Getting the Words Out

Today’s blog is partial follow up to my “Good Day” post, and partial writing update. Because that’s what we do, right? Keep writing? I did start a month long project on July 1st.

Today-was-aToday marked the first morning that everyone got up and went back to work. By the time my wife left around 5:45 this morning, I was left in an empty condo. I showered, got dressed, packed up my writing gear and sat in the living room with my boots next to me. I just sat there for about thirty minutes or so. I just took in the feel of the room and said to myself, “Still here.”

Over the course of dealing with the inevitable end, I had held two snippets of line close. The one from Ice Cube was the title for the previous blog. And it was something I’d been asking when I’d get home. Today was a good day had a couple of meanings to it. The obvious was that he did well that day, was moving fairly easily, and other such literal things. It also meant something similar to the song. A bit more depressing, but I take it for what it is.

Which brings me to the second line, which comes from the movie short Danger Word, based off the Devil’s Wake book series by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. The line (and central part of the video) is, “Still here.” It’s the last thing I whispered to my dog on Thursday. I’ve whispered it to him a few times the last couple weeks. And I said it to myself this morning as I got up to leave and caught myself getting his pills ready for him.

"Still Here" a scene from Danger Word

“Still Here” a scene from Danger Word

I went to the Starbucks due to how late it was getting. Not to mention I had a free drink reward in my app. What I found was I had to sit through a couple songs in my playlist before I could start the next short story. The words didn’t want to flow this morning. Four days off (not counting the writing I did Friday for that Good Day blog post), and I was still gummed up in the creative works.

How do you get through writers block? It’s something I’ve seen covered on the NaNoWriMo site, as well as other author resources websites. But I don’t believe in writers block. I do believe my head wasn’t in the game because it was drawn out of my story too much. So I worked the story through a bit at a time. A dog made it’s way into the apartment in the story. And the words came to me. Which brings me to the third line I have been using a lot the last few weeks.

This one came from The Walking Dead – the show, not the comic. The last season, when everyone was getting sick, people on the show quoted Hershel several times. “We’ve all got a job to do.” That is what I told myself this morning after a couple songs to get my head straight. It’s part of what works for me as a writer. The music is kind of my Pavlovian creative response trigger.

When I first started taking writing seriously and jumped in to NaNoWriMo several years back, I hit a stumbling block. That month my uncle had passed away and I was driving the passenger van from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania with the folks from here. I couldn’t recover from it. I’d lost my voice for several weeks that time. So, I knew this was coming, which is part of what saved me. But honestly there were several things that will make my Camp NaNoWriMo challenge pull through this month.

1. The Format

I am doing an anthology of short stories. I don’t think I can catch up to hit 30 short stories for the month. I will hit 55-60k in short stories for the month though. It also allowed me the flexibility to write what was causing me to get gummed up. To write stories down about my dog, and why it was hitting me so hard. To allow dogs of various fashion to make it into my stories, sometimes popping up without me even realizing it.

2. Routine

I have a routine. I write nearly every day. If I sit down in a coffee shop with my iPod in, my mind slides into that mode without much effort. That makes the days when effort is involved that much easier. It’s like Harry Dresden being able to focus his shield spell better when he has that shield bracelet of his to use as a magical implement.

3. The Words

As an author, I feel words have power. That power can be used for ill or good. I take these quotes, lines and lyrics, and pull them out as the mantra to succeed. And in most cases to remind me what is important. A couple deep breaths with a “still here” at the end brings a center to me when everything else seems a mess.

Put it all together…

These three elements make up the material, somatic and verbal components of the spells that keep me going. The rituals invoking the creative state where my stories pop out of. They allow me to do the job. Because everybody’s got a job to do.

And had I access to these things previously, I’d have one less failed attempt at NaNoWriMo to my name. But then again, it was those failed attempts at the challenge that gave me the skills listed above to get past the obstacles to succeed.

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