think I understand. When writing my first draft, there were at least a couple of times when I changed my mind about stuff I’d already written. It was so hard not to go back and change those things. But I felt it would be better–for me, anyway–to simply continue forward as if I’d made the changes. It seems like it was the right call, in my case. Now that I’m evaluating what I ended up with, I’m still changing my mind about stuff.

        Writing is a very personal thing and we’re all different, so one person’s solution won’t always work for someone else. The only thing that appears constant is that writing is a struggle, like we’re trying to bludgeon a giant, uncooperative beast into submission.

        But it helps to know it’s often like that even for established writers who’ve been doing it for a long time. It means we’re in good company πŸ™‚

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        1. Yeah, as you say, we all approach it differently. I’d love to be more relaxed and willing to let the first draft be bad. I’m working on that. There’s little more frustrating than doing away with something that has taken a while to produce.

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          1. For sure 😦 But that seems to be part of the gig, at least for me, anyway. I’m naturally inclined to write more material than I really need, then when I’m revising, I cut stuff down.

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  6. I agree with Mike, we need to get into the habit of just writing-whatever spills out; junk, fluff, awful, dull, etc., so we have something to work with later when we unleash the editor. We all struggle with editing while getting down the work, but put a leash on that critic so you can get in the flow. That all being said, 250 words is better than no words (which I’ve had now for a week while behind in everything because life happened) so Yeah! for you, 250 words!

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    1. Yeah, I agree with it in theory, but it doesn’t seem to be my process. I’ve never been able to figure out how to keep going in a good direction, when I’m not happy with what has just ‘happened’. Seems too much like throwing good words after bad, if you know what I mean. I’m not happy unless I’m happy πŸ™‚

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  7. Deb Dixon says we are “final draft writers” OR “first draft writers” OR “quilters.”

    I know I am a “final draft writer” which means I write it until it’s perfect and it works. and then I do the next scene, and so on. 250 words is a GOOD DAY.

    Mike & Cora are “first draft writers” – In the words of Nora Roberts, they “vomit” it onto the page, and then they fix it in the edit. That would drive me crazy. Although, I do that when I am freefalling morning pages to get my head in gear.

    And then there are the quilters who write all out of order and stitch it all together later.

    Hey, whatever works, works!

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne! I think I’m somewhere in between a “final draft writer” and a “first draft writer”. My inclination is probably more to the former, but I still invariably find myself writing subsequent drafts in the search for perfection! There are always things that come to me later, and things I want to improve. Sometimes you need to view it as a whole to work out what needs to be strengthened.

      For this reason, I try not to be too precious and keep moving forward… but I can’t move forward if I’m not happy with the direction, so invariably some backtracking ensues.

      One thing I am absolutely NOT is a quilter! That would drive me crazy.

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