Saturday, September 25, 2021

Processes and a Podcast

Scott D. Parker

There must be something in the air this week, because a good number of the writers I follow on Twitter had writing challenges. I did, too, but there is a solution.

On Thursday, Texan Jeff Abbott tweeted this:

“writing early this morning, i had been pondering since last night how to fix a chapter opening, had no good idea, sat down to the chapter, in desperation typed three sentences, character-driven solution presented itself to my weary brain, onward”

Later the same day, Bryon Quertermous had a short thread, the last of which contained this little nugget:

 “Writing can cause so many problems, but almost every time, the solution to a writing problem is to write through it. 5/5”

As for me, I’d been suffering a lazy streak. Part of it certainly had to do with how to craft the beginning of my next chapter. I had struggled to end the previous chapter in a satisfactory way, so I just ended it. The subconscious must’ve festered on my dissatisfaction with that ending because it kept hindering my forward progress.

Until this week. As a writer with a day job, I’m time locked with my writing time. I also hadn’t been doing my exercises as often as I needed to and it’s lack was catching up to me. So I did the most basic thing in the world: Gave myself no excuses. I compelled myself to wake at 5am, get on the rowing machine within five minutes of waking, and after a brisk ten-minute session, sat at my computer and wrote.

Guess what? The words came, fast and furious, until I had to stop and get ready for work. I didn’t mind, really. I had accomplished something. Two things, in fact. I had cleared my mind of the block that hampered my writing as well as the exercise. That was a great day.

No matter the writer, no matter how many stories the writer has completed, there will always be days in which the stuff just doesn’t happen. The brain might be wonky or filled up with life’s clutter. It’s going to happen, so it’s best not to get upset about it.

But there is a way to mitigate the hangups: Rely on the process. Don’t wait for inspiration. For nearly all of us, that means getting in front of our screens and doing the work. When we’re there, inspiration will come. It always does.

My First Podcast Interview

This process of always being available is part of my writing life on which I constantly rely. It’s one of the things Paul Bishop and I discuss in my first-ever podcast interview. It dropped this week and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Have a listen.

Or use this link to get the episode in your preferred podcast-listening app.


Dana King said...

Our processes differ, but I agree with your sentiment: the process is everything. I'm constantly tweaking mine, but the core has remained similar for years, and there is always method to my madness. (method = process) I think this is why the Western failed: it was written in such fits and starts around other projects that I never brought the process to bear.

Scott D. Parker said...

The process is also the only thing we can control. We can't control if readers like or hate our stories, or if they even discover our stories. It's part of my mantra: Control the Controllables. And, as a the de facto first reader of whatever story I'm writing, if I'm having a blast, then all's well.

Charley Crockett, a new-to-me traditional country musician I discovered last year who has just released his second album of the year--won an award this week. In a Facebook post commemorating the win, he said this: "Though I don’t measure it by awards, success is what happens when you refuse to lay down and give up."

Should have included that in my original post, too.

Dana King said...

Gppd point about what we, and can't, control. That's always been a key element that kept me sane. Well, relatively.