Scott D. Parker
For those of us in Houston, we are still in baseball season. Our Houston Astros are in the American League Championship Series with the New York Yankees. A trip to the World Series is on the line. Being a Houston sports fan, I am conditioned to expect the worst and be happily surprised when we win. Even two years ago, when the Astros won our first World Series title, it went seven games. Ditto for the Houston Rockets in 1994 because nothing is easy for Houston sports teams.
Now, our Astros got into a bit of a hitting slump during games 3 and 4 of the divisional series against the Tampa Bay Rays. But what does any hitter know in his head and try to do when he's in a slump? Just make contact. Good contact, and put the ball in play. Hopefully he'll get a single, maybe a double, but just make contact. Get on base, and then see what happens next.
[Here comes the transition from baseball to writing that you knew was coming.]
I've been in a writing slump for a few weeks. Tried a bit, didn't like what the fingers spit out, and grew frustrated. How the heck am I supposed to write the next novel when everything I write reads like crap?
One simple answer is: Write the next sentence. It is literally that simple. Just write the next sentence of a paragraph. Then the next one and the next one. Just keep going.
Easy to say. Really hard to follow. I know. You know. We all know because we've all been there.
But if "write the next sentence" is the writer equivalent of "make contact with the ball," then what's the equivalent of a single in baseball?
A short story.
In an effort to get outta the slump, on Monday, I started a short story. I gave myself few guidelines other than...have fun with it. Just write a story and finish a story by this coming Sunday. That's a week. Even with a day job, I often carve out an hour before I get ready for the day and another at lunch. With two hours per day plus some on the weekends, surely I can finish a short story in a week's time.
Well, as of today, I'm about 95% done. Had a little issue mid week that knifed into the writing time (both mental and physical) but I got back on track.
With no care as to the idea of selling it in the future (but I will), I just wrote with a funny grin on my face most times. It was a blast and it reminded me of two things. One, I'm pretty good at this. Two, I love telling stories.
Guess what happens this coming Monday? I start the next one. I plan on writing a few short stories in a row--one per week--to get my mojo back. Once I've hit a few singles, I'll be aiming for a double, a triple, and a home run in the form of my next novel.
Batter up! Er, actually...