My Crazy Creative Writing Bucket

So many thoughts tumble through my head and I think, “Yeah, I’ll write that,” and then when I come to the blank page all those words, phrases and ideas skip right out of grasp and I’m left staring at the blank page, wondering why am I here?

I think my crazy creative writing bucket is empty. 

I’ve had months of that crazy-empty-creative-bucket kind of thing going on. I’ve been writing and rewriting Tuppence Weatherstorm and even changed up one of the romantic love interest characters and it seemed so great, so right, so awesome and then I realised just how much he was going to change the original story and my anxiety went CRAZY-BOOM!

I thought I’d totally wrecked my story. Sure, I loved the character, but my mind raced around slapping me with anxiety story after story. One part of me beat me senseless for being so foolish as to change a main love interest character when I have to story already written. Another part froze in place because it didn’t know which way to go. And yet another part of me loves this character so much I want to keep going with him. And another part of me wants to give up creative writing altogether because it doesn’t think I can do it. Oh my anxiety has been telling me such silly stories. Stories it wants me to think are true but aren’t. It’s tough when this happens because it’s hard to tell fiction from non-fiction when thinking about fiction.

Is that complex or what?

I’d also received some excellent feedback from one of my writing teachers and mentors on the structure of the current story and he asked me to focus on bringing out the goals, obstacles, stakes and tactics for each of the main characters because it wasn’t clear enough. That’s so great and exciting and my head went whirling into all the layers and that’s when I crashed again. 

All the ‘what ifs’ surfaced and scratched at my confidence, cutting deep and trying to rip me to shreds. Thanks anxiety. Silly fears telling me that the more work I do on Tuppence Weatherstorm the more I’m wrecking the story and the muddier I am making the colours of my characters. But I think every piece of creative work goes through a muddy stage and I’m in the mud right now. 

So, I’ve put my story aside for about a week now because I simply don’t know what to do. 

I want to write creatively but I can’t (at the moment). I feel like I’ve lost my creative writing mojo but I’m sure it will return. Right now I think my creative bucket is empty and it needs to be filled up and revved up with nourishment. 

In the meantime, I’ve also had a lovely reader contact me about my (sadly) half finished Wattpad story, The Living Death of Toddy James. She pointed out all the errors I have in the manuscript so far (in a really helpful and respectful way which I was grateful to receive) and then she said how much she was enjoying the story and asked me when do I update because she’s hooked! 

I was so thrilled that she loved what I’d written so far and even though she noticed the errors they didn’t deter her from reading and getting into the characters and story. That’s a great compliment and one I want to honour. I want to finish the story so she can find out what happens next. 

But … my creative bucket is so dry it’s like a barren desert. 

What an awesome comment for me to receive from a reader right at the time in my writing life when I feel creatively deader than a doornail. I was so stoked to hear from her and it made me realise just how much I’d let that story go stagnant. The reason I couldn’t write anything more on that story at the time was that I wanted to focus on getting Tuppence Weatherstorm up to publication standard and I had a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of emotional stuff go on in my life and I just couldn’t split my focus across two big creative writing projects and do them both the service they required. 

So the story of The Living Death of Toddy James went into limbo and is still there. I hope to jump start Toddy James’ dead heart in October. I’ve got a rough plot for the story and the characters but things evolve as I write and then things twist and go all over the place which is exciting because I love discovery writing but sometimes it turns into a pain because its a tangent that I’ll just have to cut later. I need to be more structured and stick to my outline, at least enough to keep on track and avoid writing my story into a corner which I think happened with Toddy James. That’s what happens when I pants my way through a story and don’t apply enough of the plotting I’ve learned to do. 

I guess, in a way I feel exhausted.

Anyway, in August I found out about the Romance Writers of Australia Conference (RWA) and I really wanted to go. I wanted to be a part of a writer’s community and to learn about writing romance. I didn’t get to the conference because I found out about it on the weekend it ran in Brisbane but I decided to join RWA as an aspiring author because that’s what I am.

I am aspiring.

Maybe next year I’ll get to the conference, but in the meantime the RWA offers online courses, a great monthly newsletter, avenues to connect with editors, authors and publishers in the romance world, and they help you to develop your writing skills through their forums. If I want, I can even request a critique partner and see who I ‘click’ with.  I might do that next year after I get through this creative dry spell. 

I do love to read a good romance, preferably with a supernatural theme which mirrors the type of stories I like to imagine and write.  Also, over the last two years I realised that my own romance plots are a bit on the thin side so it was time to dive in to a new learning curve.

I’ve started reading short romance fiction to become more familiar with the genre and I’m going to do a couple of short courses with RWA and another lovely romance writer, Juliet Madison who runs her own classes too. I’m interested in learning how to write a lovella (a love novella) so that I can learn the genre and how to write shorter fiction. This will help me grow as a writer in all sorts of ways so it’s going to be good.

I’ve also recently completed a two week intensive writing course through Margie Lawson Writers Academy on Show, Not Tell with Shirley Jump. That was a hard course because it challenged me to stop telling all the time and to show the character’s emotions in action. Showing is much harder than it looks but it’s a skill I need to learn to take my writing to the next level.  The Show, Not Tell course was excellent.

I think I’ve only just learned the tip of the iceberg (as the cliche goes) on how to show and not tell but it’s a start.

So what else has been going on that’s been taking my attention away from creative writing and making me feel creatively barren?

Well …

I’m in the middle of moving house – boxes everywhere and lacking the motivation to fill them, saving like crazy for a house deposit so I no longer have to move on the request of a landlord, Rocket (my poodle) had to go to the vet for an ultrasound because he had blood showing in his urine during a routine health check but he’s okay now, my mum’s been diagnosed with dementia which has been heartbreaking and difficult to deal with and on top of that, last week, I had a mega migraine that had me at home and in bed with heavy duty painkillers.

I guess, considering all that’s been happening in the background of my life it’s okay to have a rest from my stories and to allow myself a little bit of breathing space. 

My creative bucket will fill up when the stress of moving settles down. Two weeks and I’m in a new home. I hope that will signify a fresh start for my creative writing too. 

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