Writing Blues


The astute among you may have noted that, in recent weeks, there’s been a drastic slowdown in the frequency of posts on this blog. Indeed, but for our regularly scheduled Tuesday trawl through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there could have been weeks with no posts whatsoever.

This has been, and continues to be a frustration to me, and I’d like to think that at least some of you are wondering why you’re not getting the usual diet of opinions, attitudes and snappy remarks.

It’s been something of a difficult year for me, in a different form than difficult years usually take. This past few years, one of the few saving graces that has helped keep me on an even keel, mentally, has been writing. Most of the time, that meant books of one kind or another. But in November 2013, for that year’s NaMoWriMo, I started on a story idea that was a big variation of what I was used to writing. It wasn’t any kind of fantastic story, it wasn’t intentionally funny, it was mainly concerned with relationships, and, the biggest change of all, was that it centred upon a female viewpoint.

I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, in that I wrote more than 50,000 words, though I came nowhere near completing this novel. I carried on, with less discipline, accumulating words until I was around 100,000 and probably about two-thirds done, but by that time, my confidence was low. I wasn’t writing naturally, I was growing concerned about whether I could successfully write from a female viewpoint, and the novel slowed to a crawl, then a halt.

I haven’t been able to manage any sustained writing since, now even on subjects which fall, more naturally, into my ‘established’ style.

Of course, the increasing concentration on this blog has been in no way helpful. For four years or so, I have been concentrating on a wide variety of subjects, shorter-form essays, and this seems to have diminished my ability for concentrated, long form writing.

For a large part of this year, I have been struggling forwards with a long-planned novel, a sort of sideways sequel to the Richard and Susan trilogy. Those books were wonderful, flowing stuff to write. They gave me confidence that I had a subconscious ability to structure stories, work to an unforeseen but satisfactory conclusion. It isn’t like that now.

What is worse is that, over the last three months or so, the mental energy necessary for any kind of writing has been steadily diminishing. The concentration for longer pieces is lacking, indeed for the past couple of weeks and more, I’ve had no ability to concentrate at all.

This is frustrating in any circumstances. It has affected my ability to read, and even my concentration on DVDs. I often find myself at a loose end at home, mindlessly circling the Internet, trying to find something that will occupy time. It’s doubly frustrating at work, on those days when there are long delays between incoming calls, when normally I would have something in my head and would pursue it, often in fits and starts as duties take precedence, until e-mailing myself a thousand words or more. My head, most often, is now empty.

To take a current example. It is nearly a fortnight since I completed re-reading George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman in the Great Game, yet I still don’t even have my review piece on it anywhere near half-written. I can’t raise the concentration to progress it.

I’ve no answers to this problem. Mentally, I’m feeling tired and uninspired, and I need to grit my way through that and get my head together. This was at least relatively easy to write, and maybe it can kick start the writing part of my head to further action.

You’ll see if it does.

PS: The best part of 1,500 words on Flashman later…

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2 thoughts on “Writing Blues

  1. I don’t spend that much time on tv or film as it is, especially not on things I’m not planning to comment upon. The internet has been a stopgap because I’ve found concentrating on other things so hard. I did go on to work on the next long piece for the blog, so it can be overcome.

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