Tag Archives: drill sergeant

‘Magic’ Monday?

There’s no denying it now. The year has started. Things are back to whatever normality they are accustomed to occupy. There are no more excuses. My inner drill sergeant is clearing his throat and getting ready to shriek, and I have no valid way of shutting him up.

Photo Credit: Defence Images via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Defence Images via Compfight cc

A shame, then, that my brain feels like it could really use another couple of weeks off, but that’s what self-discipline is for. Right? I’ve already been far too lenient in allowing myself to stay away from my WiP since before Christmas (eek!), but I refuse to feel guilty. Even though I’ve seen other writers posting on social media about how they worked through the holiday season, scribbling away until 2 a.m. every night, making the most of the break (I most assuredly did not do this), I refuse to beat myself up. Even if I spent my evenings binge-watching Game of Thrones and drooling, slightly, onto my couch.

That’s over now, though. No more drooling. Drooling is out for 2015.

It’s time to get focused once again.

I made a good start, I have to admit, by meeting up (albeit sort of accidentally) with a pair of fellow writers yesterday. We are all at different stages in the process, which made it even more interesting. One of us is shiny and fully fledged, published and all (her book is available here, in case it sounds like your kind of read), and one of us is me, of course, who’s sort of midway, and the other’s a prolific short story writer and committed writing course attendee who probably knows more about writing than I ever will, and who is just about to finish the first draft of her novel. It was great to talk to people who know how it feels to battle your way to the end of a Work-in-Progress, and to face the editing process, and who’ve stood on the precipice of rejection and lived to tell the tale. It was good for my other half, too, who got to talk to another ‘writing widower’ about how annoying… I mean, endearing, it is to watch your wife’s eyes glaze over and her mind flitter off elsewhere when you’re halfway through a conversation. It did him good to have a shoulder to cry on. I think they concocted a support group, actually, which they’re going to call the ‘Anti-Social Network’, designed to gently encourage Twitter-addicted partners to get off the internet and focus on reality. Good luck with that, guys.

In any case, though this was an excellent (and enjoyable) start to my writing life in 2015, it wasn’t quite as good as getting my backside into my writing seat and actually putting words on a page. Hopefully, I’ll get to that today, if I can channel the magic of this ‘magic’ Monday and get my mojo fired up.

And if the house cleaning, decoration removal, and general tidy-up after Christmas duties don’t snow me under first, that is…

Good luck with your own self-discipline today, whatever it is you’re getting back to after the break. I hope a productive, happy and pleasingly busy day awaits – and if there are words in it, all the better.


Sir, Yes Sir!

I know, now, why so many people who aspire to writing never actually manage to achieve their aims. It’s not necessarily down to a lack of talent, or a dearth of ambition, or a shortfall in the amount of effort they put into it, but perhaps – at least, if I’m anything to go by – it’s because they try too hard.

Image: ecocatlady.blogspot.com

Image: ecocatlady.blogspot.com

I’ve been working very hard on ‘Tider’ over the past few days. Since I finished draft 1 last Friday, I’ve managed to get to the end of draft 2, which involved making major content changes; I’ve also gone through the text again fixing and tweaking as I go, which I wouldn’t consider a ‘draft’, as such, but it was still hard work. It has been a challenge, and I am tired.

Even as I write all this out, I’m telling myself that it’s silly to do so much so quickly. I know, however, that there’s no other way I can do it. It’s they way I work, and has always been the way I work, to tackle a job head-on and to throw myself into it right from the start. I also have a hard time taking a rest until the job is done. Even as a student at school, I used to push myself to reach a certain point in my studies before I could take a break; if I didn’t manage to reach a certain chapter, or write a particular number of pages worth of work, or whatever it was, I wouldn’t allow myself to have a snack or go to the loo.

Who needs a Drill Sergeant when you do this to yourself?

Image: newgrounds.com

Image: newgrounds.com

This is all very well when you’re preparing for exams, or when you have a major project at work that needs to be done, or when you have a manager or a boss breathing down your neck. Of course, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a work ethic, or to be motivated to do a job quickly and to the best of your ability. I’m just not so sure it’s always easily applicable to the job of writing a book, which is something that requires perfect balance between a person’s body and mind, and which you can’t do if you’re tired or burnt out, and which you’ll find challenging if you’re screaming at yourself inside your head, urging yourself on to the next goal. ‘Get the Job Done!’ doesn’t always help you to achieve a delicate thing like creating, sustaining and finishing a story.

I know all this, but it’s hard to switch your mind from one ‘mode’ of working to another. I haven’t been successful, as yet.

There’s a lot about ‘Tider’ that I’m not happy with. I don’t like the ending – I seem to have a problem with endings, no matter how long or short the piece I’m writing is! – and there’s not enough peril; the stakes aren’t high enough for our brave protagonist. I’m still working through the challenges that come with writing a story which is narrated in the first person, where your protagonist has deliberately been kept in the dark about a lot of issues which turn out to be very important ones for her; as she learns, the reader learns. For a writer, though, trying to get this across without ‘info-dumping,’ or telling the reader too much in too blunt a manner, is difficult.

I think, however, for the sake of the book’s future, and in an attempt to make sure I don’t end up flinging the whole thing in the bin in frustration, I’d better take a step back and try to rest today. I know my brain will yell at me, and I’ll probably feel an inexplicable urge to stand to attention (though hopefully not to shave my head), but I’ll have to cope with that as and when it happens.

Ten… Hut!

Have a good Thursday. Try to take it easy on yourself, if you can.