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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Battling the Writing Blues



Sometimes writing gives me the blues. That's pretty bad, considering I write comedy.

At my "real" jobs, I've always been a subordinate--subordinate to the clients and subordinate to my boss. I love it. So what's so great about answering to people, jumping through hoops, and trying to satisfy other people?

Two words. Defined Goals.

Okay. Four words. Defined Goals and Defined Deadlines.

Even when your client isn't sure exactly what he wants, the right questions can get you a definite something that he needs. And he always needs it right away. This goes for female clients, too. And Bosses, although bosses usually know exactly what they want from the start and they want it yesterday.

I miss that. You know what you have to do, do it, and get feedback. You know when you're finished. You put the file away and forget about it until the next frantic call.

With fiction, you write for an invisible audience and yourself. You only have self-imposed deadlines. You never know when you're finished, and most times it takes eons to get feedback, whether it's from a writer's group, an agent, or readers.

It's a lonely, twisted road, and that's where the blues come in.

So how to pull yourself  back into the light? I don't always know how.

Right now, the thought of re-defining my goals into tiny, completable steps makes me nauseous. I've done it too many times before and then dumped the goals when the dog got sick or a copywriting job came up (Yipee! Goals and deadlines, and money too!) Or when there was something good on TV.

Setting another deadline and shaking my finger at the page while saying No excuses this time, girlie! doesn't help either.

Things I've Tried

An invisible boss that I answer to. This worked alright for a while, but then I forgot about her. She's invisible.

A separate calendar for writing goals. I have too many calendars already. I'm easily confused.

Threats. You'll never have a house with a big California backyard for the dog to play in (read: average Midwest backyard) and he'll develop arthritis because he never gets to run around.

Real threats. Those bills are only going to get paid if you get some writing out there or get a job greeting people at Wal-mart. But if I'm at Wal-mart, who will be around to let the dog outside? What if he desperately needs to tinkle while I'm collecting carts from the parking lot. No, no, no!

And, finally, guiltThe guy in the parable punished the servant who buried his talents. Is that what you want? Buried talents? What kind of ingrate are you? You have an obligation to make people giggle.

What do you do to get out of the writing blues? And does it work?