Saturday, December 21, 2013

Where I've Been: Stuck in a Creative Rut

Well hello there, friends. It's been some time, yes?

I currently have a draft saved that includes my top 10 tips for surviving finals week… and, well, with actually doing finals and then running a lot of errands and cleaning my apartment before going home to stay with my parents for Christmas, I didn't find the time. It’ll have to wait for next quarter, I suppose.

Oh yeah, and I had a little bit of a laptop fiasco right before Thanksgiving. Spoiler alert: Archie’s butt knocked over my wine glass and it sloshed across my keyboard, which locked me out of doing absolutely anything with it.

So to conclude, I was a bit of a wreck for those two weeks. Finals kicked my ass, but hey, I got all A’s for my first quarter of graduate school! I don’t think I've ever been more proud of myself.

Anyway. I took this last week(ish) to sit on my butt and do absolutely nothing as a reward for making it through some grueling final papers, projects, and the six hour drive home. But now I’m getting restless and it’s doing all sorts of weird things to my moods. I work best with deadlines, and with no projects or copy edits to do, I’m losing my mind.

Proof of the madness that is creativity.
I've been trying to work on my book (Did I mention I've been writing a book? Well, now you know.) since I have loads of free time, but I haven’t been feeling “it” lately. I’m at a loss for what to write next—even though I have an outline and know my characters inside and out. I can’t get the motivation for some reason, and every time I sit down to write I become distracted (Pinterest! Facebook! New Girl!) because I’m not in my personal writing environment. I love my story, but I can’t get it to excite me right now for some reason.

Fortunately, last night I decided I’d get out my notebook that contains all my notes and scribbles for my novel. It also contains large amounts of loose papers I stick in there with spur-of-the-moment ideas scrawled on them. I thought maybe if I rifled through it, I’d get excited about my novel again. As it happens (no big surprise, really) I somehow lost hold of the notebook, and everything fell out of it. All over. It was like a waterfall of tiny papers.

As I was rounding them up, one paper in particular caught my attention because:
1. I don’t use blank printer paper when I outline
2. I don’t write in Sharpie
3. I don’t write in print anymore, only cursive

Side note: I feel those three things amount to a solid example of my growth as a writer. Somehow.

So I took a closer look. It was an outline, of sorts, for a couple related short story ideas I’d had probably about three years ago and completely forgotten about. I remember being excited about it at the time, until one day someone told me it sounded dumb, so I silently tucked it into the pages of my notebook so I didn't have to look at it anymore.

Well, let me tell you. Whoever told me that originally—and I have no idea who that is now—was dead wrong. These stories have a lot of promise and potential, even if it took me a few years to see it. I immediately stopped what I was doing (Playing StarFox 64, duh) and frantically expanded on the idea(s) like my life depended on it. It was a bit of an adrenaline rush, as silly as it sounds. I've now got a good, revised outline complete and have made significant progress on one of the stories already.

Look at those beautiful notes!
Also: this gives me a good excuse to listen to monster music.
My god, you guys. I’m so excited about this. It’s just the side project I needed to get me back into the groove of writing. If you’re curious as to what it’s about, by all means, ask away. I’m that excited about it that I’ll vomit ideas all over you. It may not be pretty. You've been warned.

So, moral(s) of the story:
  • Just because someone tells you what you write is dumb or stupid, doesn't mean it is. There will always be one person who doesn't like what you do. Get over it. 
  • Sometimes you need to take a break from a big project and work on a smaller project for a while to clear your head.
  • If you have a dog with an out of control butt, don’t keep beverages of any sort near your computer. Just don’t.
P.S. I've been trying to think of something to write that I can submit to EWU’s Northwest Boulevard and I think one of these stories will do nicely. If you’re a current Eastern student or alumni who enjoys writing, I highly encourage you to submit something. You could get published! And who doesn't want to be published?!  NWB is currently accepting prose (fiction and non-fiction) and poetry submissions via Submittable, so hop to it!

Proof that if I was published by NWB, you could be too! 
And that’s the end of me indulging in writing about myself. I promise not to do it often. Though I may write about creative writing more? If, you know, that’s a thing people want to read about…

If you write, do you ever work on another project when you feel stuck? 

If you’re an Eastern student, will you submit anything to Northwest Boulevard?

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