writerly workout, blah

Here's a secret: sometimes I really don't want to write.* Actually, most of the time I'd really rather not write. There are so many other ways to spend time, nearly all of which aren't as silly (and likely are more lucrative) than writing. But this is what I do. 

For me, the answer to the "I don't wannas" is to do it anyway. Work for five minutes without distraction. Then see if you have another five minutes in you. If I can stack up enough five-minute blocks, usually I can lose myself in what I'm doing and go. 

If that fails, I give myself a choice between writing and some odious task, like washing dishes or weeding. Those who've seen my house know that writing wins out every single time. The trick, howeve,r, is to make sure the alternate task is something you find vile. 

So for today's workout, a question: how do you get yourself to work when you really don't want to?**

* For "write," you can insert almost any verb that feels unfun but feeds your brain/body. "Run" frequently falls into this category for me. But I always feel better for having done it.

** Unrelated: I seem to be going through a phase where I feel like I have nothing to say, like my brain is an empty stew pot. This happens every summer, which might explain why I so dislike June, July and August. May's not great, either. Feh. I say. Then feh again.

writerly workout, a heavy heart

We learned this morning that our beloved elementary school will be closed after this academic year because of budget shortfalls. The Diva is heartbroked and I'm not feeling so great myself. So today's exercise is about loss. Write about a physical object that you have lost. Not a person or a concept like innocence - focus on a tangible item. Why did it hurt to lose it? What did its loss mean? How did you move past it? What did you learn?

writerly workout, an indulgence

I have no workout for you today, for reasons that I'll explain. If you're jonesing, however, check out past workouts and give one a go.

Today, I am doing something completely indulgent and completely terrifying. I've been working on what I hope will be a novel but have been stuck at 30,000 words for a few weeks because life has been, well, life. 

For non-fiction, I can write while all sorts of heck are breaking loose around me, not limited to the occupants next door to my old Metro Pulse office having what sounded like acrobatic adult activities* on a regular basis. But fiction is different because it's not comfortable for me. Quiet is required,  as well as the complete absence of things that seem marginally more fun, like laundry or cleaning closets.

Last night, I drove to Northampton to see Brenda Dayne speak.** Today I have holed up in a cheap hotel room in order to spend the day diving back into this book and mapping out the rest of it. I think there might be something good in there. I'm terrified that I'm wrong. 

Regardless, it must be done. I've spent the last two decades wanting to write the great American space opera, however, and now is the time to get serious about it. 

There's a Dunkin Donuts across the parking lot should emergency coffee (and donuts) be required. I have the next six/eight/ten hours of nothing more interesting to do. With the book or on it.


* I still can't erase this from my brain, even now, a dozen years on.

** She was great - more later.

writerly Wednesday, the voice

A writer's voice is a lot like obscenity; you know it when you "hear" it.

Voice isn't the story, it's all of the choices that the writer makes in order to tell it. Dr. Seuss has a distinctive voice. So do Jennifer Weiner, Stephen King and Bill Bryson. You could file off all of the most distinguishing markers and still know who is telling any given story. Jennifer Weiner could tell a spooky story set in Maine and you'd still know it was her telling it.

Voice also takes a hell of a long time to develop. It's easeir to imitate the voices of the writers you love when you're just finding your way into the craft than it is to find your own. And that's fine. It's all part of the process.

For today's exercise, I'm going to give you a story outline, then you need to develop it while focusing on *your* voice. The outline: College-age man meets college-age woman. They fall in love. Complications ensue, yet they all live happily ever after (if not necessarily together).