Writer’s Block or Sheer Laziness – You Decide…

None of this is getting words written hmm?

None of this is getting words written hmm?

It appears, dear readers, that my declaration of triumph over the war on words (my battle to keep stacking those numbers up) was over confidence on my part. Misplaced optimism, I’m afraid.

Here I sit, in front of my laptop merrily emailing friends (in great detail; those poor souls surely thought there couldn’t possibly be 2,000 words to describe a lamb recipe I tried out recently), re-organising my folders and files – the joy of re-naming! – and reverting to previously noted tactic of finding long and complex recipes to try out.

In addition, the sun has shone its heart out in my part of the world this week. We have experienced temperatures in the mid-20s. The cat has collapsed in a soporific state in the coolest part of the house he can find and I count the hours, well minutes, until I can justifiably say to myself: “I’ve been on the flippin’ lap top for AGES. It’s time to remember all those important Primal Blueprint rules about getting out in the daylight and soaking up Vitamin D. My health demands it!”

Two hours of sunbathing per day. Sometimes I read, sometimes I daydream, sometimes I snooze.

In short, I have procrastinated, deliberated, added in countless other jobs and twiddled my thumbs rather than write a book. To be fair to myself, I have also applied for several freelancing jobs. Heck, I’ve even done a few of them and been PAID, which is always a bonus in the freelancing world.

I also – very important task – tutored Mama Highheelsandpinkglitter on the use of Windows 8. She now knows how to switch her laptop off.

But, but, but… There’s a book waiting to be finished. There’s a bottle of champagne chilling nicely. There’s even a, gulp, writing competition to enter (deadline 20 September). Time to kick procrastination back into touch.

Readers – Who Cares?

The cat mooching for food is Plan K.

The cat mooching for food is Plan K.

There’s a popular saying that I’m quite fond of – dance as if no-one’s watching…

I like to follow that advice myself, but as I tend to dance mostly in my own living room, no-one is watching anyway. Unless you count Google Maps’ sneaky satellite cameras beaming into our homes and my own peculiar moves might turn those cameras off right away anyway.

Let’s adapt that saying though – what about ‘write as if no-one is reading’? Or more importantly, as if you don’t particularly care if anyone does? I admit, defensiveness does motivate me here. “So, three trillion people aren’t reading my blogs – ah well, who cares anyway? I don’t need three trillion folks to read and comment on what I write.” That kind of thing y’know.

I love writing. It’s why I left my safe, well-paid office job and launched myself into the foolhardy venture of carving out a career as a full time writer. Plan A is that I complete the book I started last year (hey, two thirds of the way through), manage to get it published and it sells in sufficient quantities for me to make a living from it. The path to book selling, though, is littered with broken dreams and insane folks flogging books no-one knows about it, no-one reads and no-one buys.

So there’s Plan B too. Write a book, get it published and sell it in small quantities whilst also supplementing my income through freelance writing opportunities a la elance.com and people per hour.com.

Plans C and D also exist. Plan E is get a full-time job office job once more. Maybe I should make it Plan Z instead and figure out a few more creative options for how I can make money before that one has to be launched…

Create the world’s first paint-on non-orange fake tan? Make films of the cat mooching for food and turn him into a YouTube sensation, resulting in sponsorship from giant cat food manufacturer? Establish an online vintage shoe company? Write a diet book based purely on anecdotal evidence and with no scientific backing whatsoever?

But back to that writing for yourself malarkey. I’ll reference Joe Warnimont here, as that’s one of the messages he promotes. And if you aren’t actively trying to promote your blog (Facebook, Twitter, endlessly liking and commenting on other people’s stuff, finding guest bloggers, posting links to your blog on Q&A forums etc), then you can tackle any subject you want. I tried niche blogging – if you’ve ever Google-d anything relating to diet and fitness, you’ll realise why niche blogging is so incredibly popular – but my gnat-attention span wore out by post three and I soon resorted back to writing about anything which took my fancy that day.

My original understanding of a blog was that it was some kind of online diary. Blogging isn’t really about that any more – it’s about raising awareness, marketing your business, creating fresh content for your website, increasing traffic to websites and making money. Hey ho! For the moment, I’ll keep on writing as if no-one is reading. Creative fulfilment comes in many forms.

The Sun-kissed Freelancer

This sunbathing station was not set up until at least 1,000 words had been written, oh no it wasn't...

This sunbathing station was not set up until at least 1,000 words had been written, oh no it wasn’t…

Ah, the sunny day is the enemy of the writer hmm? We who are already experts in the art of procrastination gird our loins, set up our laptops in the far corner of the room, hidden away from any hint of sparkling and enticing sunshine outside and buckle down…

Still, beats working in an office though! So here I am trying to carve out my living as a freelance writer and keep myself in wine and cat food*. There are kind souls who have contacted me and offered me their advice a la blogging tips to make money, so thank you the two Joe’s (Warnimont and Seeber), Glenn and the Daily Phil; I do find your newsletters most useful.

Then there are the freelance sites, elance and People Per Hour where I can flog my services to the whole wide world. “Yes, yes, I promise I can write about almost anything, I’ll make it original, it will pass Copyscape no problemo and, thanks to my skills with key words and SEO techniques, three trillion people will find your business as a result of my words!”

(And of course buy whatever you are flogging…)

Blimey, selling yourself is hard work though and occasionally dispiriting especially when hirers post jobs where they will pay you $2 or less for 500-word articles… (Seriously).

Having written some 50,000 words of my own book – a fantasy adventure aimed at young adults – I dilly dally with tidying up those pages most days. I had got a bit stuck; two-thirds of the way through and I had bored myself, I hated my characters and I wished them out of my head for ever. “You lousy lot,” I muttered to myself, “stop bothering me with your foolish adventures and your lacklustre dialogue!”

Then I found myself a writing buddy – a gent with far more experience than I who has written books and screenplays before and we began exchanging emails about the writing process and even – gulp! – swapping chapters. I challenged him to write a synopsis for the remaining part of his book and then thought I had better take my own advice and write one myself.

Off I went and researched the narrative arc, investigated the seven plots and looked into characterisation. Et voila, a synopsis was born. I swapped it with my writing buddy. He made an extremely good suggestion and pointed out where the story didn’t exactly work. I gave it to my mum. She was kind and constructive, as the best mums should be.

So, I now have the complete story in my head and on paper. Better keep writing hmm?

And now for a little interaction… I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips on writing a book and what forces you to keep going when motivation is lacking?

 

*Reader, fear not. Life has not deteriorated to the level where Whiskas whets my appetite on a daily basis. It’s just that as well as myself and husband, we do have one greedy cat to feed.