Friday, December 2, 2016

5 Writer Freak Outs

Didja ever start a project - maybe you're painting a the house or knitting a baby blanket - and filled with glee, you break out the rollers and brushes and slap up some color, or start casting on stitches? You can straight up SEE how this thing is going to look. It'll be amazing! For a couple of hours, maybe, it IS amazing, because you're conquering your chosen corner of the world.
Then your fingers cramp mid-knit one, pearl two. Something in your back shoots daggers up your spin mid-roll of paint. Okay. Okay. Human limits, right? You've made good progress. No need to kill yourself over a project that can't be finished in a day. You pack up and put your toys away so you can go soak the muscle protests in a hot shower. Then toast your project well-begun with a glass of wine. Tomorrow is another day, right?
But tomorrow dawns with work. Family. Emergencies. Bills to be paid. And a project left hanging. But you'll get to it. You'll get to it.
You realize the baby you were knitting that blanket for was due to be born yesterday. You get a call that your parents/in-laws/people you want to impress with your adulting are coming to visit in a week. You freak out because you have to finish your half-done project NOW. Your freak may look a little like this photo wherein after nearly a decade of living aboard a sailboat, Hatshepsut FINALLY figures out the docks are surrounded by water.
Holy Crap! What's That Wet Stuff?
Writer freak outs look a lot like the weirded-out cat and, for me, they come in a few distinct flavors
1. The Deadline Freak
2. This Book Sucks and Cannot Be Redeemed Freak
3. The OMG, Who Am I and What Are Words Freak
4. The I Have No Clue What Happens Next Freak
5. The I Need My Ivory Tower Now Freak
Since I have an advanced degree in Drama Queen when it comes to writing, I have become close, personal friends with all of my freaks. We party. And by party I mean staring sightlessly, hopelessly into the distance while slamming dainty little cups of oolong.
Existential angst notwithstanding, I've done this enough times now that I can predict when and how I'm going to wig while attempting to draft. I'm good for 25-30k words into a novel. That's proof of concept. If a beginning goes that far without a hitch, it's good for at least 90k. But at that 35-30k point, I'm going to get stopped by the numbers 3 and 4 freaks. I know to expect them. Plotting gets around those. There may be another number 4 freak at the midpoint. A revisit of to plotting notes helps. The This Book Sucks Freak is usually reserved for near the end of the book and tempts me to just throw it all away. Nothing for that one but to laugh it off and muscle through. Muttering "POS draft" like a mantra helps, too. The number 5 freak is reserved for when the rest of life tries to crowd in all angst-ridden and demanding. I long for isolation and silence so I can write the damned words. As it turns out, though, I've discovered there are precious few ivory towers in my vicinity. So it's up to me to suck it up and write the words anyway.
Easier said than done, but done it must be. Sorta like those walls you were painting chartreuse and mauve. Or that baby blanket you were knitting. Make it a little bigger and you could call it a hand made quilt and give it to the kid as a high school graduation present - something to take to the college dorm room. Did you just drop a stitch?