Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kaye George a.k.a. Janet Cantrell Talks about Writing for Writers

I'm excited to have Kaye George who also writes as Janet Cantrell take my scheduled spot this month. Her post hits home for me since my day job demands continue to drain away my writing time. I think I need to take heed to what she says.  Linda Thorne    
by Kaye George/Janet Cantrell

If you’re a writer, that’s probably one of the most enjoyable things you do—write. Right? It keeps you sane, out of trouble, and gives you enormous satisfaction. I believe all creative endeavors serve this purpose, or can. I think composers, painters, choreographers, and maybe even rap musicians feel this deep sense of satisfaction when they’ve created something, something new that can stand on its own two feet, so to speak, and communicate with others.
But what happens when you can’t write? When you can’t create?
First of all, what can cause this?
--Stress, for sure. Anxiety. Stress and anxiety can be due to lots of external factors, family situations, health, financial crises, fear for yourself or your future.
--The day job can overflow and take up the corners you use for writing, the corners of your house, your desk, and your brain.
--Fear of failure. Maybe you’re trucking along on a series and get to book 4 or book 8 and find you’ve hit a wall. These characters have said everything, done everything, gone everywhere. How can your next book be as good as the last ones? Will the readers like it like they did the others?
--Obligations to family or friends. If you’ve promised to help someone move, to take care of a child or spouse for an extended length of time, or take in a pet, you may find you have no time left in the short 24-hour days we’re restricted to.
So, here you are. A writer who isn’t writing. That’s not good. What’s the cure?
I hate to say it, but only know of one. Writing.
You just have to find the time to do it. You just have to make yourself do it. You just have to edit out all those instances of the word “just.”
Go over the last thing you wrote. You’ll find something you want to change. If you get into the last scene you created, maybe you’ll fall into the next scene. And the next, and the next.
Set a timer and write until you hear the ding. You don’t have to write sterling prose. You don’t even

have to write real words. (But you’ll get tired of writing “jabber wocky” and “yada yada yada” pretty soon and, out of desperation, find some real words.)
A writer writes.
Have you had any of these experiences? Do you have any other solutions?

Kaye George, national-bestselling and multiple-award-winning author, writes four series: Imogene Duckworthy; Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries; People of the Wind (Neanderthal), and as JanetCantrell, the Fat Cat series. You can find her short stories in anthologies and magazines and her collection, A Patchwork of Stories. The anthology of eclipse stories she put together, DAY OF THE DARK, will be out July 21st. She reviews for Suspense Magazine and lives in Knoxville, TN.



Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Sometimes I just get far too many obligations which take away my writing time. However, if I can squeeze in just a few paragraphs I don't feel all is lost. Belonging to a critique group gives me the incentive to be sure to have a chapter ready to read. Great post, Kaye!

Marilyn Levinson said...

With all that's going on in your life, it's a wonder you can write at all. Now that I have a deadline before me, I mentally plot out the scene I'm about to write before I sit down at my computer. That way I know the direction I'm taking. And before I write, I go over the previous day's work to get me into the writing mode. So far this has been working for me.

Kaye George said...

Thanks for dropping by, Marilyn and Marilyn (Marilyn x 2?)! It's good to know that others struggle sometimes, too.

authorlindathorne said...

Her post gave me a bit of a jump start. I did go to my Sisters in Crime meeting this month when, since September, I've cancelled at the last minute and I plan to shut the door to my office at home this weekend and come up with a work-life plan that puts some of the things she suggested and both of you (both Marilyns)suggested back into my life. Like Kaye says the only cure for a writer who isn't writing is to write.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Good morning! 2016 rolling into 2017 has been hard for Handsome and me. I'm grateful I have some stories written and banked for future use, but am finding it hard to get back to my third mystery. When things calm down, I'll put my emphasis on it. It's just easier with the story. Hugs!

E. B. Davis said...

Kris Kristofferson once said to the effect--you have to be selfish to be creative. Not only do I like quoting Kris whenever I can, but I also think he's right. Most people are not chastised for working, but when we work--it doesn't look like we are. You don't know how many times I've taken a book, as a prop, to make it appear as though I'm reading, when the reality is I'm thinking about my plot. Without the book, I appear to be in a trance or spacing out. At least with the book, I appear to be reading.

I also try to make the most of my alone times. When the "working" population has time alone--they usually watch TV or a movie--something that doesn't require a lot of effort. When we are alone--that's our prime time.

You can't change the way things are--you have to take advantage against the odds.

