Monday, 26 November 2012

Twisting Metal: Fighting Your Subconscious.


I have finally identified one of the causes of why I've suddenly slowed down in my writing so much.

All of November I've been working on the same story, just trying to get to 50,000 words, and admittedly I was sick in there for a few days so didn't write anything. However, there were hours and hours where I was at my computer, working away, strive and struggling, and after an hour I would look at it would be 500 words, or 800 words. Where, oh where were the days of 2,000+ words an hour? Why had my muse abandoned me? 

And the writing was painful, not just slow, but every sentence I wrote I would delete and try again, it was like trying to straighten out a flat piece of metal that just kept trying to curl. I would tell myself 'No, that's not what that character sounds like, she should be feeling this right now'. And so re-write. 

Now when I say it like that, does the problem seem obvious? Well, it wasn't obvious to me until last night when walking home from church I was throwing a little tantrum saying I didn't want to do it if it was going to be so hard. 

I then just got the image: what if my subconscious was trying to write a flat piece of narrative, but I was constantly getting in the way trying to twist the metal to match my views on what the character should be?

So fine, I said, you win little subconscious, I'm going to go home, get my laptop, and just sit down and write whatever you want to come out with. I won't stop you at all. You just have fun in your own little way, and I'll be the good little typist. 

Well, it took a bit to stop my elder getting in the way and just let my youth mixed with my muse and genius jump right in. I found myself deleting a sentence thinking 'that will never work' and then I made myself stop and retype it and give my inner child a chance to explain why they had done that.

And in 15 minutes I had more than I had written in an hour that morning. By the end of an hour and a bit I had written over 3,000 words. 

So tonight I tried the same thing. I got home from work having worked overtime, with my head a bit dead, so I downloaded a mediation/relaxation app on my phone and did 20mins relaxation. Don't know if it helped, but it didn't seem to hurt it.

I then opened up a blank document, closed my eyes and went for it. Annoyingly, to me at least, I ended up re-writing a whole lot of scenes that I had painstakingly knocked out previously. But after 2 hours I had 5,500 words, and they were better words than the ones I had drawn forth from my body like I was pulling out my own intestines. 

I then went through and replaced all the scenes, and as I took out about 3,000 words, I sort of don't feel I'm much ahead in the word count. But the scenes themselves are much better. Though the characters and their interactions are not what I thought! 

This type of writing is so much more relaxing, enjoyable, encouraging than what I had been doing for the rest of the month. At the end I feel refreshed, and curious to see what will happen next. So, just keep reminding yourself:

I'm just the typist, and my subconscious is the one digging for gold.

Thanks Anne Lamott. 

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