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.