Routine Recalibration

I think I’m in a rut. Not a I-can’t-write-a-thing rut. More like a nothing-is-inspiring-me rut.

I still tinker with some of my short stories, analyze and implement some of the changes my CPs have suggested for my historical romance novel, and deliberate on whether I should go back to my problem-riddled SF novel that is mostly complete, the problem-riddled SF novel that I need to start over from scratch, or the half-drafted contemporary YA project that’s been hanging out on my hard drive since Christmas.

I can rattle off a whole list of pros and cons to tackle one WIP over another. And as usual, there’s a whole bunch of other things in life that can keep me from writing at all — like sunny days, bathroom remodels, and dress shopping for the three weddings I’ll be attending this year.

To top it off, everything I’ve been writing lately makes me cringe. The folks at Writers Unboxed say You Hate Your Writing? That’s a Good Sign! (and be sure to watch the Ira Glass interview mentioned in the article!):

That struggle—that feeling that you’re wasting your time—is a sign that you’re probably on the right path. But most people quit, not realizing that nearly every writer who does excellent work went through a phase of years where they had really good taste, but they produced total crap.

When I don’t like what I’m writing, I tend to fall back on craft. I may not like something, but if I write it in a technically proficient way, that’s at least something. Author Jody Hedlund and Fiction Groupie Roni Loren both blogged about the importance of writing craft recently, and I realized it’s been some time since I cracked open the books I’ve gathered.

Even my horoscope last week said:

If I had to come up with a title for the next phase of your astrological cycle, it might be “Gathering Up.” The way I see it, you should focus on collecting any resources that are missing from your reserves. You should hone skills that are still too weak to get you where you want to go, and you should attract the committed support of allies who can help you carry out your dreams and schemes. Don’t be shy about assembling the necessities. Experiment with being slightly voracious.

In other words, it’s time to study up. So that’s where I’m at — incorporating deliberate study of craft into my writing routine. I’m currently plowing through Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style and will probably reread Character, Emotion, Viewpoint after that.

Anyone else feeling the need to hit the books?
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5 thoughts on “Routine Recalibration

  1. Jen McConnel says:

    Yes! Thank you for this well-timed post. I have been aware of my need for learning so much lately, and I just got rejected from an MFA program that I had hoped would fill that need.

    I think we as writers can only go so far on natural ability, and it's never far enough. And that's where classes, experts, and openness to not being perfect comes in.

    Good luck!

  2. Julie Dao says:

    Sorry you're in a writing rut 😦 I'm no stranger to it myself. It's no fun, but you've definitely got the right attitude – studying up will inspire you and refuel your zest for your work. It also helps to read for fun… maybe a book or two that you really admire. Works for me every time! Good luck!

  3. Lena S. says:

    I can totally identify how you feel. This was – still is – me for the past two months, right down to indecision between projects and hating my writing. I'm trying to go back to the craft by taking classes (graphic novel writing :)) and reading novels, but adding craft books would be a good idea too. I hope we both get through this soon!

  4. Angela Ackerman says:

    When I find myself unable to settle on a project or feeling dejected about my skills, I always turn to a non fiction read on craft. I love to learn, and it fires me up to apply what I've just absorbed. 🙂

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  5. K.M. Weiland says:

    I just started James Scott Bell's Revision and Self-Editing last night. In the introduction he makes the wonderfully encouraging and challenging point that *any* problem can be fixed. It's just a matter of putting in the time and effort of fixing it… which, of course, all comes back to an understanding of the craft. Happy studying!

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