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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.

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13 Comments
  1. August 2, 2010 12:24 am

    Ack! I knew there had to be a name for it. I have the problem so much lately. Partly I have been wondering if it’s because I’m writing in a genre I want to be good at rather than a genre I actually am good at. Either way, I have been dealing with writer’s laze a lot lately.

    Things that have been helping me:

    1. Talking about it with my husband. This totally goes against my belief of keeping your mouth shut during a project to not let it lose steam, but it is helping.
    2. Keep a couple side projects on the go as well. Besides the main WIP I’m trying to get written, I have two other projects I play with every now and then to keep me in the writer’s groove.
    3. Experiment. If nothing else, I have learned that just a few years can have a huge difference on what time of day is best for me to write, whether longhand really is my preferred method, what I want to write and what I need to write, etc. So lately I have been trying different things to see what now feels natural, as opposed to trying to keep myself stuck in the writing habits box I created as a teen.

    Anywho, best of luck to both of us for getting in gear and going!

  2. August 2, 2010 12:31 am

    As a newbie (see me drop modern internet slang like a natural!) writer I found this piece affirming in a oh-so-its-not-just-me way. All that time wasted slouching around reading comics, drinking ale and carousing weighs heavily on my guilt quotient. Yet, through more luck than judgment – that is CW and flash fiction – I have chanced upon all but the first and last of your tips and found they add fuel to my creative fire. So if I can only resist building a house I don’t have much of an excuse to Set some goals and Write especially if I don’t want to. Cheers.

  3. August 2, 2010 1:15 am

    I love it Chris. Writers Laze seems to fall between writers block and writers apathy. I think its cyclic and gratefully periodic. And if you can acknowledge it for what it is, and that is only temporary… it can be fine. It can even be productive in the long term, if you treat it as some creative time out.

    But if you let yourself linger there too long, Writers Laze has the potential to slide on into Writers Apathy without you even noticing it.

    My Laze isn’t about writing – its about submitting. And being surrounded by writers who are submitting and getting published is really stoking the fires. Rather than be jealous of what they’re doing… or copping out and saying its “luck” (its not – they’re very talented writers), its prodding me. It is forcing me to be responsible. It’s telling me my laze or barely concealed ambivalence about this step of the writing process needs to be gotten over – sooner rather than later, thank you ma’am.

    Awesome article… thanks for handing me a precious day to get on top of my editing stack.

  4. August 2, 2010 5:42 am

    Writers Laze… LOL… love it! great article Chris – thanks so much for sharing your wisdom

  5. August 2, 2010 6:36 am

    Wow, great article Chris!!

  6. adampb permalink
    August 2, 2010 7:42 am

    I’m a n00b at this new-fangled “goal” thing (@Jason, check out my l33t interweb skillz with the lingo :).) I’m finding that being diligent with writing for a deadline once a week is helping. It has promoted some new thoughts of a serial, which I have sketched out a basic 12 episode structure (now to fill in the gaps). And I have another serial in the Thought Bucket (which I might push towards a novel). Keeping the goals realistic is important – having a day job which often takes up nights means keeping many things in the air.
    Must keep writing.

  7. August 2, 2010 8:32 am

    I am with you there, Chris. I “research” far too much. Thankfully, my writerly friends keep me in line.

    I had a bit of scare last year, sitting in the doctor’s office afraid. I was thinking – I never finished my novel. The scare evaporated… thankfully, but I still haven’t finished my novel.

    I am working on a plan, and intend to force strict deadlines… I will finish it yet.

    Great post, Chris! I am glad it’s not just me.
    ~2

  8. August 2, 2010 11:24 am

    You have described what I’ve been dealing with all year! My writers laze is more about life being crazy busy than it is about me choosing to watch TV or youtube, but there are clearly “excuses” in there, too. I’ve been wondering what my fellow writers do to make writing so successful for them (at least from where I sit it’s successful for the rest of you!).

    Thanks for the great article.

  9. August 2, 2010 12:19 pm

    I think that’s a perfect description of how I feel sometimes. Sometimes it’s that I want to write, but I don’t want to sit down and do the work. Does that make sense?

    Goals definitely have helped me. And I’ve networked with a few writers… but I’m still looking for a group that I can call “mine,” you know what I mean? I’m working on it though 🙂

    Thanks for the great article! And it’s definitely nice to know that someone else feels the same way I do. 🙂

  10. August 2, 2010 2:31 pm

    I feel better now knowing there’s a name for it – writer’s laze or creative laze, either is perfect. Now I just have to get over it! Love the idea of planning for procrastination, too.

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