Friday, June 07, 2019

Random bullets of writing inspiration

Let's have some writing inspiration, shall we?

1. First, Dame Eleanor's good post on getting started again, with these words:
The only way I’ve ever found to deal with it is Virginia Valian’s: make the task smaller. As small as you need to. Ten minutes. Five. And be kind to yourself, because the piece of work is not really the problem. It’s all the emotions that have got tangled up with that piece of work.
2. Next, this piece from Laura Moss, editor of Canadian Literature, on how to get your article published:

This essay had a lot of good advice, although the single most cryptic piece of advice was this:
No. 16. Avoid theme spotting. Enough said.
Apparently a lot of readers besides me thought "theme spotting? huh? what's that?" so Moss explained in the comments:
Theme spotting is when you read with a predetermined outcome in mind and then lo and behold you find it is true. In English, this is when you say, the theme of X is prevalent in this novel and then spend the whole essay proving how it is prevalent. In other disciplines, I suspect a similar form of targeted blinkered argumentation must occur. Basically, my point is to not forget the 'so what' part. The theme might be there but why should we care. Theme spotting stops at the theme. Hope this clarifies.
 3. Here's an article about David Milch, who wrote and created or co-created (read the article if you want to sort it out) Hill Street Blues and Deadwood, among other iconic shows:
Five days a week, Milch commutes twenty-five yards along an arbor-shaded path that extends from the back of his house to a converted garage, where he writes until it’s time to break for lunch. Before he developed Alzheimer’s, he rose most days by 4:30 a.m., ready to work. He now shows up in the garage at nine-thirty or ten.
 4. At IHE, Susan D. Blum tells us how she rents a place for a week to recharge her writing, and it's worth reading. Her issue is distractions, and the retreat works great for her. Mine isn't distractions but avoidance, so I'm not sure it would work as well for me, but it's definitely writing inspiration.

Reading all these helped me to clarify the steps I have to take.

1. On one piece of writing where I know that every sentence will be torn apart by the editors to make changes that are distinctions without a difference (which contributes to the Fear that Dame Eleanor talks about): I refused to go to bed last night until I had written at least something on it. I wrote about 50 words, but that's 50 words more than I've done on it in any day in recent memory. Also, I'll try deep breathing once it's submitted and I get it back.

2. On another piece of writing, an ancient revise & resubmit that might or might not get accepted after making substantial changes: I need to reread it and figure out if it's worth revising or if I should send it somewhere else.

3. On a third piece of writing, which I got stuck on and became stale: time to revisit it.

4. On two pieces where the editors approached me and solicited the article: get on with it!


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Oh, please join me in Ancient R&R Territory! Let us hack through the underbrush and subdue the mess to our will!

xykademiqz said...

I have a book chapter that I hate working on because the draft was written by my grad students and is a steaming pile of shit yet I don't care enough about the book chapter to write it nicely from scratch anew because it would take the time from stuff I'd much rather write. So I am procrastinating because I don't want to work on this Frankenstein monster but work I must. So a finger today, a foot tomorrow.

The older I get, the more I hate editing student drafts. They write like they've never read a paper, like they've never stopped to analyze the structure of each paper or identify the staples of the technical writing genre.

As for fiction, I find that writing a drabble (a story under 100 words) really cheers me up and recharges me. There are often themed issues or comps that I write for (drabbles, longer flashes) which I also find inspiring.