Last week our resident authors and guests shared stories of inspiration. We talked about what inspires us to write; how we find inspiration for stories in general and what prompted us to write specific stories.
Many of us confessed in our posts that we tend to have a myriad of ideas floating around at any given time. More than one CRC author admitted to being given to chasing plot bunnies. I didn’t discuss this in my post, but I am especially guilty of it. Need evidence? Just search the Novels folder on my computer and you’ll find several dusty, half-finished manuscripts waiting to be completed.
It’s not that I don’t love each one of my poor, neglected works in progress. Nor have I lost interest in telling each story. Rather, a few things are at work:
- A serious case of monkey mind. Buddha described the myriad of thoughts running through the human mind as drunken monkeys, all clamoring for attention. I’m pretty sure mine are on speed.
- Pantsing without a plot. For many years I believed that I was a bonafide pantser. (I don’t need no stinkin’ outline!) Well, I was wrong. I need some structure and a sense of my characters before I write. After that, I let my characters take me wherever they’d like to go. When I jump in and just try to pants my way through the story, I inevitably hit a wall.
- Acting as if there are 48 hours in my day. I have many interests (see monkey mind above). Most of which are quite time-consuming. Freelance writing, school, volunteering, a family business and…oh yeah…fiction writing. The ambitious me who believes she can do all of this has apparently never met the perfectionist me who won’t budge until I’m content or the procrastinator me who would rather do laundry and mop floors than figure out how to fix a broken plot line. All three of us consistently underestimate how long it will take to complete a project and therefore stuff far too many of them in a single day.
- Fear. I know that the next step in my career is indie publishing. Yet, as much as the prospect excites me, it also scares me to death. Can you say self-sabotage?
These revelations aren’t new. It’s a battle I’ve been waging for some time. Sometimes I stand atop the hill, victorious. More often, I feel scattered and struggle. Everything gets accomplished, but I’m left feeling anxious and out of breath.
Well, not everything gets done. In the list of priorities, it is always my fiction writing that comes in dead last. Thus the incomplete manuscripts that I fiddle with and revise whenever I have some “free” time.
I feel miserable because no matter how much I accomplish, it isn’t the thing I want to accomplish most–finishing those manuscripts.
Recently I was chatting with a friend about a mutual client. She’s his writing coach; I’m editing his memoir. I was complaining to her about this very topic–the languishing manuscripts that I desperately want to complete–when it suddenly hit me: I need a coach.
It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for about five years. I’d always dismissed it as too expensive. Besides, I’m a published author, and real writers write. I shouldn’t need a writing coach. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.
But that’s a load of crap.
This is war, baby. And it’s time to call in reinforcements. What matters is results. I want a long career as a successful writer. So I need to do whatever it takes to keep moving toward that goal. As for the cost, I’m worth the investment. 😉
I have my first meeting with my writing coach this week, and I’m thrilled about it. I’ll let you know how it goes. Better yet, I hope to show you.
Do you ever find it difficult to stay focused? If so, how do you calm your monkey mind?
Bunny courtesy of Moyan Brenn. Some rights reserved.
Monkey Swinging courtesy of Jonathan Khoo. Some rights reserved.
Tried to Be Good shirt available on eBay here.