Friday, April 11, 2008

I Need a Swift Kick

This says it all.

I've felt a lack of motivation for awhile now. Oh, I'm still writing, don't get me wrong, but I'm not as jazzed about it. I'm also not reading any fiction. I've dabbled with a few novels, but none have held my interest long enough. I started to read the nonfiction bestseller Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert last night (thanks to Maria for getting it for me!) and am enjoying that.

But I am not in the "magic" place. Here is what my magic place is like. I'm constantly thinking about my book. Plot points. Character situations. What happens next. If what happens next will work right.

And the details, the feeling of the time period, are all right there on the surface, and they spill onto the page when I write. I am in the story and the story is in me. And everything around me is crystal clear, almost painfully so. I see the world with a writer's eyes. And it is bliss.

This is my magic place. And right now, I'm not there.

I hate it.

The research books that contain all those wonderful facts are back at the library, having sat on my shelf for more than a week without me so much as cracking a spine. My carefully constructed fictional world feels empty and vacant, like an abandoned motel with broken windows and doors off their hinges.

How to get back to that magic place?

I know it's just a phase. I go through them all the time. But here's a question. Is it logical to think that you can be in that "magic" place all the time (or at least when you're writing the novel)?


  1. I don't think anyone who has a day job and kids can be there all the time. I'm hoping to return to my "magic place" this weekend when I get a few uninterrupted hours with my WIP. Lately though, business travel, work and a contractor who is installing hardwood right outside my office door have kept me far from that place. We'll get back there...

    I wonder what it's like for full time novelists?

  2. Good question, Lisa. But I imagine that they can't be "in the zone" all the time, either, because of other commitments like publicity and marketing, etc.

  3. I don't think you're unusual at all and certainly it's unrealistic to expect we're always in our magic place when it comes to writing. I know I'm not! We just have to find ways to work through the periods between them.

  4. No, you can't be in the magic place all the time. But what separates the professionals from the wanna-bes is that the pros sit down and write something almost every day on their piece (especially if it's on deadline) whether they feel like it or not.

    When the magic fails, you rely on your craft.

    That's why craft is such an important foundation.

    That doesn't mean you can't take days off, or that you don't need to take days off to replenish your creative well. We all need that.

    But it needs to be a choice, not a default.

    And you need to learn to sit down and write your daily quota whether you feel like it or not.

    Hey, you said you needed a kick in the pants -- here I am, happy to oblige! ;)

    Seriously, if the creative well needs replenishment, forbid yourself to write for X days and only do other creative things (which includes things like going for a walk, visiting a museum, making a collage, baking, whatever feels creative).

    Let the writing build up again.

    I've said it a million times: not having a contract is the only time you have the luxury of only writing when you feel like it.

  5. I'm so not in my magic place either right now. Hate that. But the good thing is, that I've been writing long enough that I know I'll get back there. Sometimes by taking a week or so off. Sometimes by pushing through.

  6. Melissa, I'm in your exact shoes right now, too. No magic. Not even a shimmer of fairy dust. Nada.

    Take a little time if you need it to replenish. Then keep hammering away. For me, finding the zone is like panning for gold...if I keep at it, it'll happen, sooner or later. It's a leap of faith, far, it's always worked.


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