Tag Archives: planning a novel

Recalibrating the Focusing Apparatus

You may have noticed, astute reader, that I haven’t been talking about writing very much on the blog lately. Instead, I’ve been waxing lyrical about body image and issues of ableism and feminism and doing the odd book review, all of which is well and good of course but not exactly what one might expect from the blog of a person who claims to be a writer.

This is, naturally, a dreadful situation, for which I apologise.

It’s not because I’ve been going through a period of ‘block’ – a phenomenon I’ve been reading about on a lot of blogs lately, with some people deciding it exists and others saying it’s nothing but fear/laziness/lack of ambition, which I don’t believe to be true – or that I haven’t been actually doing any writing. I have been writing, and it has been flowing; sometimes more in a trickle than a gush, but it’s been there in one form or another. The problem is this: I’ve been going through a period of ‘The Fear’ again. My brain’s been rushing around like a mayfly, trying to do everything possible in a very short space of time, resting nowhere, focusing on nothing, giving everything a scant flicker of attention instead of doing its best to focus on one thing at a time. I have had a head full of ideas and plans for the past few weeks, and I’ve been trying to think about my life long-term and what I want it to be. All of this, without question, has diverted my focus from what I should be doing, which is putting words on paper.

Image: bepositivemom.com

Image: bepositivemom.com

I started back into ‘Tider’ with a vengeance yesterday, forcing myself to sit down and calm my oscillating mind long enough to get back into the story. It wasn’t easy to do this, and I don’t think I fully succeeded with it, but I know I did the best I could. I did manage to get some words out, and I’ve moved the story on a little, and things are – on the surface, at least – perfectly calm and under control.

My brain, however, is still twitchy.

This morning, before I started writing this blog post, I wrote out some ideas for ‘Tider’, and where I’d like to bring the story. I’m not used to writing without an exhaustive plot, which I’ve spent months working out, sitting beside my computer keyboard, and as freeing as it is to work the plot out as you go, I’m wondering if this is part of my attack of The Fear. It seems silly to admit that, but I do think it’s true. Who would have thought the style of plotting for a book – such a small little thing! – could be so terrifying? I keep reminding myself that what I’m writing at the moment counts as a first draft, with all the freedoms that go with it – I have permission to turn out a piece of work that is less than perfect. That’s what first drafts are for. But perhaps because I’ve had ‘Tider’ in my head for so long, in various forms, and I’ve written it before, it’s hard to remember that this is a first draft. I’m treating it, on one level, like a piece of work for which I have a looming deadline and which absolutely has to be perfect before that date.

I'm wondering if taking this up would be a good idea... Image: anthonybasich.com

I’m wondering if taking this up would be a good idea…
Image: anthonybasich.com

A rational examination of my life yields the following results: the book is working fine, I am still writing, everything is okay. I am on track.

I still feel afraid, though. Also, yes, I do realise how out of whack all this sounds.

It’s probably a result of a lot of factors – preparing for a future career and trying to plan for it, dealing with the rejections that are still coming in and about which I do not talk (stiff upper lip and all that), trying not to lose faith in myself and really doing my best to maintain my belief that this writing thing – in whatever form I can manage it – is where I need to be, and where my life is going.

It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even though I’m used to working alone, and keeping myself focused toward an end goal. It’s so tough to quieten your inner voice, the one that wants to bring you down and make you fail just so it can say ‘I told you so!’ It’s difficult to keep shoring up the foundations of your confidence when the world erodes away just another little piece of it. So far, I’m managing, but I have a lot of support, and I know that’s the only reason I’m still here.

So, I’m taking a few deep breaths and facing into a new day. I’m opening my computer file like it’s taking a step into a playground, where I’m allowed to have fun, and I’m going to try to keep reminding myself of that all day long. Hopefully, before too long, my brain will remember how to settle and focus, and we’ll get through this thing.

Happy Tuesday to you; I wish you peace, fulfilment and joy, happiness in whatever you’re doing today, and the success of a satisfied mind.