Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Insecure writer: straight from dreams to writing

 I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore because by March or April I'm all resolutioned out. And then the insecurity kicks in. I've failed with them way too many times. 

 But I do a little better with monthly goals. The great thing with monthly goals is you can reset them each month. Last month I tried a paperclip chain to motivate myself to write more days in a row, because I lose momentum if I let a few days go by without writing. I got to 9 paperclips (9 days) and then life got messy - a daughter with pneumonia, deadlines at work, etc. etc.

The first Wednesday of the month
 is time for Insecure Writers Support Group,
hosted by Alex Cavanaugh and his
excellent team. 
But now it's a new month and time to reset short term goals. No beating myself up because I didn't get a longer paperclip chain. It wasn't a long chain, but it helped for those days. I might try it again. 

This month I started out with something I've been wanting to do for years... but never remembered to actually do (or wasn't motivated enough to try).

Right before bed I read a chapter from Star Tripped, the story I've been querying and getting feedback from agents about needing more characterization. I left a pen and paper on my bed stand. 
When I woke up  I started writing while still in bed. While still half asleep! Right as I came out of a dream (which I couldn't remember, but no matter). Usually the first thing I do in the morning is get a cup of tea, but I even started writing before that. I read somewhere that the best free writing comes when you've just woken up. 

I wrote out a conversation between Cam and Lander on their greatest fears. It was so clunky to start with but then I filled 3 pages with ideas... I went way beyond fears. Those characters took me all over the place. The things in their heads!! (ha ha). I wrote until my hand hurt so bad (and I had to go to the bathroom so bad) I finally had to quit. Maybe only a few sentences of it will actually get used, but those few bits were completely worth it. 

I tried it again Monday morning and got some more suprising character developments. 

Let me emphasize, I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON.  This is not a comfortable exercise for me. I wasn't sure if it would even work with my usual morning brain fog. But in some mysterious way this writing exercise takes advantage of your brain fog... maybe because you aren't thinking clearly yet, you tap into more of your subconscious? Or left over dreams, even if you don't remember them?

However it works, it's a neat writing experience.


  1. So glad your exercise is working. And awesome that you've been getting feedback, even if it's telling you that your manuscript needs improvement.

  2. Good that it is working for you! I find myself making notes before I fall asleep--that's when my brain works best. I think we all have optimal times and finding them is what counts.

  3. I love this idea. I once read that according to research, the half asleep state, the point between which you sort of wake up and really wake up, is one of the most creative times for people. I have found that most of my really good ideas come at that time, although I haven't tried setting the manuscript next to my bed, which would be good too.
    Congrats on getting some good feedback on your work!

  4. I'm not a morning person either. Far from it! I work on my writing until I go to bed too. I'll have to try writing as soon as I wake up, though.

  5. I've done similar free writing, though not in the morning, and found it SO helpful to understand the characters better. Something about not feeling the pressure of making it work within the manuscript feels very freeing. Great idea. I might try it in the morning and see what happens.

  6. I love that idea--freewriting when you aren't quite alert enough for the Internal Editor to kick in an try to paralyze you. Wishing you all the best with your revisions!

  7. I'm become quite adept at writing those middle of the night snippets in my journal without turning on the light. I'm intrigued by your idea and I am NOT a morning person either. Think I'll give it a go.

  8. It's nice to just let your mind spill what it wants to spill when it's feeling uninhibited. I keep a dream journal, and though I haven't updated it in awhile, I remember how it has been there to help me process the clutter of my subconscious mind.

  9. Interesting experiment. I should try this. Truthfully though, my writing is best in the evenings. Something about the sun setting and the onset of darkness gets the creative gears turning...

  10. Great idea! And I totally agree with your opening comment: "I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore because by March or April I'm all resolutioned out. And then the insecurity kicks in. I've failed with them way too many times." Thanks for a great post. :)



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