The Need for Outside Impetus

I think we all know the feeling. We have something we need or want to do, but we just don’t have it in ourselves to do it on our own.

I say a lot that writing is my coping mechanism. It’s a lot of things for me. Relaxation, productivity, sanity. I write not just because I want to, but because I need to. It can be close to a compulsion.

There are times, however, when that need to write is not enough on its own.

There are times when as much as I try, I can’t get myself unstuck or focused enough to write something, even if that something is a short scene. I try, but it’s not in me. Sometimes the stress of everything is too much, sometimes I’m feeling guilty about all the stories I want to work on and can’t, and sometimes it’s complete lack of inspiration. It’s other things, too. I could list other reason, but it doesn’t change the main point, which is, of course, that sometimes it is almost impossible to get stuff done without help.

Sometimes all we need is a bit of encouragement.

Sadly, that is usually not enough for me, though I do appreciate the moral support.

I have been forced to admit that I don’t make much of any progress on my own. I tend to hate everything I write and think it’s nowhere near good enough. I need help to get past that and finish things, which is why I’m always looking for someone who will read the story as I go along and tell me it’s not as bad as I think.

I also am almost always looking for prompts. I love prompts. I can’t always use them, but I so often need something outside of me to get me writing, and prompts are wonderful for that. Sometimes they help me find the bit I’m stuck on. Sometimes they get a bit more backstory out of me. Or sometimes I just get to revisit characters whose story is already done.

(Or I get tempted into new stories, which is not as good, but writing is writing.)

Of late, I had been so stuck it was painful. I couldn’t write. I had been making some progress on one of my old starts that had stalled, but that died out between horrible work schedules and stress and the usual suspect: depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, a friend had mercy on me and arranged a promptathon, and while I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give any useful prompts, I found some lyrics to share and passed them on. And I’ve made an effort at filling a few prompts myself. I haven’t really felt like what I did was much good, but I tried.

I’m writing again, that’s the main thing. I needed help to do it, and I got it. For that, I am very grateful.

Even if I am currently afraid I won’t be able to do anything for the other prompts or keep going after I’ve run out of prompts.

When an Outlet Isn’t Enough

I write for a number of reasons. I write because I love it. I write because the ideas never stop coming. I write because the characters need their stories told. I also write to escape. I write to process my world. I write as an outlet.

Today, though, was almost a day off from writing all together.

Had a bit of a wake up call happen last night–nothing bad, but it could have been a lot worse, and it made me think and made me take a look at a few things. It also left me feeling rather guilty because while nothing bad did happen, it could have, and it would have been my fault.

When I got home, I was wound up and usually I unwind by writing before bed. I didn’t. Couldn’t.

The underlying issues I was avoiding couldn’t be ignored for fic. They spilled out onto the fic, giving it a bad light. I was convinced that I’d lost touch with all my current stories: The Monster in My Garden Shed, The Not-So-Super Superhero, The Memory Collector, and the sequel to Nickel and Dime. I didn’t know where to take the first two, I thought I’d screwed up the third, and the fourth was going over the same thing over and over again with Effie and Garan’s current problems.

I couldn’t even bring myself to type on my older projects¬† because all my writing seemed… bad. Not worth fixing or working on bad.

This is the state I get in where I know things are really bad. If I can’t write, then I’m in a place that worries me.

I told myself it was just the day. I’d take today off from writing and things would look better in the morning. Morning came, and I was not over it. I still thought they were all horribly flawed and not worth fixing, even if I knew where to go with them.

Distracting myself with the games on my phone wasn’t working, though they are very addicting little apps. Talking it out was somewhat helpful, though since it had to be done by chat, it caused some confusion and frustration, too.

It was getting later and later, and it looked like there would be no writing done today at all. I did some minor edits to the second Nickel and Dime–which, by the way, continues to vex me with its refusal to get named–and I had a strange idea for how to go on with it, so I opened up the file and started working on it.

Of course, that was about when it became time to get dinner and go out for the evening, so the scene wasn’t done when I left. Out and about, I used the phone to start today’s Not-So-Super post.

Writing today was more of a battle than an outlet, but I do think that I am better for it, not just in the sense of settling some of my issues in real life but also for taking that look at the stories and acknowledging what might need to change and figuring out where to take them and knowing that they are still worth it, even if they need a bit of work.