Tag Archives: curiosity

Facing the Blank Page…Again

Every writer I know has trouble writing. — Joseph Heller

The blank page taunts me again. It demands my attention, requires me to make the Big Decision. In order to do what they love, writers make sacrifices. Some writers don’t think of them as sacrifices while others feel guilty about them. Writers also need to really get to know how their minds work in order to survive writing. Curiosity rules the writer’s mind, especially a curiosity of why human beings behave as they do. Trouble writing can be about the writing itself (find the right words, editing, grammar, narrative structure, etc.) or about creating the conditions in a life in order to be able to sit at the desk to write.

Yesterday, a realization seared my mind. The Blank Page was throwing a tantrum in order to get my attention, and when I stopped long enough to pay attention, the thought marched through my mind like a screaming subtitle across the screen of my life: I needed to focus my attention and just do it.

What does that mean? For the rest of the day, I reflected, had discussions with myself in my mind, and finally realized that I’d been giving myself too many free passes. My Attention Butterfly flits from one interest to another, never staying too long in one place before moving on to something else. My imagination latches on to an idea and spins endless variations on it, testing different directions, capturing my attention away from what I know is most important to me in my life. Granted, it’s been a rough year lifewise, and that’s interfered with a lot. But it looks like my life will be settling down and now it’s time to return to my creative process and trust it.

My “Office”

What does that mean? The short answer: I need to laser aim my focus on my writing. I feel a tremendous pressure, both mentally and physically, to stop restlessly wandering and concentrate on my creative process, figure out what I need to do to nurture it now, and then spend the time I need to spend to get down on paper (or the computer screen) all the stories that have been skipping around in my mind lately. I’ve known for a long time that my ravenous curiosity can consume me, and what I need to do is put it on a diet of writing or writing-related food. It’s particularly helpful when I’m doing research for something, and I’ll need to ratchet it up to research questions that have been coming up as I’ve been working on the Aanora story.

So, the “blank page” I’m writing about this time isn’t actually a piece of paper or the computer screen, but the dedication to writing. I have writing projects lined up like planes on a runway. But the control tower isn’t paying attention.

I know what I need to do, and I’m determined to do it again as I have in the past in order to write and write and write, i.e. establish a writing schedule and cut everything else out of my life. A comment by a writer in a magazine yesterday also hit home — the writer was talking about how the more writing a writer does on a consistent schedule, usually daily, the better the writing becomes, the faster it hits the page. I experienced this in 2007 when I edited a draft of Perceval’s Secret, then immediately wrote the first draft of Perceval’s Shadow and half of the first draft of Perceval in Love in about 10 months before life stepped in front of that writing train and stopped it cold.  I would love to get that kind of momentum going again, even with a fulltime job stealing time away from the writing during the work week.

My imagination is ready. My mind is ready. What about yours?

P. S. If you’d like to read my first Facing the Blank Page, it’s here.

FOCUS!…and stay healthy

Each January, I write down my goals for the coming year.  I have personal goals and writing goals.  Each goal tends to be broad, so I also break it down into more specific goals that, when attained, will lead to the broader goal’s accomplishment.  One of my broad goals for 2013 is to improve my focus so I’m not so easily distracted.  Since childhood, I’ve been curious about everything in the world, and especially people.  Curiosity is a wonderful characteristic to have as a writer, but it also tends to enable a scattered focus.

I don’t want to stop being curious.  Story and character ideas emerge out of curiosity’s itch and trying to satisfy it.  Satisfying curiosity, however, devours time and energy.  How do I channel my curiosity into a part of the day when I can indulge it without guilt?

This question brought two answers to mind.  First, I need more time for my writing.  Second, I need to be more loyal to my work day’s structure, i.e. my writing time in the morning.  Two specific goals emerged: one, on work days, to get out of bed consistently at 6 a.m.; and two, on work days, block out the mornings for uninterrupted writing and nothing else.  I know from past experience that when I block out the time and stick to it, I can get a lot done.  These two goals will test my discipline and determination.

So far, I’ve not been able to even begin to work on these two goals.  Why?  Well, there’s nothing like a cold or the flu to derail everything.  I caught a cold nearly two weeks ago, this year’s version of the creeping crud that hangs on, and on, and on.  Then, one of my chronic illnesses decided to go on the rampage, and I was down for the count, as they say, dealing with both health issues.  If I’m going to accomplish anything, I’ve learned, my body has to be a willing partner in the endeavor.  If she’s not up to the tasks at hand, I usually cannot get anything done.  I used to fight her, too.  I’d push and push, and it usually just made me feel worse physically.  So now, if I’m sick, my body takes first priority.  I must be well to work.  I must be well to focus.

This past Monday, I began to feel better despite the drippy nose and continuing cough, both of which I still have.  But I was back on my feet.  My focus this past week has been on the job search, and using my organizational skills to prepare for my new writing schedule.  This coming Monday, I plan to roll out of bed at 6 a.m. and be at my desk before 8 a.m. to spend the morning working on the nonfiction book.  Another goal I have for writing this year: to write when my imagination plays so I don’t lose so many good ideas (or lose the opportunity to test them out for viability).

What are your writing goals for 2013?  (Stay healthy, dear readers!)