Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Writing Gremlins

I considered not posting anything today, but that seems cowardly. And seductive, because once you stop writing for one very good reason it starts breeding and suddenly you're buried under a small mountain of Reasons Why I Can't Write tribbles.

I have other writing gremlins, too, and I thought I should give them all proper names:

Bouncing Boogerat: Feeds on nasty rejections from snotty editors and piddles on any attempt to get over them by writing something new

Cast Crusher: Squashes the life out of characters one by one until the cast falls apart

First Line Fumbler: Scrabbles and scratches at the first line of a story while demanding it be rewritten a few thousand times

Happily Ever After Harpy: Screeches in outrage over any logical story conclusion that does not imitate an animated Disney flick finale

Plotwrecking Pouncer: Slithers out from unseen holes to hoot over the slightest inconsistency

Series Sniveler: Whines incessantly for prequels, sequels and spin-offs and is never satisfied

Title Trasher: Demolishes every potentially decent title by insinuating that there is a better one just waiting to be thought up

I'd like to say that I've developed a way to exterminate these little pests, or at least neuter them, but no such luck. For every story I write a whole new swarm of them pop into my head; sometimes they cross-breed and produce even uglier gremlins (the first line fumbler and the HEA harpy have spawned a whole slew of little chapter crashers and scene snakes.) So I've learned to live with them, and not to feed too much of myself or the work to them; most of the time that keeps the damage to a minimum. Unless the Depression Demon shows up, at which point I hide under the bed.

Your turn: in comments name one of your gremlins (writing or otherwise) and how you've learned to manage them.


  1. Future malaise-I'm so worried about two proposals I've got floating around, I'm having a hard time focusing on the books I've got to get done now...

  2. Age Assaulter: Tells me I'm way too old to be a debut romance author.

  3. Until recently I had problems with the facebook blackhole. I'd sign on just for a second to look at something and then I'd look at the clock and realize I'd wasted two hours. Luckily Facebook just decided, despite all evidence to the contrary, that I don't exist and disabled my account. I know I'm not exactly exciting, but I'd always assumed I existed. I was a bit surprised about my non-existance but at least it gives me more time to write.

  4. Ah, the rejection letter. I have saved every single letter since 1985. One year, I turned them into toilet paper and gave them away as holiday gifts to other writers.
    Best. Year. Ever.

  5. For me, the Doubt Demons never fail to appear somewhere between having written a quarter to a half of a story - no matter what the length. They tell me various things they think will get me to stop, from the bland 'you'll never be published' to things like 'it is possible to melt from embarrassment over the drivel you are writing'. I used to always just slog through (slowly, slowly) or give into them. However, lately I've taken to outlining, which is fabulous for 'just keep writing and ignore them'.

  6. Your Reasons Why I Can't Write tribbles have moved in, bringing with them the Depression Demon.

    I open Word every day and every day, I stare at a blank page because the "Yeah, right, you think you're ever going to get published" termites start eating at any idea I might have had until my brain is as blank as the page. *sigh*

  7. Anonymous9:21 PM

    For me, its letting myself meditate into the story. I let all the little things of my day float freely around my head and they will steal hours in useless worry and planning etc. I must force these thoughts away and make myself meditate on my story... focus on the world i'm creating and block the rest. its easier to look forward to doing this, than to actually do it.

  8. I have nothing to add except