How To Stay Inactive

My writing process seems to be in full swing again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Most writers have a process by which they write their stories, whether they write novels, short stories, scripts or any other kind of narrative work. They may have a particular room in which they write, perhaps even at a particular time of day. They have their desktop, laptop, or maybe even their typewriter on a favorite desk or table in their home. They might even go out to a local coffee shop to be inspired by the hustle and bustle around them, working through the chaos of everyday life.

I have a process as well. It mostly involves not writing.

Sounds counter-productive, doesn’t it?

Well, it is. Extremely.

I think more than I write. I brainstorm, I hypothesize, I theorize, I ponder what my characters could do in a given situation. I have an idea, and am soon distracted by another. I have come to accept that that’s just how I do things.

Lately, I have been working almost exclusively on my apocalypse story and one of the chapters in my short story novel. A couple weeks ago, a phrase I overheard inspired another short story idea, and I jotted down a few notes and a paragraph or two for it. I have also had a strong desire to return to my fantasy story, a work I’ll touch on in an upcoming post, possibly my next.

In addition, I also have a job. And a family. And some trace of a social life — as much as one can have with said job and a family.

Basically, I have all the time in the world to think, but very little time to actually write it all down. It can be maddening, particularly since my goal is to get to a point where I can do this for a living. Write, that is — not just think about writing. I do enough of that.

So I think about writing. Occasionally, I even write about writing. But do I actually write? Not so much. Not lately, at least.

With me, it really does seem to come and go. For a month or two, I will have a million and a half ideas every other day and barely enough time to even scribble a note. Then the well dries up, and I’m faced with the same million and a half ideas with great opening lines, interesting titles, an intriguing premise or two . . . and little else. My strengths lie in the formation of and the slow, steady nurturing of projects. My biggest weakness is actually finishing them.

I have started dozens — possibly over a hundred — short stories over the years. As of this writing, I have finished a grand total of five. I have another two or three that are probably nearing completion. However, for me, “nearing completion” doesn’t mean a damn thing.

If I am going to pursue this, I need to start actually pursuing it. Being passive certainly hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

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About [rlh]

Ryan L. Haddock is an aspiring writer, emphasis on the "aspiring." He mostly writes short stories, but that is only because he doesn't seem to have the attention span necessary to write a novel. At least, not yet. He is also a husband and a father . . . yet he is still struggling valiantly against the notion that he has to grow up. View all posts by [rlh]

One response to “How To Stay Inactive

  • Joshua Walker

    I hear you man. As a husband, father, and employee, finding time to work on creative projects like new songs or screenplay ideas is tough. And maddening is a good term for it. Having a great idea and no time to write it down or “go with the flow” of creativity feels like flushing so much potential down the drain. It’s like stopping a sneeze, but much worse.

    Best of luck. I read that Stephen King said that if you don’t spend 4 hours a day on writing, you’re not dedicated enough. My initial reaction is that that is too extreme, but he is super successful. Though he did live in abject poverty until his first novel was published.

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