• Read this: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?288931-Guidelines-for-Participation-in-Outwitting-Writer-s-Block

    before you post.

Trying Not to Bench Too Much

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Taylor Harbin

Power to the pen!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 8, 2013
Messages
2,465
Reaction score
190
Location
Arkansas
Website
gutsofimagination.blogspot.com
I’ve been away from regular writing for over a year to heal from mental illness (ongoing). Today I was working on the draft of a short story and felt something was off. You know when you try to lift after being away from the gym for a long time and your muscles just scream from the effort? That’s my brain. I hashed it out with my wife and she suggested that my conflict was in the wrong place, that if I wanted to grapple with a particular question then I needed to center my conflict around it, not what happened before

I thought “I used to be able to see stuff like that on my own!” So, here I am looking for ideas. The gears are rusty and I’m trying to lube them. I usually write when I’m excited by an idea but maybe I bit off more than I can chew?

What’s worked for you when returning to the gym? I’m usually averse to writing prompts because they don’t deal with my WIP but I’m giving it second thoughts.
 

ChaseJxyz

Writes birds and bird accessories
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
923
Reaction score
429
Location
California
Website
www.chasej.xyz
Your gym metaphor is pretty apt since it aligns really well with my own answer lol. What works for me, in both writing and working out, is picking something FUN and doing that. I look up a bakery I want to try out and bike there, I choose to ignore google maps and take the longer way home because I haven't gone down those streets before and I want to see what's there. I have a really dumb idea and I write it, even if it's never going to go into anything "serious."

A lot of my "for fun" stuff is fanfiction, and I have a ton of random scenes and unfinished pieces lying around, but it's still words on the page, it's still the process of writing and thinking about writing. Or I write something fanfiction-y for one of my original works, an AU or an interaction that probably happened but will never be "on screen." I am also not really big on writing prompts because it feels like homework to me, not something I actually want to write. So they never accomplish what they're supposed to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: doctor cat person

Nether

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
58
Location
New England
I'd say just keep writing and it'll eventually sort itself out, then you can go back to edit whatever you felt wasn't working (and critiques to see what you didn't realize might be a problem)... although that's my advice for like everything.

I would expect that it feels like re-learning the process. Within the realm of my own experience when I came back to writing fiction, I found myself struggling to remember how to do things I'd once considered routine. Of course, I wound up binging writing videos around that same time which probably helped me out a little. One of the guest lecturers for Sanderson's BYU series (one of the short story experts) pointed out a few things I'd completely forgotten.
 

Taylor Harbin

Power to the pen!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 8, 2013
Messages
2,465
Reaction score
190
Location
Arkansas
Website
gutsofimagination.blogspot.com
I'd say just keep writing and it'll eventually sort itself out, then you can go back to edit whatever you felt wasn't working (and critiques to see what you didn't realize might be a problem)... although that's my advice for like everything.

I would expect that it feels like re-learning the process. Within the realm of my own experience when I came back to writing fiction, I found myself struggling to remember how to do things I'd once considered routine. Of course, I wound up binging writing videos around that same time which probably helped me out a little. One of the guest lecturers for Sanderson's BYU series (one of the short story experts) pointed out a few things I'd completely forgotten.
I watched that series along time ago, and should probably review it. Sanderson is one of my favorite authors.
 

Woollybear

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
4,651
Reaction score
904
Location
USA
For both physical effort and writing, I find good motivation from marking progress. This is why editing is easier for me than drafting, and why with drafting I fixate on word counts. It's Sisyphus, pushing that rock up the hill and seeing that no matter how weak we feel (or actually are), still we are further up the mountain than we had been, thanks to effort.

TLDR: I pan out to pay attention to progress. Each edit brings me closer to a finished product.

Another TLDR: Steve Martin said of something he wrote: "It's not bad, considering it used to be blank paper."
 
  • Like
Reactions: Taylor Harbin

frimble3

Heckuva good sport
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 7, 2006
Messages
8,681
Reaction score
1,303
Location
west coast, canada
I know very little about physical exercise, but I know this, you start slow and work your way into it.
Don't leap right into your big project, maybe do some warm-ups? A little character-building, a few short pieces in the same world, etc? Maybe a little piece in some completely different genre?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Taylor Harbin

Nether

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
58
Location
New England
I watched that series along time ago, and should probably review it. Sanderson is one of my favorite authors.

He's probably my favorite professor, despite having never met him =p

Sanderson is certainly worlds better than any of my actual writing professors, most of whom gave terrible advice because I'm not sure they were ever trade-published.

For both physical effort and writing, I find good motivation from marking progress. This is why editing is easier for me than drafting, and why with drafting I fixate on word counts.

That was one of things that ramped up my overall productivity. (Which, again, was thanks to a Sanderson lecture, because I hadn't really thought of tracking my word count on a daily basis like that despite having used spreadsheets for similar stuff in the past.)

I have an over-engineered spreadsheet showing how well I'm doing in relation to multiple sets of daily word count goals, where I am in relation to completing the book if it was a certain overall word count (which limits my overages), and I'm able to compare benchmarks across projects.

Back when I started doing it for book 1, the remainder of that project averaged 1.4k words per day (that was a time target). Book 2 was still 1.4k per day (off a 1k target). Book 3 got me to 1.8k per day (off a 1.5k target). Book 4 was when I made the jump to 3k/day (off a 2k target, I think?). Book 5 was 4.7k words per day, but that was skewed by marathon weekend sessions (and that was a 2.5k or 3k target). Book 6 was the first time my average went down instead of up (2.9k on a 2.5k or 3k target -- although, if you count the final section I went to write in the next day, the average drops because that last day was 119 words so I'm leaving it out). So far book 7 has been 3.5k per day (off a 2.5k target... well, really a 3k target).

But yeah, the tracking helped me challenge my previous amounts, and motivated me to write more. However, part of that is also going from writing about an hour a day to doing 2-3 hours a day.
 

Featured Book