How to get back to writing when you lack the necessary motivation

As time passes I realize it is not about acing it but rather, it is about keeping yourself in the game no matter what. As long as you’re still in the game, you’re bound to win or at the very least learn why you didn’t. So below are a couple of rules that never fail to help me find the necessary motivation to keep writing. 

Face yourself

I used to feed myself a lot of bullshit about myself. I don’t anymore. Not because I don’t want to but because I don’t believe myself anymore. I have wised up in spite of myself. Plus my husband never fail to provide me with the necessary but much dreaded reality check. I had to face myself. I had to accept that I was this lazy person who could not commit to writing and kept lying to herself about not being able to commit. You know, just like an alcoholic claiming he/she can get by without attending AA meetings . Or better yet just like my husband claiming he’s only getting back on eBay to buy that one star wars action figure. He bought it and is still on eBay maybe now buying his 4th or 5th action figure….go figure. The minute I stopped believing my lies about myself,  things got better. Or course they got worse at the beginning. My pink and lilac dreams were shattered 🙂 But things got better in the end. I started seeing myself objectively. When you face yourself you can deal with yourself efficiently and prescribe a proper course of treatment. I sincerely wish there was a “delusional want-to-be writers anonymous”. I swear I’ d go to meetings.

Consider yourself a scientist

Except that you’re also the sole lab rat. You see whenever I used to promise myself to do something and fail to do so I would get discouraged, think I am doomed and give up. But now since I am a scientist on my own case, I press on. I conduct little experiments and I tell myself “Fabienne, you’ll keep trying until you succeed”. As an example, before my surgery I had my writing schedule all figured out (before February 2017). I wake up at 4:45, make coffee and starts writing at 5:00. And then I exercise at 6:00 o’clock sharp. Took three months off due to surgery and I found myself back to square one.

It was actually quite frustrating trying to get back to my old schedule and realizing it wasn’t working anymore. What happened I asked myself? Did I leave my ambition in the surgery room or what? I tried writing at night after work. Still to no avail. The minute I get home all I want to do is relax with dear husband. Still I carry on. Then it hit me that instead of coming home to write after work I could go somewhere nearby my workplace, grab a coffee and write. It worked for a little while until I started spending my time being distracted by people watching. Still I didn’t get discourage. I press on determined to succeed. I researched shared workplace and found the Gab cafe (There are plenty other options here in Montreal).

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Tried it, loved it. The staff is amazing. The coffee is great. It is 3 dollars an hour. I am currently on the monthly membership but I think I’ll get back to the per/hour basis as I find that working with a limited amount of time (due to the 3$/hr rate) can be very motivating as opposed to the monthly membership where the amount of time is unlimited. Which brings me to rule number 3.

Tie it to a treat

About the GAB cafe, if I am to be honest, I don’t go for the writing. Yes, you heard right! I go for the coffee.

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The delicious GAB coffee and sandwich combo

I go for the staff. They are super sweet. So I get there. A fresh water bottle is waiting for me. My coffee is brought to me prettily served (Their latte is to die for). As for motivation there are other people working and appropriate silence. Once I am done with my writing I can pay a quick visit to my favorite stores because they are all at walking distance. I am not sure how good that arrangement will prove to be for my bank account but I can assure you it is money well spent 🙂 For some reason there always seem to be a new item waiting for me. Although I don’t always buy, it never fails to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. So whenever I don’t feel like going to write, all I have to do is think about the good coffee and the possibly new item waiting for me at one my favorite stores and my motivation goes up to 100 %.

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And the lighting is good 🙂

Give it time

Everything takes time. A lot of time. Life gets in the way sometimes. We get in our own way as well. Give it time all the time it needs. Take breaks when you’re tired. Then get back up again. Keep at it until you figure it out. Stay flexible. There isn’t just one way to do something. Different things work at different times and different stages of our lives. And last but not least:

Anything count as writing: Not writing is the building block of writing

You are a writer even if you’re not writing at the present time (emphasis on present time, provided you have written at some point). To me writing is a way of recycling our experiences into something better, something useful and healing. This way of thinking helps me not to get discouraged. Lately, I’ve realized that the more mature I get, the better my writing becomes. I am able to tackle certain subject with much more assurance and depth. I now have a much more nuanced understanding of human nature. I have always had a highly attuned sense of  psychology but the older I get the more I am able to grasp how simultaneously fickle and wonderful human nature can be. The downside is I can now smell my own crap. I can no longer lie to myself and pretend I’ve moved on. All of this knowledge will hopefully help me create  multidimensional characters that adequately reflect the human experience.  After all, what is writing if not an attempt at translating our human emotions into something everlasting?

