Monday, August 31, 2009

Old Fashioned Bum Glue

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I've been feeling like a bit of a loser of late - perhaps it's the summer (or the week off from preschool which placed me in writing limbo) - but my writing mojo feels a little dented so I've had to claw my way back from depression-dom to start the week off. The only way I know how to beat the writing blues - not a writing block mind you - but that plague of self-doubt that hits you at midnight and which follows you through the day - is to resort to an old-fashioned tried and true method. Bum Glue.

This means that I sit down and, no matter how crappy or disillusioned I feel, I write. What gets typed may be absolute drivel (and it often is at first) but I persevere. I sit down, keep my bum glued to the seat, and write.

Tonight, as I compose this blog, I am preparing myself for the challenge of a week of bum glue ahead of me. I am trying to shaking off the panic and the angst, trying to shove back the "I'm a loser" thoughts and getting ready to face my fears. As Jim so aptly wrote in his post yesterday, I just have to move up the pyramid and the only way to do that is to keep writing.

So does anyone have any pearls of wisdom for me as I take a deep breath, wriggle my behind, and prepare? How do you restore your spirits or reclaim your writing mojo? Or am I the only one who suddenly finds themselves in that deep pit looking up and wondering how to escape?

Any tips on getting the bum glue to stick?

18 comments:

  1. According to the movie I watched last night, a writer must consume large quantities of hard liquor to be true to their calling.

    If I did that, I sure as hell would stay in my chair!

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  2. It's like coming in the house after being gone a long time. You turn on the water and it comes out brownish. You sigh and feel oppressed at the work that'll be required to fix it, but you let the water run. Then you figure there's no way the water will ever clear, but you let the water run.

    Then you figure you're an idiot for letting the water run because everyone knows it won't clear on its own, except you--which makes you the world's biggest idiot.

    But you let the water run.

    And eventually, it clears.

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  3. Liquor is good, but you end up with lots of typos. From what I hear, of course. But yeah, my mojo has gone fishing, too. I'm supposed to be starting my next story, but all I have is the title and Chapter 1. Maybe all I have to do is write that first sentence. Even if it's not the "first sentence." Yeah. I'll try that. Good luck with yours :-)

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  4. Go take a hike, Clare. Literally. What works for me is to take my last chapter to a long trail (although any street will do) and read the last bit of what you wrote. Immediately strap on your iPod (substitute any MP3 player here) dial in a playlist of mindless beat music (the type they play in aerobics classes) with no words to focus on and walk hard.

    Concentrate on the path or sidewalk directly in front of you and let you mind wander while recalling the last bit of writing you just read and for me, I go into plotting mode. Conversations start in my head and things move forward.

    You may want to carry a voice recorder with you if your memory is as bad as mine.

    Cool thing is, when you get back to your computer, you're charged up bothe physically and mentally and you should be able to make up the time it took to walk. If not, hey, you got in some well needed exercise and some "ME" time.

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  5. We must be on the same wavelength, Clare. I have a book coming out tomorrow, but nonetheless am mired in writer's gloom.

    But as you say, butt-glued-in-chair is the only remedy.

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  6. Thanks! Lily - that sounds like such a great idea but I'm pretty sure I would be asleep at the keyboard:) I did get a chance to hike a wee bit on the weekend Will, but as I was with my boys I can't say I had any time for contemplation - but that's what I definitely should do!Chris, I will let the water run clear - though God only knows how much brown stuff is going to come out:)!

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  7. Kathryn - congrats on your new book! We will both have to dispel the gloom with the bum glue remedy - let me know how it goes for you:)!

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  8. Langley-Hawthorne's Bum Glue would be a big seller among writers. I'll take the first tube.

    It helps to know all writers, without exception, feel this way from time to time, no matter where on the pyramid they are. Jack Bickham wrote:

    "All of us are scared: of looking dumb, of running out of ideas, of never selling our copy, of not getting noticed. We fiction writers make a business of being scared, and not just of looking dumb. Some of these fears may never go away, and we may just have to learn to live with them."

    Stephen King talks about the "waves of doubt" in his book On Writing, and says that's one of the reasons he wrote so much (1500 words a day, every day, except his birthday and the Fourth of July). It kept him ahead of the wave.

    So yes, Bum Glue and flying fingers. Do you ever do "morning pages" or the "ten minute writing exercise"? That's where you just begin writing, and don't stop, on anything at all. No worries about content or syntax or story. Just write. A good starter is to begin with "I remember..." and just go. It gets the juices flowing.

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  9. Wow, I can identify with that. I have a tendency to put too much on my schedule. Kind of like how airlines overbook in the expectation that someone is not going to show. But my stuff usually shows up and I do it. Then by the time I sit to write I am too tired for the words to come together coherently and I depressed, especially when I've reached a point several chapters in.

    My best solution I suppose would be the bum glue to keep me in the chair...and only one chair at a time.

    Speaking of multiple chairs though, I am going to be hosting a local Alaska live talk radio show this week. If any of you are interested in giving a listen check it out live on www.kbyr.com 1-4 Pacific time Tues-Thur.

    sigh...I gues that undoes what I just tried to do with the bum glue.

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  10. Hi Jim - the morning thing might be a good idea just to get the creaky gears back in motion - although it's only been a week I feel like it's been forever (ah, the angst of a writer...:)!)
    In the meantime I'll ride out the waves of self-doubt. Thanks for the boost:)

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  11. Basil - I can definitely identify with the overscheduling thing! Sometimes I think I need to have a clone mum and a clone wife:) I'll try and check out the radio show...oh no there goes the bum glue already:)!

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  12. I don't know how to make you sit at your desk but maybe your self doubts will take a little step back if I tell you I just read your first book last week and it was terrific: not quite what I expected but in a lovely, surprising way. So you're clearly a talented writer (which I am sure you know) and I'm sure the good days will come again. And I'll be looking forward to reading whatever you produce :)

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  13. I've been forcing myself to stay in my chair lately. It's so easy to get distracted and I'm constantly plagued by those doubts. After wallowing in them for awhile, my stubborn side surfaces and tells me I'm not quitting, so stop whining and get to work.

    Sometimes it works.

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  14. You're not alone. I'm hearing it from a few writer friends. I blame the season changing.

    My best technique is to get at it sideways: go to the museum, the park, anywhere out of the house. Just switch to input mode. Observe, notice, and examine something completely outside your medium. Take your time. Be attentive, but don't try to write about it yet (not even in your head). Usually, when I get home, the spark has lit that fuel and I'm ready to start again. I read back a chapter into the current project to get the rhythm of the book and then work up to where I'm stuck.

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  15. In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway wrote, "I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.' So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.

    I hope this helps.

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  16. When I first saw your title I read it as "blue gum". Maybe you could chew blue gum after applying your bum glue. Hey, whatever gets you past the writing doldrums, right?

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