When Your Own Bad Writing Makes You Sick

Ever look back and read work you’ve done in the past to realize it sucks so bad you almost feel physically ill?

Yep, that happened to me in a big way Sunday. The previous week my son started school on Wednesday, so I started working on my new novel with gusto (I’d been waiting all summer to start!), but realized I had some background information and research that needed to be done first. Then I got the bright idea to read the half completed first draft of my second novel (Dark Territories) over the weekend. God, what a horrible, awful, terrible disappointment that turned out to be.

I couldn’t even get all the way through two chapters before I decided I’d had enough, because I was real close to vomiting. Yeah, it was that bad. And I can’t even pinpoint one specific thing that was terrible. There was a well balanced amount of terribleness from stiff and completely out of character dialogue to plot leaps that would make a mountain goat proud. There were tie-ins from one story arc to another that left me wondering exactly how much I had to drink that day. And please don’t even get me started on my long windedness. I could probably make a schooner set sail with all that blustering air moving about in each scene.

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Writing, a Never Ending Journey of Exploration and Learning

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow

If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.

When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.

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A Writer’s Worst Enemy

I’ll give you two guesses to see if you know the answer to this question… what is a writer’s worst enemy?

Hmmm…

Well, I suppose it could be all sorts of things like not having enough time to write, a writing muse who decides to take an extended vacation, or here’s a goodie… the computer is broken and every pencil, pen, and blank piece of paper has mysteriously disappeared. Lol… okay so maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch (or maybe not — but I’m pleading the fifth on that one).

But no, it’s none of those things.

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Writing Procrastination and What To Do About It

Procrastination plagues all writers at one time or another in the writing journey. It’s a barrier that must be broken through to be a writer, and separates the casual writer from the real writers. Procrastination a tricky beast that takes on the face of many problems like writer’s block, the missing muse, the “I don’t have time to write” excuse, or how about the “I can’t write, because I’m just not that good at it anyways.”

Say what!? That stuff isn’t procrastination. No. No. No. Those things are real problems. Really they are. Aren’t they?

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The Nomad Writer: Writing on the Go

A blog was recently posted in A Writer’s Journey by frootbat31 about Where the Magic Happens. It basically showcased her spot for writing and the importance of your writing area and how it effects your writing abilities. I found this intriguing and decided to take a look at my own writing habits and place. I discovered something important that, in fact, I am Nomad.  Nomad you say? Yes, I don’t have one specific spot that I write. I do have my favorite spots, but I don’t have one area that I have marked off and claimed my own. Instead, I have my noble trusty steed that is my writing friend and confidant. I whip him out when I feel the tingling sensation to write, or I simply want to stare at a black screen and wish I could write something. He is and always forever will be my friend, the laptop. So is there a downside to being a Nomadic writer with the writing area that varies from one time to the next? I think there are some pros and cons. Let’s start with the cons.


Con #1: Organization
Or maybe I should say the lack of it, but then I never was one for being a clean desk kind of person, even when I had one, so really is this even relevant to me. Probably not, but there does seem to be a loss of space to put my growing stack of hand written notes, or helpful reference of writing books, or place to put sticky reminder notes. But in reality when I did have a desk those things either collected inches worth of dust or became lost in the massive clutter of the desk.

Con #2: Central Location
Having one place that you write is a good thing to act as a central location to find your important writing things like manuscripts, idea stash, or reference books. Granted a lot of those things are now digital, but even still I seemed to have amassed quite a large pile of writing stuff that have become ever shifting piles stacked on the bedroom floor or the overflowing bookshelves in the hallway. So an office with desk and bookshelf would probably help reduce the fog of writing materials to at least one area where I might be able to find them when needed.

Con #3: A Place to Get in the Zone
Sometimes I find it difficult to put on my writing hat and write. When I fire up the trusty laptop I might drift into No Man’s Land and hours later find my time was sucked into the timewarp of Facebook or some other evil website with time sucking abilities. I pretend shock and dismay at my naughtiness, but really I knew what I was doing the whole time. We are creatures of habit and so if we are used to surfing the Net on the laptop or other things besides what we should be doing, then we do so. If you have a specific place that you do ONLY writing then when you sit down to write, you are more likely to do just that. An example of that is that I love going to coffee shops to write (when I get the chance, which isn’t very often). I go there strictly to write and so what do I do when I get there? Yep, you got it, I write and I usually get lots of it done.

Okay, so we took a look at the Cons, so let’s see if the Pros out weight them.

Pro #1: Mobility
This one, of course, is the most obvious. It’s kind of hard to whip out a desktop computer on the kitchen table while making dinner, or lug the thing to the sofa while you have a quick writing session when your three year old is temporarily distracted by an episode of the Wonder Pets. The benefit of mobility reigns king in a house that has only little bits of time here or there to do something like actually writing.

Pro #2: Portability
This sort of goes with Pro number one, but it is a little different. I consider portability being able to go outside the home and take all your important writing files and writing desk with you. If you take a trip, write somewhere other than home, or go to a writing meeting, a laptop is ready to go. It’s as simple as sliding the laptop into a case and slinging it over your shoulder, which immediately transports your office anywhere you like.

Pro #3: Easy Access
I don’t know about you, but making the effort to go into a special room, sit down to fire up the desktop, or get everything setup to write can prohibit writing, at least for me it has. It makes it easier to say, “well maybe not right now.” “I don’t have enough time,” or maybe “I’m just too tired to go through the effort.” That is when pulling out the trusty old steed really comes in handy, though you could also make a case for the fact that taking the effort at sitting down at the desktop will put you in the mood to write. But there simply are times where it just isn’t plausible or that simple. I suppose you could always whip out the handy dandy notebook and pen, but then you aren’t in your normal writing space so you aren’t use to writing anywhere else, which leads me to Pro number 4.


Pro #4: Being Used to Writing Anywhere
Habits are good, but they can also hold us back. If you become so used to writing in only one place all the time, then you might find it difficult to write anywhere else. What happens when you go on a trip, or are sick and can’t get out of bed? These are not things that will happen very often, but still will your muse come down to shower you with inspiration when you haven’t retreated to your den of perpetual writing?

Which is better? A place of stability or a nomadic life? I suppose it depends on the writer and what works best for them. In a perfect world you might be able to do both and get away with it, but let’s face it, it’s going to be one or the other and if you own a laptop, chances are your going to use it more than the desktop. The writing desk becomes a place where dust bunnies go to grow and multiple, while you hop from one place to another forgetting the desk full of writing supplies and resources. Every once in awhile you may venture back into the room of decaying furniture, but only when you’re looking for that one specific thing you forgot even existed until your cobwebbed brain said, “Oh, yeah, I’ve got that somewhere, now where did I put it?”