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Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Seesaw Effect

Pen & Ink - Maria A Smith

For the last two weeks I've been suffering the seesaw effect - the ups and downs of writing. Readers of this blog will know I've gone from  night owl to morning lark. It wasn't easy, but I'm pleased to say I've done it, and my writing output has moved up several gears,  I'm motoring again.

However, I hit a rut in the road.  The story I'm working on has been problematic. After a week of frustrating morning rewrites, the seeds of doubt sprouted, and I started to believe I couldn't do it!

The issues with the story, saggy middle, little foreshadowing, and it just being all wrong for the competition brief, un-nerved me, because I couldn't find a way forward. I blundered around in the dark. My brain wasn't working how it usually does, you know, when you go off for a walk, or your'e doing other un-writerly stuff like peeling spuds for the dinner, or picking up beans in the supermarket. I started to seriously doubt my ability to write a story ever again.

It's crazy isn't it. What did I do? Everything.

Including distracting myself with a podcast over at The Joined Up Writing Podcast which by pure coincidence, just happened to be about self-doubt and how to deal with it. It's real writers telling you how it is, which is helpful, and makes you realise you're not alone. However, you still have to unstick yourself when you're stuck.

Sunday - I blogged, and read some short story anthologies.

Monday - I signed up for   RedPen run by Anne Rainbow, where you receive  weekly newsletters with links to articles to guide you through the editing process. Anne is offering FREE webinars at the moment. If you want to improve your editing skills I'd highly recommend having a look, and if you want to take it further, Anne has options for membership including further webinars, workshops and much more. Take a look, it's good stuff!

Tuesday - I took part in my first  RedPen webinar, and throughly enjoyed it! See what Patsy Collins has to say about RedPen on the womagswriter's blog and read about Anne here.

I distracted myself, doing other writerly things like listening to my audio book, and flicking through the pages of Writing Magazine. Looking back now, I can see I was trying to sort things out by doing other things.

Wednesday - I wrote. I continued punching my way through. In the evening I took part in #writingchat on Twitter, with lots of other writers. It's a regular hour a week, and it's downtime, yes, you're not writing, apart from countless tweets, but you're interacting and you're surrounding yourself with WRITERS! People like you, who understand your pain.

We discuss a different topic each week. Do drop into Twitter Wednesday 8pm - 9pm BST and search the hashtag #writingchat Jump in, and join the chatter, you'll be made very welcome.

Thursday - The self-doubt fountain overflowed. I almost cracked and hit the biscuit tin. But no, I'm made of stronger metal. Even when the scales at Slimming World went against me and declared I'd gained half a pound. Ugh! You know how it is, when things start to tumble. I won't mention the parking ticket, the lack of mobile data due to a phone upgrade error, being overcharged in Staples for notebooks and storage bins for my writing magazines (see, how I'm doing other writerly activities) or the other irritating things that occurred this week. Gratefully, nothing life threatening, or life changing, so I told myself. Get a grip Maria. What are you going to do about this story?

Friday -  I dragged myself to the laptop at 6 a.m, bleary eyed after a fitful night tossing and turning trying to sort out the problem. I wrote, it wasn't good. I cut, I hacked, I stopped, and continued my day.

I made a decision.

I decided, no more, so when the day job stopped, instead of going for a swim, I went straight home. I was a woman on a mission. I sat at the kitchen table and at 5pm the battle began. I wasn't getting up until it was done! And it came to me. In the words of Tommy Cooper, 'Just like that!' Everything dropped into place.  I filled the gaps, rewrote where needed, and the story was there. I was elated! And very hungry, it had taken me four solid hours.

I celebrated with an omelette and green salad. I sent an email to my writing buddy Wayne, attaching my shiny new story, and then I collapsed in a heap on the sofa and went to sleep.

Saturday - Feeling jubilant, I set off for Phoenix Writers. I hadn't done either the weekly challenge, or offered forward a manuscript to read out, but I did offer lots of critique and feed back to my fellow writers, who like me, have all been fighting their own writing battles this week. Afterwards I had a good old writerly natter over lunch.

Later, I took a red pen to my writing buddies work, a short story he wants to submit, and isn't it crazy how you can do that more easily to someone else's manuscript? I enjoyed the process, it's practice for when I get stuck into mine later this week. The deadline for my story is looming over me, and I really, really want to submit it.

Editing is a whole different issue, but happily, I'm back on the writing road, having killed the doubt - until the next time.

More tales of the tormented writer next week. Have a good one folks, and remember. NEVER GIVE UP. Do drop me a message in the comments. I love hearing from you.