Sunday, August 17, 2008

How Do You Get Out Of A Writing Funk?

The first couple of weeks I head back to my second grade classroom I put my writing aside.
Frankly, I’m too exhausted to even think straight after the day is over. Getting back into the groove of keeping over twenty adorable eight-year-olds on task, mentally and physically engaged at their appropriate and individual ability levels, while staying out of trouble is tiring work. I equate it to going from 0 to 100 miles an hour and maintaining that speed for 7 hours straight. Plus another 1-3 hours of descending speed to get ready for the next day.

Thinking about going back to work on my manuscript soon prompted me to ask a few writing friends what they do to get back to the story after a writing funk.
Here’s what they had to say.

“I go to a coffee house and don't allow myself to leave for at least an hour. I'm not allowed to do *anything* but write--on anything I want. No Internet, no newspapers, no books, no chatting. I put on headphones to block out all other sounds. If you can't afford a laptop, take a notebook and pencil. If coffee houses aren't your thing, go to the library. The point is to get away from all distractions, imprison yourself in the chair, and let creativity germinate."
Jennifer AshleyBook: Immortals: The Redeeming (Sept. 2008)

“Hey Tina – my tried and tested trick is to set a timer for 30 minutes and sit down and write.
My brain knows it only has to perform for 30 minutes. It forgets about having to write a whole book, thousands of words, please editors, agents, readers, reviewers... and just write for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, I can either get up and make a cup of tea, do something else, and then try for another half an hour, or I can just keep on going! Most times, I just keep on going. I’ve never known this method not to work!”
Anna Louise Lucia
RUN AMONG THORNS – OUT NOW from Medallion Press!
In a crisis moment of her life, Jenny Waring did something exceptional.
She killed three armed men.
“Excellent... an all-round compelling escape.” 4 ½ stars, Romantic Times

“Hi Tina,
One of the things that can get me motivated is to visit Barnes and Noble, get a Mocha Frappe, and get into the atmosphere of coffee, chocolate, and books on a shelf. It makes me want to grab my laptop and churn out a best-seller.”

“Sometimes I read but mostly I force my butt in the chair and write, even if it's crap.”

JADED, RT Top Pick! Pocket, Out Now!

“Tina, when I'm in a writing funk, I go for a change of scenery. I pack up my laptop and run to one of my favorite coffee shops. It always seems to do the trick.”
Melanie Atkins


Marsha said...

teach writing and tell my students to have a plan or outline. Not necessarily one of those one, two three things but an idea of what you want to say and how to say it. There is no law that writers have to start at the beginning, middle, and end up at the end. There is no law that writers have to stick with the plan. If the work goes in a different direction, follow it. This might be good and then the writer may have to rein it in and go back to the plan. Take risks. Audiences usually respond well to something new and fresh.

After writing that first draft, let it incubate. Go for a walk, eat dinner, just get away from it. Come back with a fresh mindset and those rough areas or parts that need revising (not editing--be careful here) may not seem so challenging.

I urge my students to write something--get it down on paper. They can always go back later and change what doesn't work, keep what does, develop or delete. Work with a partner--good writing does not occur in a vacuum but is a collaboration, just like any other composition.

Pat Cochran said...

Interesting that half of the writers
surround themselves with books and
coffee. The other half write, as
the writing teacher suggests. Which
group do you follow?

Pat Cochran/Reader

Tina LaVon said...

I like to surround myself with coffee and books, too.

Elaine Cantrell said...

When I get into a writing funk I take a day off then start writing again. Often it isn't much good to start with, but the very process of putting words on paper helps. New ideas start to form. I can always go back later and re-write the parts I need to. Oh, and the coffee-you bet.

Elaine Cantrell

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Actually I can't stand coffee, but the laid back, kinda arty atmosphere at coffee houses helps. I'm surrounded by people working on laptops--students, freelancers, consultants. Good music on my headphones helps. But I always to to the coffee houses that serve great tea! (I like the *smell* of coffee, though. Go figure.)

Anna Lucia said...

Odd prevalence of caffeine in the advice, Tina!!


Alexis Walker said...

So many writer's get into writing at coffee houses. I think I may just try it. Good thing I like Chai because I hate coffee:-)