• Member Since 6th Oct, 2011
  • offline last seen Jan 1st, 2018

The Equestrian Gentlecolt

More Blog Posts35

  • 413 weeks
    Merry Christmas

    That's all. No particular news or announcements, no new stories, just felt like it was something that should be said. I hope everyone is making the most of their holiday season, whatever it may mean to them.

    So, Merry Christmas.

    1 comments · 539 views
  • 454 weeks
    Going pretty well, actually

    I haven't updated since I started my draft, have I? Well, I've been dedicating my writing time almost exclusively to Perfect for Me Too, and things are looking good. I'm about 80% done with the first draft (not 80% of the way to the end, though - the missing bits are mostly supporting and transitional scenes scattered throughout), and it's shaping up to be in the area of 50k words. I'm happy with

    Read More

    6 comments · 793 views
  • 464 weeks
    The Chapter Nobody Asked For!

    At least, I'm pretty sure nobody did. Ever wonder what the rest of The Prim Rose of Palamino Vale was like? Well, even if you did, you won't want to know after you've read this excerpt. Not safe for work. It's as explicit as it sounded, and you really don't want to have to explain this one to your coworkers if you start laughing.

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    7 comments · 809 views
  • 465 weeks
    Coming Unstuck

    It sucks to be stuck like I was. Nobody should have to go through wanting--not just knowing it’s something you should get around to, but really actually wanting--to do something for over a year, and yet somehow just... not. But I know, being a reader myself, that it’s an alarmingly common condition. I’m still in constant danger of slipping back into it myself, but finishing Perfect For Me

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    3 comments · 697 views
  • 465 weeks
    Finally, with apologies

    The last chapters of Perfect For Me are up. I told you I'd finish it. Worth waiting a year for? I wouldn't go that far. But at least worth reading.

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    14 comments · 713 views

Coming Unstuck · 9:05pm Dec 24th, 2013

It sucks to be stuck like I was. Nobody should have to go through wanting--not just knowing it’s something you should get around to, but really actually wanting--to do something for over a year, and yet somehow just... not. But I know, being a reader myself, that it’s an alarmingly common condition. I’m still in constant danger of slipping back into it myself, but finishing Perfect For Me was a huge victory, and a big weight off my shoulders.

I don’t want anyone to have to go through that, but what can you do, right? What I can do is assemble a list of things that helped me. Sure, different things will work for different people, but if even one or two of them help one or two people, the world is going to be a little bit better off.

First, the way I kept myself writing something regularly was best expressed by Seinfeld's (the comedian, not the comedy) "don't break the chain" thing. A little visual feedback can go a long way; for me it's little red button on my tablet with a number of how many days I've been going in a row, and it turns green each day when I press it. The basic idea (and the whole thing is really simple) is to build a chain of continuous days doing whatever; missing a single day means losing the whole thing and having to start over. Kind of like chasing an achievement, if you're into that sort of thing.

As for what to write, the right answer to that was anything. I didn’t worry about whether or not it was something I was “supposed” to write. I definitely didn’t worry if it wasn’t anything I ever planned to publish, or even finish. In fact, I was better off because I decided ahead of time that I wouldn’t publish it. (But I can always change my mind later.) Writing something for myself, and literally only for myself, meant not overthinking it by worrying about how an audience would take it. You’ve probably felt it before when you wrote your own first chapter or first story. It’s really nice, and you can recapture it.

Next, I don’t limit myself on how much, or how little, I write each day. Once I've started, even if I trail off after a single paragraph, I call it good for the day. It takes a lot of the pressure out of committing to a regular thing, and in all the two and a half months I’ve been doing it, there may have been two or three times total that I actually stopped without writing for at least an hour. Once I’ve put a few words down, I'm always surprised by how many more are there waiting behind them.

The next thing is an odd one, speaking of having words waiting for me to write them. Somewhere along the line, I discovered that one of my biggest creative blocks has been my typing speed. Not too slow, but too fast! Most of my time was spent staring at the end of a completed sentence and wondering what the heck I would write next. Then I’d wander back onto the last thing I’d written and start editing it, which completely distracted me from the actual writing. When I started writing on my tablet, with the gesture typing keyboard (Swype style), it slowed me down enough that I couldn't write the words as fast as they came to me. And paradoxically, that increased my story creating speed tenfold. With my concentration taken up by the (rather silly, but surprisingly effective) input method, I was already subconsciously planning paragraphs ahead of myself. Also, it didn’t leave me with time to worry about getting everything perfect the first time through. That’s a good thing; first drafts exist for a reason.