I hope you enjoyed this piece and will be back soon with a review of “interview with a vampire” by Anne Rice. Stay tuned and don’t forget to comment, like or share this article!

The F Files is one year old! / Déjà un an!

Version Française…

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Imaginez! le 22 mai les F-Files a eu 1 an! 1 an de dur labeur, de procrastination, d’auto-flagellation, de tergiversations inutiles mais oh combien nécessaires dans le parcours d’artiste torturé que j’ai choisi!

Je m’en rappelle comme si c’était hier quand mon cher mari a cliqué sur ce fameux bouton publier… J’ai sincèrement cru que j’allais avaler mon coeur ce jour-là.

Pour commencer par le début de toute l’affaire, cela faisait déjà un bon petit bout de temps que je répétais constamment à qui voulait bien l’entendre que j’allais  créer un blog. Pour tout vous dire j’avais déjà tenté l’aventure dans un blog d’une seule publication, dans laquelle j’ai dit “Hello Gang!” avant de disparaître à tout jamais. Je ne vous dis pas la honte qui me couvrait les rares fois ou j’y pensais (note du mari: moi je vous dit ça ne l’empechait pas de dormir :).

Après cet épisode malheureux, je préfèrais diriger toute mon énergie sur “parler” de créer un blog. Vous admettrez que c’est quand même plus glamour que de se retrousser les manches et le faire pour vrai. Mais contre toute attente, un beau jour, je me réveille tout d’un coup avec l’urgence de finalement créer ce maudit blog. Mon âme d’artiste, ayant pour une raison ou pour une autre grand peine à décoller, pourra enfin s’envoler et me laisser être paresseuse et tranquille.

Je contacte donc une connaissance de mon mari, qui elle-même par faute de temps me fit perdre beaucoup de temps. Mon mari comme témoin resta attentif et inactif. Bien entendu ce qui devait arriver arriva! Un soir je profite de ce que le mari était en train de se détendre en jouant à un de ses jeux vidéo favoris pour lui tomber dessus, façon boeing en perte d’altitude.  S’ensuit une diarrhée verbale sans queue ni tête entrecoupée de “tu ne me soutiens pas dans ma créativité”…blah blah blah…”mon talent d’artiste se perds”…blah blah blah…”s’aimer c’est deux personnes regardant dans la même direction”…blah blah blah.

Durant cette quasi diarrhée verbale, mari ne pipa mot, alors là pas un mot, je vous dis. J’en suis même venu à me demander s’il n’était pas soudainement devenu sourd. Bon, quand même satisfaite de lui avoir fait la leçon alors que la vraie coupable c’était bien sûr moi, je retourne vaquer à mes occupations (note du mari: de lui avoir pourri sa soirée :P). Dans ma tête c’était clair… j’ai essayé et personne n’a voulu m’aider incluant mon autre moitié. L’histoire est close. Je suis en paix. Mais contrairement à ce que je pensais l’histoire commençait à peine.

Ce soir-la, je me mets au lit convaincue que j’ai trouvé l’âme soeur. Qui d’autre aurait pu supporter une telle diarrhée verbale sans commettre un meurtre rapidement suivie de suicide? Très peu de gens, je vous dis pour avoir moi-même fait le tour de la question.

Alors, le lendemain je suis en face de l’ordi comme d’habitude et je reçois un appel venant de mon cher mari. Eh oui, il veut m’inscrire sur blogger ou wordpress je sais plus quoi. Je reçois aussi un courriel contenant proposition de logos ainsi que de noms pour le dit blog. Mon cher mari me demande de me mettre la-dessus pour que tout puisse se faire aujourdhui. Alors là, moi je panique. Tout va trop vite. Je ne fais rien durant la prochaine heure. Je retourne consulter mes blogs de mode. Alors mari m’appelle. J’ai pensé à ne pas répondre durant un bref instant.

Mari: “Coucou, Je suis en train de te créer un blog”

Contrairement à ce qu’il s’attendait je ne sautais pas de joie.

Moi: “Oh oui, merci mon chéri!”

Mari: “As-tu décidé pour le logo et le nom?”

Moi: “Euh, non pas encore”

Mari: “pas encore!!???”

Alors harcelée par le cher mari de bon matin, je fus forcée de choisir dans l’espace de quelques heures un logo et un nom pour le dit blog. Ayant fait tout cela, je pensais que naturellement il allait me laisser tranquille mais non…il avait d’autres plans.