I know you're going through a lot right now--best to be kind to yourself. It's frustrating, but go with the flow. There's no alternative.

Unknown said...

The resident playwright at the Hartford Stage once told me that she goes where the energy is--it might just be an opening shot or somewhere in the middle. Tennessee Williams used to get very antsy until something catches fire. For some reason I was reading a book of articles by the science fiction writer Neil Gaiman, caught him carrying on during interviews on YouTube and realized my mystery had stalled because I wasn't having fun. I've just started picking up the pieces with the good ol' "what if?" Maybe that's the key.

Shelly Frome

Kaye George said...

Linda, I hope you get a LOT out of this post and the comments.

Vicki, I'm sorry for your tough times. A lot of us have been having them! Hugs to you, too.

E.B., I agree that Kris is right. We look like we're fooling around when we're creating. Well, sometimes we ARE fooling around, but we're still creating. Thanks for that quote.

Shelly, the old "what if" is a good thing to keep in mind! And having fun? Yes, that's key, too, but sometimes hard to get to. I'm going to try to find the energy and then go to it!

cj petterson said...

I only want someone to come over here and write a few words "for" me. Never mind, I'd probably edit those to death as well. Thanks for the post, Kaye. It's words like these that sit my butt in the chair again. Marilyn (aka "cj")

LD Masterson said...

When all my usual jump-start techniques fail me, I write a letter. And I make sure I include a detailed re-telling of some happening this person would enjoy hearing about. Something funny works best because I'll try to doctor it up a little, to make it funnier for the reader. That gets my head and my fingers in sync again and off I go.

authorlindathorne said...

It's nice hearing Kaye and those of you commenting with similar experiences. We all seem to have had our moments. I like some of your ideas on how to work around problems and finding a key to resolution. Thank you, E.B. Davis for the post on Kris Kristofferson. My understanding is his "claim to fame" came after he started out cleaning the floors at the Grand Ole Opry here in Nashville. The story I heard reeked of someone determined (in a selfish way) to get some where come hell or high water. He did it.

Kaye George said...

cj, you're welcome! Editing to death is another way to stall our writing, isn't it?

LD, I like that idea. I'll try it!

Linda, I don't think I've thanked you for having me here today. It's been fun and informative. I'm so glad to be posting for you.

Polly Iyer said...

Excellent column, Kaye, and very apropos for me. I've been trying to write for the last few months and can't. I've always admired your concentration, even with all the things going on in your life. I needed this post. I will write tomorrow. If I don't, I'll clean my house.

Kaye George said...

Polly, I haven't written much at all lately, so don't admire that. But, if you get your house clean, please come over and start on mine. That said, may we both--all of us--get a bunch of words out this month.

Unknown said...

Great post, Kaye! I use a timer, too, but I use it to limit the time I spend on other things. I found myself spending far too much time on e-mail and Facebook, so I started setting a timer for twenty minutes. When it goes off, I have to go back to writing; if I can, I'll get back to the other thing when I've written enough to meet whatever goal I've set (or revised enough, since that's how I seem to spend most of my writing time). And my timer went off a couple of minutes ago, so I'd better finish this post up quickly!

Kaye George said...

You know, I should do that. I set a timer for my writing and stay at it until it goes off, about an hour. The idea is that I walk around a few minutes, then set it for another hour (if there's time that day). But setting it for email and fb is maybe even better. Thanks!

authorlindathorne said...

You sure don't need to thank me for giving you my scheduled day. I asked because I was "posted out" with all the other things I was doing. You've done a good job too. Lots of comments and people bantering about some of the same, but different things writers go through.

Morgan Mandel said...

My reasons vary from your list, but I'm very well acquainted with them all.

Kaye George said...

Linda, it looks like my topic has hit a nerve in several people. Actually, it was all I could think to write about because my writing has been suffering so much in recent months.

Morgan, it's tough!

Ina said...

Thanks so much for this - it's a good reminder.

Kaye George said...

You're welcome, Ina Roy.

Amy Curry said...

I recently took on a new position at work and several more "jobs" at church. Writing has been harder and harder to find time for. But I have decided that even thirty minutes or one hour is better than nothing. I also agree that going back over what was previously written is a huge help in the jump start area. I find that I am editing, adding, and then continuing on! Thank you for this article and all the responses!

Kaye George said...

That's good, Amy. It can be a challenge! Some people even tell themselves they'll do 15 minutes. Once you get going, it sometimes gets easier--if you have the time, of course! Good luck.