Eventually, after gathering enough momentum and finishing a logical ending point in my favorite project (that novel), going back to Perfect For Me just seemed natural.

I also found a couple of interesting things on the “writing tips” front. The first was that almost all of my writer’s block moments were finally ended by me thinking, “Well, why don’t I just say that?” Once I’d actually put words to what was bothering me, all I had to do was put those words into the story. In one story, I was having trouble with a moment that I kept trying to let play out in a genre-typical fashion. Think of the moment with Discord when Fluttershy first ropes him in with the threat of losing her friendship. But it just didn’t work for my characters, no matter how many times I stopped and started over. So I made the villain a little bit genre-savvy. Once she’d described how I’d originally written the scene, in terms of it not happening, it obviously couldn’t go that way anymore. But suddenly, it had a whole new direction, because the villain’s words prompt a natural response: No, actually, I was going to say something completely opposite that.

The other (related) thing I found useful was, when I was really stuck, asking the characters what they thought. When I ground to a halt in the middle of the second to last chapter of Perfect For Me, I finally sat Twilight herself (either one) down with quill and paper and had her explain the problem, and her thoughts on her situation in general, as she saw it. What was bothering her, what wasn’t bothering her, everything. And she explained the whole thing, in the slightly sarcastic first person, a lot better than I ever could have. (What? Well, you know what I mean.) So I looked over that little essay, and thought: This is awfully long. But long, wordy explanations are so typically Twilight that wouldn’t it be hilarious if I took parts of this and strung them into one huge, uninterrupted run-on paragraph, with the two Twilights taking turns catching their breath and speaking?

Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

So there you have it. If any part of that looks interesting to you, I encourage you to take it and run with it. I can’t emphasize enough that it could work out better than you expect. It certainly surprised me.

Comments ( 3 )

Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

It was! Also, I've been there. These are some good tips. Some I've used myself, some I haven't heard of before. Here are a couple I didn't see up there:

Set aside time for being creative every day.
Note that I didn't say writing time, because you may not be able to write the whole time. This also doesn't have to be the same time every day. It doesn't have to be for a certain duration. You don't have to write the entire time, or stop just because you've reached an hour... or two, or three, or whatever. But knowing "this is my creative time" helps. This is especially important when you're in a relationship, which leads into my next point:

Let your significant other/roommates/family know that you would like to have uninterrupted creative time
If you live with someone else, the potential for being interrupted while on a hot streak is amazingly high. The more naturally the words are flowing, the better the odds are of being interrupted. Let the folks you live with know that, until they see you poke your head out of your creative habitat, you are incommunicado for anything that is not a "the house is burning down!" style emergency. Which also leads to my next point:

Have a place you can go that's yours
Environment is important. Not so much at first, but as you go on, you'll start to think of the space as "my writing space". And, interestingly enough, once you enter it, you may find yourself entering a writing frame of mind as well.

Your space should have limited distractions, but it should also be comfortable and a reflection of who you are. Silly time-wasters are a no-no. So, no Rubik's cubes, slinkies, or other things to mess with instead of writing. That goes for your phone, as well. Turn it off, or leave it in another room. Your email/texting/twitter can wait.

As for what to write when you're feeling stuck, I've never thought of "asking" the character. That's a good one. What I would do would be to think of something that happened to that character. Often times, some little character quirk will pop up while I'm writing, and I'll try to explore where that came from. When I do that, I not only get to know the character better, but sometimes I'll get something I can put into the story itself. My character Plum Pudding's love of birds is one such thing.

Anyway, like I said, it's good to have you back. Since I've been stuck myself, I know how much it sucked for you. But having figured out how to get unstuck will end up making you an even stronger writer in the future!

Ooh, that's all good advice too. And you're right, I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did if I hadn't set firm boundaries on my writing time, in terms of what's around me and who can interrupt me. If I could just get my coworkers to leave me alone, I could make much better use of my lunch break too. It's a great time to pick up my tablet and write a few words, I just can't write very many in a row some days.

One neat thing is, somewhere along the line, my tablet became my writing space. Now I can get into the writing mood almost anywhere. Another reason I've been keeping it up so successfully, I think.

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