Encore harcelée par le cher mari, je me décide à écrire mon premier billet que vous trouverez ici. Je n’avais aucune intention de le partager ce premier post! En fait pour tout vous dire, mon intention était d’écrire des brouillons non publiés jusqu’à ce que je me sente “prête”. Mais c’était sans compter sur la ténacité de bouledogue de mon cher mari…

Moi: “Ça y est, j’ai écrit mon premier billet”

Mari: ”chouette, laisse moi voir”

Alors moi toute fière je lui cédai mon siège d’écrivain pour la relecture.

Mari: “Ok, maintenant publions-le, ce petit billet…”

Moi: “Quoi!? Non, non, je veux juste pratiquer ma plume en écrivant des brouillons… jusqu’à ce que je sois prête à les publier….”

Ce qui dans mon jargon veut dire bonjour, bonsoir, bonne année et ne m’emmerde plus avec ça.

Mari: “!!!??? Non on va le publier. C’est ce que tu voulais non?”

Moi: “Oui mais après, tu sais…”

Mari refuse de m’écouter et appuie sur “publier”.

Mari: “Maintenant il ne reste qu’à le partager sur facebook…”

Moi: “Je veux bien mais pas tout de suite….de toute façon c’est sur internet, les gens finiront bien par trouver eux-mêmes…”

Mari:”Je suis désolé de péter ta bulle ma chérie mais les gens ont d’autre chose a faire qu’a essayer de deviner si tu as un blog ou non. De toute façon si tu ne partages pas tu finiras par ne rien écrire sur ce cher blog pour lequel tu m’a rendu la vie impossible….”

Moi: “Mais non, tu sais très bien qu’une fois que je m’engage, je m’engage…voyons regarde…j’ai plein d’engagements dans ma vie.. Toi… Ma nièce. Je suis clairement quelqu’un d’engagée…”

Mari: “Comme tu t’es engagée sur ton dernier blog?”

Et voyant que je n’arriverai pas à lui faire changer d’avis…je lui lançai une petite pique.

Moi: “Au fait c’est comme ta musique sur laquelle tu ne travailles plus depuis je ne sais combien de temps… Pourquoi dois-tu toujours ruminer le passé? Tu es juste fâché parce que je t’ai forcé à m’ouvrir le blog…”

Fouetté par l’adversité, il partage le petit billet sur son facebook à lui.

Seigneur, j’ai cru que j’allais m’évanouir. Je suis maintenant un livre ouvert. Je n’ai plus de secrets pour personne. J’écris à temps perdu et tout le monde le sait. Ingrate je crus bon de lui rappeler qu’il était en train de commettre un véritable suicide social et qu’il ne fallait pas s’étonner s’il ne recevait plus d’invitations pour les barbecues d’été arrivant à grand pas. Il fit la sourde oreille et décréta qu’il survivrai.

Avec le recul, je remercie mon cher mari d’avoir insister. Sinon je ne suis pas sûre que le F-Files fêterait maintenant son premier anniversaire.

J’aimerais beaucoup entendre vos propres histoires sur le sujet, donc n’hésitez pas à commenter, partager ou aimer cet article.

Gros bisous et à la prochaine!

DÉJÀ UN AN!

english version…

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I can’t believe that May 22nd marked the one year anniversary of my blog! I remember it as if it was yesterday… The first time my husband pressed that publish button for my very first post. I would love to say that I was jumping with joy but it wasn’t the case, at least at the beginning…

Me: “Well, okay now I have a blog (doing a little happy dance). I have written my first post so I am on my way. Thank you honey, I love you (big kiss etc.) …”

Hubby: “Okay now let’s publish it”

Me (experiencing sudden numbness of limbs and severe heart pounding): “No! I mean I think I should wait, you know…write a couple of drafts…see how I fare…build myself up and stuff…”

Hubby: “If you never publish, you won’t commit…”

Me: “What do you mean I won’t commit? I am committed to you, to my niece and… blah blah blah…why are you doing this?…(and finally finishing with) you’re doing this as a revenge because I forced you to put up the site”.

I know, these are all lame excuses but it is rare to find good excuses when you’re wrong in the first place.

Hubby: “??!!! Okkkkay….”

Big silence.

Hubby: “Anyways…..sharing it with people will force you to keep writing…..”

And the man was right because even after sharing it with people and getting positive feedback I stopped writing altogether for a couple of months, so you can easily imagine what would have happened had he not hit that publish button.

In fact, a long time ago, I started a blog on blogger, published one outfit post, said “Hello Gang!” and goodbye in the same post never to be seen on that space ever again.

