Thursday Thoughts on the WIP

The writerly blogosphere seems to be abuzz this week about conflict.  Check out these posts that I found during my blog time just scrolling down my blog subscriptions:

The Writing Lair: Why We Need Villains
Tempering the Steel: Death, Destruction, and Despair: Writing Conflict
Ink-Stained Scribe: Character Flaws – Make Them Matter!

Erin Writes: I’ve Been Thinking A Lot About Antagonists

I thought these posts about conflicts and character flaws and resolutions fit perfectly with my own recent mindset since I had to conquer (yet another) mental obstacle before I can push on and make progress on my WIP (any WIP, really, including my guest post for a friend).  I wrote a ridiculously long blog post last night about the root cause of my work stand still, but Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) captured the essence of what I felt when she said: “…some days it feels like you just have to keep getting out of your own way so that whatever it is that wants to be written can use you to write it.”  The end result of my realization was my comment on Sierra Gardner’s blog:

“You are a different person, which means that your success will look different as well and that is a very good thing!”

Thank you so much for this post! Not so long ago (coughcoughlastyearcoughcough), whenever I saw others finishing books, landing agents, etc, I ended up thinking, “why bother?” and stopped writing. But, I would always pick up my pen again or start doodling another idea in my journal, like I’m some kind of unstoppable masochist.
It took a LOT of stops and starts (a lot, a lot!) to realize that
1. I obviously love The Writing, otherwise, why would I keep going back to it against all my ridiculous reasoning and
2. The need/desire for stories will NEVER run out, so I should stop feeling like the world will sell out of agents/publishing houses.

Plus, all this reminds me that I am in charge of my own success. I’m accountable for how much (or little) work/effort I put into the WIP. So, if I haven’t been putting a lot of effort into it, then I really have no right to complain.

The Shiny: My To-Read stack

So, not only did I have my own random (and fleeting) feelings of inferiority to overcome, I’ve had SO much fun (maybe too much fun) recently reading the GLUT of books that I’ve been desperately waiting for, that I have only given my WIP half-hearted attempts.  Well, enough of that.  I have a hard enough time getting over my own mental obstacles, and writing around a full-time work schedule, that I don’t need pretty shiny books distracting me.  (But, oh, The Shiny!)

So, I have reined in my readinglust to one fiction book and one non-fiction book a week.  And, I will only get to read another book with each chapter I finish revising.  I’ve also put my wordmeter back up from my days of NaNoWriMo, to keep me accountable to my words.

For my mental obstacle?  Well, even though I feel like it’s sufficiently solved, there may, MAY, be a time when it will rear its obnoxious head again.  And, when it’s time for me to relearn, I’ll revisit Anne Lamott’s words in Bird by Bird (what, you didn’t know she wrote it specifically for me?):

“You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story.  You are desperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transcendence, to make real or imagined events come alive.  But you cannot will this to happen.  It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work.  So you might as well just go ahead and get started.”

Time to get started.  Again.

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23 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts on the WIP

  1. Regina says:

    I love your shiny. Those are wonderful reading choices. I have a few of those on my stack as well. I get in my own way plenty of times and commend your effort and think it is great that you are keeping your word count up. Best wishes on your projects.

  2. kelworthfiles says:

    Good luck with the WIP.

    I’m starting up a ‘Critiquing and Supportive Crusaders’ program, where participants in the Second Crusade can find other writers to exchange critiques with or form supportive critiquing circles. If you’re interested, come by The Kelworth Files to check it out!

  3. Trisha says:

    I saw someone else mention that Bird on Bird book today already. Maybe it’s worth checking out!

    Anyway…only one fiction and one non-fiction a week?!?! Yikes, that still strikes me as a lot of reading. LOL.

    • Liza Kane says:

      Hi Trisha,

      Back in March, during an especially good week (of getting galleys or requested books from the library, etc), I read a book a day. I’m a pretty fast reader, and can read the average YA in 4-6 hours; genre fiction a little bit longer, but not much. When I’m in the reading marathon mood, I’m like a crack addicted monkey: I absolutely can’t stop reading!

      I definitely suggest Bird by Bird and On writing by Stephen King. I enjoy reading their mindset and relationship toward writing.

      Thanks for stopping by, and Happy writing to you!

  4. Erin Brambilla says:

    We are all thinking about conflict this week, aren’t we? LOL. I had to read Bird by Bird in college and now that I’m diving into writing, I really, really, really regret selling my books back. What was I thinking? *(this is where I build a time machine and tell my 21-year-old self the $3 isn’t worth it)* Anyway, I’m having one of those days where I’ve stared at my screen for the last 30 minutes and I’ve added 25 words. 25! Ack! I think I need to do what Anne Lamott says, “Get out of my own way” and “Just get started”.

    • Liza Kane says:

      Yes please tell your 21 year old the $3 is NOT worth it, ESPECIALLY since I spent $8 in 2011 money to get it, so based on inflation (because of course I’m an expert!), that’s like spending $20 10 years ago! Definitely not a good return on investment, ESPECIALLY considering how AWESOME the book it! (I’ve only bought it to own it last week! 😉 )
      Also, at least you WROTE 25 words in 30 minutes. That’s a word a minute! woohoo! Better than a writer who will remain nameless who wrote 0 words last week. 😀
      Thank you for visiting and I look forward to following you on your writing journey!

  5. Anne-Mhairi Simpson says:

    Fantastic post! Just wonderful. That comment you left on Sierra’s blog covers feelings I have had on exactly the same subject – I kept thinking, god, everyone’s got there ahead of me, there’ll be no room left! Daft, of course, but don’t we all want to be first?

    Anyway, it’s such a relief to know that someone else has experienced the same (possibly unjustifiable in any logical fashion) feelings about the likelihood of any kind of success.

    Thank you!

    • Liza Kane says:

      Ah, yes…And these shared experiences of ours is the reason why I started blogging in the first place: to know that I am not alone in the writing journey.
      Silly internal struggles! But, with every one that I experience, and share, I hear back from others reminding me that they too have had that same experience. With each story they share, it’s like they tell the crazy-need-to-be-perfect-internal-editor: “Relax. This is part of the process. You will be fine. If I can do it, you can do it.”
      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Deborah Burns says:

    I love the “time to get started… again.” I think we have that opportunity every day as writers. It doesn’t matter what happened or didn’t happen yesterday. We have the chance, right now, to get started again. To pick up a pen or click away on our keyboards. Your phrase offers so much hope. And I think that is what we most need as writers… hope. Hope that we haven’t missed our train. Hope that others will love our characters and our worlds as much as we do. Hope that, if we keep going, we WILL be publishes someday.

    Thanks, Liza! Love this post. And I look forward to getting started again… right now!

    • Liza Kane says:

      And, thank YOU, Debbie, for your encouraging words! The feeling that I’m not alone helps to keep me on this writerly path!
      Happy writing to you! You have at least one eager reader here waiting for a finished novel out of you!

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