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Diary of An Apathetic Wannabe

August 2, 2010

I’m moving out of the Monday chair for the month of August to focus on completing Chinese Whisperings’ 2010 project “The Yin & Yang Books.”  In the coming month you’ll hear from Chris Chartrand, Tony Noland, Claudia Osmond and Carrie Clevenger. Thanks to each and everyone of you. See you in September – Jodi.

I love to write.  So why don’t I?  I mean, I do write, but I want to write more.  I’m the kind of person who almost always has some nugget or some snippet of dialogue, sometimes entire scenes, pop into my head throughout the day.   But there is always some sort of barrier between me and my computer.  Some of it is legit, I have a day job.  I’ve also decided to build a house.  Those two are enough to fill my plate, yet I find myself, more often than not, watching a movie, playing a video game or, reading.

I try to play it up as research into story structure, dialogue mechanics, whatever but really I’m just watching a movie, playing a video game or reading.  So if I’m already honest with myself and my motives, why don’t I change?   Apathy?  Maybe, but I don’t think I’m apathetic, even though I tout myself as an apathetic wannabe.  I care about things.  I care about my writing.  I care about improving my writing.  I care about people enjoying my writing.  So I wouldn’t say I’m completely apathetic.  So what is it then?

While doing some “research” on YouTube the other day (for two hours) I happened upon a video by one of my favorite writer/directors, Kevin Smith.  In the video Mr. Smith was asked what he does when he gets writer’s block; to which he replied:

“I just basically don’t have writer’s block, I get writer’s laze.  When I’m just like ‘why should I write’, you know?  Let’s see how many ‘Law and Orders’ are on today.”

And Lo, the clouds parted and I was shown the core of my problem–Creative Laze.  The difference between Kevin Smith and myself is obvious.  For him it’s not that big a deal, but for a writer with hopes of breaking through and having a book published, it’s a whole different ball game.  Mr. Smith gets to joke about it on stage in front of a sold out audience of his fans, whereas I get to flounder in obscurity forever.

They say identifying your shortcomings is the first step in invoking change.  (I don’t know if that’s what they say or who the heck “they” are, but it sounds good so I’m going with it).  I’m thinking Kevin Smith and I can’t be the only ones who have writer’s laze, so I’m going to go ahead and share four things which have helped me tremendously since my revelation.

Set Real Goals
I’ve identified a few goals for myself; both long and short term.  My long term goal is, surprise, surprise, to get a novel published.  My short term goal for this year was to get a (as in one) story published in an anthology.  I aimed low and came in at three.  It would have been easy for me, having met my goal, to stop after the first acceptance but I kept on writing.  See, I’m not that apathetic.

Set Real Deadlines
Each of my three stories had deadlines.  Which suits me fine.  I’m the type of guy who works better under pressure.  Keep in mind when your planning your procrastination, to leave enough time to send your story out to a couple of beta readers.  You’ll want to plan your task avoidance to allow your readers reasonable time to get back to you with suggestions and also some time to implement their ideas if so inclined.

Network With Other Writers
I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times.  But the fact remains, hangin with other writers is a good way to keep writing.

Get Involved In Collaborative Writing Projects
This sort of blends the second two together.  I’m involved in three collaborative projects and they are probably the best thing I have done for my writing.  Having others depend on you to produce is a pretty decent reason to keep writing.  You become very close to the writers you choose to collaborate with.  It really keeps you honest.

Write anyway, even if you reeeeeeeealy don’t want to
Seriously, write anyway, it’s what you really want to do whether you acknowledge it or not.  There are times when it’s not just writer’s laze that keeps me from writing.  Sometimes I don’t want to write because I want to save an idea rather than blow it on something I may end up not using.  Then I remind myself to get over myself and use it anyway.

Someone once told me, or I read, or saw a video, anyway the gist was use the good stuff – you thought of it in the first place, you’ll probably be able to  think of more good stuff.  Have a little faith in yourself.   One more thing, since were assuming you’re all like me.  When you get that good idea for God’s sake write it down – or forget it.  Just telling yourself “I’ll remember” doesn’t work.
So Kevin Smith and I have something in common besides a spare tire.  What about you?  Do you ever suffer from writer’s laze?  What keeps you writing?

Chris Chartrand is a somewhat regular contributor to the [Fiction] Friday prompt here at WriteAnything.  He has several stories soon to be published in three very exciting anthologies including Chinese Whisperings “The Yang Book” due out in December of this year, “The Best of FridayFlash vol. 1” due out this fall and Absolute Xpress’s “Inhuman” available now.  He also writes for the online serial “The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan”.  To read some of his fiction visit his website, The Dark Eagle.

  1. August 2, 2010 5:34 pm

    Yep, I experience this with all my creative pursuits (at the moment the laze has hit the drawing side of me!) I have found Fiction Friday an awesome way to pull me into writing regularly… I’m not writing as regularly as I’d like, but I have two blogs and am home educating my kids, growing food, sewing birthday presents AND an a sole parent so have to be realistic about how much I can achieve in one day! If I can get FF done every week then that’s a good ease in I think. Prior to this I experienced a lot of procrastination about writing, mainly because I just thought my stuff wasn’t very good and I felt guilty about taking time away from my family to do it!

  2. August 3, 2010 5:49 am

    Yeah me too. Two little kids. Brand new fulltime job. Part-time masters-level research degree. They’re the ‘must-dos’. I also quilt and sew kids clothes. And have a husband I love (and don’t see much of). Then I write. So, for me, writing is pretty far down the list and having been sick on and off all winter I have so little energy. So when I do force myself to write, it’s shit. I do get dialogue, scenes, story ideas popping into my head all the time. I even write some them down. But as for writing? Not happening right now. Soon enough though I will find some more energy somewhere.

    Thanks for the post Chris. Agreed!

  3. August 3, 2010 8:14 pm

    Chris, couldn’t agree more. It’s the fact you think you can write WHENEVER you want that stops you getting to your computer. And, let’s be honest, we can only write at night, eh?

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