If we’re honest, us writers tend to be a little on the obsessive side. We get an idea, a character forms, and before we know it, we’re tits deep in 30,000 words of wordish vomit. We swim in it like it’s a jacuzzi with naked waiters continuously handing out glasses of champagne. No one wants to get out of that jacuzzi, I know I sure as shit don’t.
But sometimes, after you’ve been chucking up the good kind of word vomit (the one that’s rough round the edges but makes pretty pictures in the middle) all of a sudden it stops. Then you’re pouring out illegible turds, minus the glitter and shine.
Something’s broke. Really broke. It’s not writers block, because the words still come. Only now they’re turd-words instead of smothered with genius literary butter.
Now, no matter what you do, the pretty word vomit won’t come back. So what do you do? If you’re anything like me, you either:
- Beat yourself with a pen chain and spiral bound notepad until your face is pitted with imprints or
- Fall into a deep pit of self-deprecating writerly hatred
Neither of which are particularly effective at producing anything other than obscure shaped bruises. Trust me.
I had to try something new… So today, is less of a crazy lesson with bookish explanations and crude examples, and instead a lesson I’ve learnt through experience on my writing journey.
I’m working on 13 Steps to Evil right now, it’s my non-fiction book designed to help writers create the best villains possible. But something was off. It wasn’t hanging right and I couldn’t get the examples right. No matter what I did, crapsicles kept falling onto the page instead of the glorious wordery I was wanted.
The book was fucked. Royally. And it was in serious danger of being resigned to fuckit bucket so I could move on and write the prequel to Keepers (my first fiction novel which is with beta readers right now). But I don’t give up. Ever. And villains wasn’t about to beat me this time either.
What do you do in the case of word-turd? Let me know in the comments below.
I decided that if hammering away through the word shite wasn’t working, there was only one other option.
Just fucking stop. I put down the proverbial pen, and stepped the fuck away from the computer.
I know. I know. Don’t freak out…. But apparently a writer can stop… you know… writing. Seriously, it’s true. I did it. Despite shocking the shit out of myself and walking around like a lost ghost sheep. I actually stopped writing.
I mean, I don’t ever stop. Like never. There are no Sundays, no mid-week rests or Friday nights off for a takeaway.
I write E.V.E.R.Y.S.I.N.G.L.E.F.U.C.K.I.N.G.D.A.Y
My kind of ‘binge’ on a Friday night, doesn’t involve mini skirts, excessive eyeliner and wine buckets. It involves frantic slapping of the keyboard, adding more forehead grooves to my brow than Grammy’s, filling my table with stale discarded coffee cups and post-its. LOTS OF POST-ITS.
I started writing every day because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. I’d read it somewhere. So it must be true. Only, back then, I knew shit all and didn’t realise that what everyone meant was not that you had to write everyday, but build a habit.
It doesn’t matter if you write for 10 minutes a day, or 1 hour every three days. The point is, if you want to be a writer, you need to integrate writing into your life, treat it like a job.
Anyhoozle, I wrote everyday until the habit became an obsession, that became an addiction. Now, if I even get a whiff that I might not be able to write of an evening, or lunchtime or anytime, I’m like an angry bitch protecting her new cubs. Come anywhere near my laptop or headspace and I’m guna rip your head off and make your spine a chew toy for my characters.
So I stopped writing. I didn’t know how long I’d stop for. I just had to stop. I put the pen lid back on and walked away. I did other shit, like live. Talk to my writing-widow wife, meditate, listened to music and tried not to think about writing or the villain shaped problem.
I’d committed to taking a break and if that meant a week off and deadlines having to shunt, then so be it, and if you know anything about me, you know that deadlines do not move. I’d rather cut out my kidney and pawn it for a roach infestation than move a deadline.
Praise be the karmic power of a break because it didn’t take long for the answer to arrive. I had two issues.
- Apparently, I am a pathetic pawn, a disembodied slave to my characters who write the book for me. It was only when I realised there were no sodding characters in non-fiction that I worked out why it was so effing hard to write. BALLS.
- Villains started as a series of blog posts, that became crazy popular and still get me tens of thousands of views every year. So when I started writing the book, I just sort of carried on. I figured I’d pants my way through it, you know, like fiction, when you make shit up. Umm, No. Wrong. So fucking wrong. Non-fiction requires quite the structure, instensive planning and careful consideration of EVERYTHING. Or at least it does for me. And there I was convinced I was an out and out pantser.
You don’t need my permission, but you have it. Next time you vomit word turd on the page, just fucking stop. Step away from the computer, take a chill pill, drink wine, motorboat a cupcake, smoke a joint, whatever your poison take it in large quantities and when you’ve recovered, go back and write on my story soldiers.
Sometimes we just need to stop, breathe and write on.
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