Monday, August 24, 2009

Jmo on Frustration

Last week I ranted on Distractions. So this week I decided to hit another ‘Tion’ that is the bane of authors. Yep, the dreaded Frustration. Some of you may confuse frustration with distraction but in my book they’re kissing cousins. One automatically leads to the other. Usually it’s the distraction that causes the frustration.

I’d like to say I’m not prone to it, but quite frankly I’m on the verge of coming off a long bout of it. For anyone who’s been a writer for long know that Frustration is just another word for writer’s block. The P.C. name for it I guess. There are a lot of other words that can be used to call it, but this is a family oriented forum. I won’t use them here, but if I can’t finish this thing, I might scare the dog with them out of your earshot of course.

What causes frustration?

Why do we suffer from it?

Where did all these questions come from?

You got it. A clear cut case of not knowing where to go with this blog. That’s the thing about stumbling over a word, a phrase, or what have you. It preys on your mind until you can’t see daylight anywhere. So let’s start here with the causes of Frustration.

When you’re writing, the mind can see exactly what’s happening. For me at least it’s like I have a movie playing in my head. All the little players are doing their thing and for all intents and purposes, everything is right in the world. Okay, so we got the fact the characters know what they’re doing, the plot is pretty much flying on autopilot and that’s where we hit the roadblock. Sometimes the mind can’t translate the film to words. I can’t tell you how many times, I re-watched a scene and all I could come up with was, see spot run when the last thing spot was doing was running if you know what I mean. Honestly, I’ve had books sit for weeks—heck months—before spot didn’t anything but go duh.

I wish I could say getting out of the literal quicksand was easy. The last thing it anyone would want to call it is easy. By the time, you finally get past duh, you’ve banged your head, followed every distraction in the world to take your mind off the scene, in some vain hope serendipity will kick in and the words will come. Truthfully, that is what it takes. You’ve got to go away. Books are like watched pots. They never come to a boil until you’re doing something else.

But sometimes it’s not the phrase that’s the thing holding you up. It’s the plot, or story idea itself. Just because you’ve got an idea doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good one. Sorry authors out there, but sometimes a Were-Pekinese isn’t a good idea—if ever. What I’m saying is, don’t get trapped in a bad idea. I’ve done it. I’m pretty sure a lot of writing have, too. My advice is step back or better yet, let someone you trust read it, before you start smashing laptops through TVs like some sad rock star. By trust, I don’t mean someone who loves everything you write, but someone who can be brutally honest. By the way, if you can’t take brutal honesty, you’re in the wrong business.
I’ve got to rambling so let me cut this short. There are many other causes of Frustration but they’re pretty much self explanatory. Bad day at work. Your head’s wrapped up in personal issues. They just canceled your favorite TV series. Basically life gets in the way.

Authors need to be centered, focused to write. To quote a great movie—Happy Gilmore in case you’re wondering—we need to be in our happy place, or sad place if that’s what drives you. Your family probably won’t help you get there. Your friends won’t understand. But, your fellow authors will and that’s what makes us family from another mother.

To all my Frustrated brothers and sisters out there, calm down, smell the roses and whatever you do, don’t let it get you down. If writing was easy, everyone would do it. That my friends, is why we’re unique, and the masters of all the worlds we create.


1 comment:

Morgan O'Reilly said...

What a great topic. Frustration hits us all from time to time and from different angles. Some days it is hard to keep writing, but I'm glad that you do!