Accepting the Pants

In the planning phase, I can always see everything so clearly.  I get to know the characters I’m going to write about. I can just see my settings, feel the feelings and ambiences I want to evoke. I can see how my characters will change trough the story, and what major revelations they will have. But then… Then it’s time for the nitty gritty.

Figuring out exactly how all of this happens; the details; everything between the cool bits that will tie everything together. God how I hate it!

This is also the place where I often loose my magic. I can’t figure everything out, so I take a break. When I’m on my break I have fun. I think of other things. I read, listen to or watch other stories. And when I get back to my story… I’ve lost my connection to it and any desire to continue it. I’ll often have a new and shiny idea that I want to write about instead.

This is a pattern for me, more so really than I care to admit. I have a thousand discarded stories. When I find them again, I can’t understand why I didn’t continue writing them. Then I’ll usually try to pick them up again, change a few things around to make it work better. And then… I have to get those details down again, and the cycle continues.

So how do I break it? I could just sit myself down, dedicate a weekend and get those details down. But I think I stumbled upon a solution last summer when I panted my way trough a first draft of a story. Granted, the draft was horrible, almost unusable. But I stuck with it, and now I can’t get that story out of my head. I’ve been churning it around in my head for almost a year now. Not constantly, of course, but regularly. And I think I have found solutions to many of the problems with it.

So, am I a pantser? I have always thought of myself as a planner. I’ve even thought of pantsing as a lazy copout. And here I am. The most successful I’ve ever really been in writing has been by panting.

Perhaps its a matter of hours invested? Time spent in this imaginary world of mine? It has taken a lot of time for me to process this. I’ve reached this conclusion before, but I haven’t really accepted it. But now, almost a year later, perhaps I can get to terms with being a pantser?

Follow your Spite

Spite is seriously undervalued as a force for whatever is is you want to do.

Somebody said you can’t lift 200 pounds?

Someone thought you needed their help with finding a date?

Someone doubted you could write 10 000 words in a day?

Spite, the feeling of “you don’t know my life”

It’s when you know you can do so much more than people think you can, and when the feeling of “I’ can ” overpowers anything anyone ever told you.

If you’ve managed to go trough life without the need of spite, I congratulate you. That is a feat in and of itself. But most of us have been told we can’t, or have felt like somebody told us we can’t.

The thing is… thats a gift. you feel that anger?

I’ve made a post about the glow that you get when you’re working with something that’s perfectly within your sphere of art, something you can relate to.

You shouldn’t be afraid to let your anger take place here. Of course unlimited anger isn’t good, but spite; Determination to see something trough no matter what people see in you. That’s a powerful source.

Be careful who you let get close enough to inspire spite in you. It’s a powerful emotion, and it can lead you to places you never thought you’d be.

Just be mindful of who you give the power to inspire spite in your life. And when they do, don’t let them off easy. Follow your spite, it will usually lead you to what you actually seek, and not the steps in between.

Don’t be apologetic about your spite. I dare say you have your reasons to be spiteful.

Keeping Momentum

When I sit down to write for the first time in a while, everything is slow. I can’t quite figure out what to write, ideas won’t fit together, and I have a hard time expressing what I want to and finding the right words. Its like trying to get out of an armchair after sitting in an awkward position, and you discover (possibly a moment to late) that your legs have fallen asleep. Its uncomfortable at first, and you feel like you’re walking on pins for a moment, but as soon as the blood flow is normal again everything works perfectly.

And that’s the same way with writing, you have to let your creativity flow and keep your momentum. I don’t think you necessarily have to write a ton everyday to keep your momentum, a few words on a story or some plotting might be enough. But you can’t let the flow stop.

For me, these blogposts might be enough writing for one day. At least my fingers got to write on a keyboard, and my thoughts could flow out in the form of words. This is still utilizing the same muscles that I use when I am writing creatively. It’s about keeping momentum, not about blazing ahead at high speed.

Sharing is Caring

So I like writing, and I’m not that afraid of sharing the things that I write. Not anymore at least. I used to be petrified of showing people what I write, well… other than my mom. These days I’m not that scared of showing people what I write.

I think my experiences in music has helped me a lot there. When I sing, I get immediate feedback from a teacher or conductor. In these cases, the feedback I get (good or bad) is genuine and impersonal. It is all about what I’m doing and how I can get better. The criticism comes from a mindset of growth, after all: there would be no point in telling me what I do wrong if there is nothing to be done about it.

This sort of process means that you have to separate your ego and what you are putting out, wether it’s music or writing. That isn’t an easy task, but I think it is the only way if one is to improve. You can’t take all the criticism you get into your heart and mull it over like some profound flaw. You just have to take it in, use it in your work and send the product right back out into the world.

Yes, I’m far less scared about showing my writing these days. Of course I get nervous and wonder what people will think, but my very being doesn’t depend on the response I get. I also generally share my writing with people I believe will take it seriously and give genuine and constructive feedback. And giving this sort of feedback is honestly a very nice thing to do for somebody.

It’s Not Nothing

So what do you do when you’ve been running around for 16 hours straight? Sleep. I really want to sleep. But I also wanted to write something here today. I didn’t know if I would have the time, and I haven’t really. But now, just before I collapse for the evening: I’m writing this.

It isn’t much, but it’s something. Sometimes you don’t have the privilege of choosing not to do something. Obligations and duty calls, and you just have to roll with the punches. That means you actually won’t have time to do all the things you want to get done, and it’s tempting to just leave it at that. But I figured I’d write this post. And it isn’t a bad topic, really: I sat down at the computer and I’m writing something, and that means I’ve written more than I would have otherwise. So even though I couldn’t write what I wanted to write, at the very least: I’ve flexed my fingers.

Deep Water

Tourists shuffled after the guide and her yellow umbrella. The view of the bay was stunning from the lookout, and everybody took out their cameras ready to ruin perfectly good landscape photos by posing in them themselves with wide smiles, thumbs up and sweat-spots.

Larry traveled by himself, so he’d have to wait for some of the others to take their own pictures, and ask if they’d take one of him. He leaned on the railing and looked out at the town below and the bay. A lone rowboat floated on the calm water. He could se the silhouette of a man holding a fishing rod in the little boat. Larry envied the fisherman, he was tired of the cramped tourbus and the loud talk all the time. Perhaps he would take up fishing when he got home?

He wanted to take a picture of the fisherman, and began fumbling with his camera when a movement by the rowboat caught his eye. Larry had assumed that the dark spot in the surface was deeper water, but… it was moving. He saw the huge shadow move towards the little fisherman. He wanted to call out, but there was no way he would hear him so far away. He turned back to the others.

– Miss Smith! There is a big shadow in the water! he called to the tour guide.

She waved back to him.

– Be with you in a moment, Larry! she said.

Larry looked out at the bay again. The shadow was directly below the boat now.

– Miss Smith! he called again and moved towards her.

– What is it? she asked as she met him.

Larry grabbed her arm and walked quickly back to the railing.

– That big shadow it moving! The fisherman is in danger!

– What fisherman?

Miss Smith sounded confused and Larry turned back to the water with his heart in his throat. There was no little rowboat, no fisherman and no shadow. Only the waves that rippled in the water bore witness that something had happened.