Overdrawn at the Writing Well

Well

Of all the writing advice out there, top three are probably writers write, writers read, and show, don’t tell.

Well, I do write. Normally, I say this with my fingers crossed while thinking: Hey, academic writing counts. I’m just coming off my BA Sociology honours year and the first six months of my PhD candidature, both of which involve reading and writing a lot.

But, let’s face it, writers write and writers read are talking about the fiction or non-fiction that you love to write or read, in my case the speculative genres—fantasy, science fiction, horror. Those I’ve not been doing so well with, and haven’t been for some time.

I try to write, constantly, but it’s been increasingly a slog. I read so sporadically that rounding the amount down to zero doesn’t do much injustice to the actual number.

What do I read when I’m not reading academic material? Books and blogs on writing. What do I watch in spare moments? YouTube videos on writing.

Last week, I sat down with a problematic story I’m halfway through writing, determined to fix its plot before continuing. This was the third time I’d done that with this story. I’d broken it down into scenes, rearranged them, brainstormed alternatives, created and recreated the characters. I suddenly realized I had more than 6000 words of notes on what I’d estimated would be a 6000-word story… and, well, it struck me.

My creative well is probably a bit of a wreck. No fiction to replenish it and way overstuffed with all that writing advice that judges, rejudges, and damns every word, sentence, and paragraph as it emerges. Stories begin to drag themselves out of me only to be clubbed to death by my inner how-to-write monster. I’m all knowledge and no art.

So, I’m going to try to readjust my balance. No fiction writing for a month. No drawing from the dry well. No reading how-to-write books or blogs and no how-to-write videos until further notice. I’m keeping my scheduled writing time, but I’m using it for recreational reading.

Hopefully, in a month (or two if I deem it advisable to go again), I’ll see a little glitter of water down in the creative well and feel happy to send down a bucket.

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