How to Write When You'd Rather Netflix and Chill and the 15 Steps to Get There.

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You’ve made progress on your novel. You’re on your second draft and past the halfway point. You can’t believe it. Once you’re done with this, the novel will need work, edits, polish, maybe even one more rewrite.

The second draft is coherent in a way that the rough draft was not. The rough draft was a mess. Once you have finished the second draft, you have finally finished a book - a novel that needs work, but still a book.

Then your monkey mind starts swinging through the trees and your ADD goes off the chain. You can’t focus.

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You remember you forgot to pay the garbage bill. Then while you’re on your phone to pay that bill, you see 2 Facebook Messenger notifications, and wonder who is reaching out to you?

You open them only to find out it’s a nudge to say hello to your latest Facebook friend and another is an annoying group chain.

You leave the conversation and scroll through your feed only to find garbage. You wonder why don’t have the nerve to disable your Facebook account because the bastards are violating your privacy anyway.  

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Then you remember that you forgot to pay the frigging garbage bill, and if you don’t pay it today you’ll be charged late fees. So you actually pay the bill, and suddenly, watching your favorite Netflix series sounds like the perfect reward for paying that garbage bill at the 11th hour.

But wait a minute. You haven’t written your pages today. You didn’t write your pages yesterday either, or the day before. You feel the stirrings of panic in your belly and guilt weighing your shoulders down into the I-hate-myself slump.

You lose momentum when you miss writing days. You know every day you miss writing only makes it worse because then the Shame Monster comes to life and laughs in your face.

“Slacker,” the Shame Monster chortles. “You’ll never finish that book. I knew you didn’t have it in you.”

I like happy endings.

So in this version of the story, your will resurrects from the dead and comes to the rescue.

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Step 1) Tell the Shame Monster to go *%$# itself;

Step 2) Grab a notebook and pen.

Step 3) Write every bit of nonsense and distraction you can think of, every random thought that comes to your head. Write freely and keep your pen moving. Write until you feel calmer, more focused. If you want to time yourself, go ahead.

Step 4) Have a light snack. This step is optional.

Step 5) Open your laptop (or typewriter, some people still use these) and get to the last chapter you were working on when you got distracted. Read that chapter out loud.

Step 6) Any awkward places or light editing that comes to mind, go ahead and make those changes. That gets you back inside your story.

Step 7) When you get to the last lines of the unfinished scene, WRITE. Even if your writing is clumsy, KEEP WRITING until you finish that scene or that chapter.

Step 8) If the writing sucks, allow it. That’s what rewriting the next day is for.

Step 9) Have a light snack.

Step 10) Keep writing. If finishing that scene or chapter didn’t bring you to your minimum word count goal, continue writing the next scene or chapter until you have.

Step 11) If your writing sucks, allow it. That’s what rewriting the next day is for.

Step 12) Write past your minimum word count goal. You’ve slacked off and you need to push through that resistance until you’re in love with yourself and your writing again.

Step 13) Once you feel complete, close down your laptop.

Step 14) Do a happy dance.

Step 15) Netflix and Chill without shame.

For more advice on how to discipline that ADD monkey mind, click here.

The Don't Wanna's

Resistance.In.Writing

What part of writing do you resist the most? What is the least enjoyable? What do you put off until the last minute? For me, it’s setting. I used to hate writing setting. Most of my early pieces I naturally wrote in a void of the timeless and spaceless. Even as a reader, I’ve always found the description of place to be very boring. Setting slows down the pacing of action, and sometimes it seems to bring the story to a halt. If I had my way, the reader would simply fill in the setting details themselves without any help from me. And of course, setting has always been one of my weakest areas in writing. Perhaps that may be the clue as to why I’ve disliked it so much.

But it doesn’t work that way. A well-developed setting is needed for world-building, and not all readers share my tastes. Many readers savor the description of setting. They love it when a writer makes a place real for them whether it’s historical, fictional, or actual.

I remember the first time I wrote a setting piece that did my teacher proud. She said it was one of the best pieces on setting she’d ever read – which was a high compliment. In that particular piece, I wrote setting as a character. I wrote about the town I grew up in, a place that I hated from the point of view of its culture as a personality. So there was a lot of energy and even passion to what I wrote. It was cathartic and healing to make fun of my hometown through the written word. I would even say I enjoyed it.

Since then, I’ve been able to tackle setting in my stories with less reluctance and more willingness. I try to make the descriptions beautiful and sumptuous, and therefore more interesting to read. I also try to make the sense of time and place unique and fantastical. After all, this is a fantasy world I’m writing about, so make it beyond this ordinary world.

Yet it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the settings in my novel are nameless. The setting of the Ella Bandita stories is vaguely any country in pre-Industrial Europe, the implication that the country in question could be Italy or Spain or Portugal. Yet there are some scenes with winter and heavy snowfall – in the 3rd novel, snow and ice play a crucial part of creating a setting. So that could be the northern, Scandinavian countries. In other words, I make the setting to suit what I need in the novel, and I’m not going to restrict myself to one particular country, its history, or its limitations. It is also the part of my work that I focus on last, filling in the details as I rewrite.

I wish I had some strong words of wisdom on how to tackle those areas of resistance, those areas of weakness. The only advice I can give is to keep working on it, and perhaps take notes on writers who are strong in your areas of weakness.

Here’s a lovely blog by Jill Kemerer on her tips on strengthening weak areas of writing: https://jillkemerer.blogspot.com/2014/10/strengthening-weak-areas-in-your-writing.html

So how are some of the ways you handle an area of writing you don’t like or are even weak in? Writing setting as a character in one instance worked to open me up. Even if I still address setting last of all, I wouldn’t say that I hate to write it.