Hubby: “Okay…here we go..ready or not…”

And then he proceeded to do the irreparable and pressed PUBLISH.

After hyperventilating for a brief period of time, I gathered my strength only to hear the heartless man announce that this time, he was going to share the post on Facebook. Not just any Facebook… HIS Facebook! Where all of his friends were now going to know my dreadful little secret. I WRITE IN MY SPARE TIME. I was devastated. I felt the need to warn him that he was committing social suicide and that I would not be blamed if he received no invitations for summer barbecues coming up. He didn’t listen.

And the rest is history….

But to be frank, I brought this upon myself. The day before the whole thing, the poor man was sitting at home enjoying one of his many video games (he works in the gaming industry) after a long and heavy day at work and me, “the creative half of the duo” as I like to call myself; arrived without warning, tornado style, and started accusing him of all sorts of things among which; not supporting my creative side, not being involved where it matters, not helping me be the next Garance Dore (insert big hat and pink champagne here). All the while I was going on and on and I mean ON, he sat silent not saying a single word until I was able to calm down, satisfied that we were able to ‘’discuss’’ it. (Hubby note: She basically ruined my evening)

That night I became convince he was in fact my soulmate. I mean a man who can handle such blatant word vomit without committing murder closely followed by suicide. Sign me up for life.

Looking back, I choose to believe I had gone temporarily insane. So, thank you dear husband. I am starting to sound like I am receiving an Oscar, so it may be time to end this post.

Would love to hear your stories about the first time you tried your hand at a creative outlet. If you have a blog and you’d like to share that experience, I would love to hear about it!

Thank you for passing by and once again do not forget to like, comment or share this post! 

Talk next week!

 

PLOTTING VS PANTSING

Currently reading the book “OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOU WAY TO SUCCESS “ by K. M. Weiland.

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credits Warner Bros

According to Larry Brooks whom the author interviewed about the greatest benefits of outlining:

“Creatively, it is the opportunity to explore all possible and reasonable beats or moments in a story without having to actually write it. When that happens the writing simply becomes embellishment and life-giving, rather than exploration. If you know what happens – the mission of a scene – then writing it is one of two things: execution or seeking a better idea. With outlining you do that seeking pre-draft and thus you avoid the temptation to “settle” simply because “hey it works, I need to move on”. With outlining, what simply “works” (in a drafting process) is trumped by what works best.”

I found his perspective reasonably balanced although I do disagree with the”writing becomes embellishment and life-giving instead of exploration”.  Personally, the reason I tend to experience blockage when it comes to extensive plotting is because I feel like once I explore every possible nook and cranny the initial excitement may wear off.  Which I am sure may prove to be completely untrue. I don’t mind the exploration at all because I find this is the most fun part since I get to discover the story alongside the characters. Crafting new characters is just like having new babies, you get excited just by looking at them; you start by stalking every possible little resemblance to you!  I know a character is ready and well fleshed out when they start developing a mind of their own and refuse to go along with the initial plan. When that first happens I am usually pissed like “I created you so get with the program”, but then I remind myself that just like children they need to find their own way in life and the fact that they’ve taken a  life of their own  simply means that they are well articulated individuals if not completely sane. Frankly, I don’t like the word “pantser”, it implies sloppiness and absolute lack of planning in my mind, and I much prefer “character-driven” VS plot-driven.

I think that some genres are less amenable to “pantsing“than others. As an example maybe Fantasy or thrillers would probably require some form of extensive planning and it would be practically impossible to wing it. I am sure we could find many other types of examples.

In my case, what might be considered “pantsing” is actually spending quality time with the characters to discover who they are, what makes them tick, what is wrong with them, what they are avoiding in their lives, with absolutely no pressure for them to performg any particular act in any particular order. I just want to get to know them, no pressure. I do think that, just like people, “characters” when they know nothing is expected of them, they tend to show up as their real selves.

I have come to realize in my writing life that the method that will probably work best for me is to first focus on developing the characters with a light outline that is not restrictive and then once I feel I have a good grip of the characters, to go for an extensive plotting session in order to explore “all possible and reasonable beats and moments of the story” just like Mr Brooks suggested.

Once the characters are well formed I find that they basically hand me the plot.

I am not even half way through the book yet but I  am convinced that overall, this specific bit has tremendously helped me in incorporating more solid outlines in my writing process.

And last, but not least: “have fun! You’re playing God!” Which is probably why I am a writer in the first place. If only getting pregnant could be that easy…..more on that next week…