Time to Write. Or; Why setting unrealistic goals will make you hate yourself and curl into a ball of shame and self doubt.

At the beginning of the year my plan was to get organised with my writing routine so I started keeping a goals diary. With all the excitement one has with a new item of stationary (read: a hell of a lot), I went through the first few weeks and wrote my goals in for each weekend. ‘Finish Chapters 5-8’, ‘World build’, ‘Plot up to ch 20’, ‘Figure out X’s back story’, stuff like that.
Looking at my plan all laid out, I knew this would be the year I got things done. 
Then I got cocky. One goal a week? What was I? I’m a serious writer now. I need a goal a day. I need a goal for each category – a work on a chapter goal, a world building goal, a plotting goal. I went a bit crazy and planned out all my new improved goals for the first few months as of the year, and what was this… I could be done by July. If I just followed my plan I’d have a draft within a few months. Why had I wasted so much time? I was going to do this!

So, surprise. That didn’t pan out.

And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I tried to stick to my ridiculous daily goals right up until the point I got frustrated and gave up.

The problem I didn’t account for was time. I know. It’s a common thing we all want more of. But I’ll tell you where I went really wrong. (Apart from overloading my expectations of myself, which is a whole other post). See, I can set a goal and say; ‘this week I’m going to finish chapter X’, or, ‘this week I want to write 5000 words’. Pretty easy to plan that.
But your brain lies to you. I can plan to meet that goal easily enough. I’ll write in down in my goals diary and when I look at it do you know what’s going through my head? 
”I have a whole week to get this done.”

Lies.

See, what’s really going on is in a week’s time, I need to have done this. A week will pass, then the deadline’s arrived. I don’t have a week.
 Within the time between setting the goal and meeting the deadline I have to go to work, sleep, eat, spend some time with Boyfriend and family, and do all the other boring things that fill up adult life. I have my spare time to write. Not a week.
I don’t even have days. I have hours.

Let’s break this down.

Out of the 168 hours in a week.

I’ll spend about 40 hours at work, or driving to work, or getting ready for work. 49 hours sleeping, 7 hours shopping for, preparing, cooking and eating food, 5 being an adult and making sure my house is not a pit and I have clean clothes and all those other boring adult things.

That’s already 101 hours eaten up and that’s just the essential stuff. 68 hours left. That’s AGES, right?

Let’s look at my luxury time for the week.

Now, I’m a big fan of hermiting my self away to write, but I do need some social contact every now and then. I have a bad habit of ignoring the people I love, which might be good for the word count but is not good for my emotional well-being. I’m not going to pretend that juggling the guilt between social commitments and personal ambition is easy. It’s not. But, let’s pretend I’m a good human being and I spend about 2 hours a day interacting with other members of the human race. So that’s another 14 gone.

I’ll also spend around 5 hours a week working my way through the piles of books lying around my house, 5 hours practicing Tai Chi, and I’ll also give myself around 5 hours of relaxing me-time.

That’s 130 hours of my week. And to be honest I’m being generous with my luxury time. (And pretending I don’t waste even more time online.)

I have 38 hours left.

That’s pretty great, hey? It’s a lot of time when you look at it, but it sure as hell isn’t a week. It’s kind of close to days, but I was being dramatic before to make a point. And let’s be real about this – that 38 gets chipped away more and more throughout the week as surprise obligations come up. 
Sure, some people will have more time, and some will have less. The point is, when you’re setting a goal with a deadline, there’s the elapsed time, and then there’s your actual time. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’ve got the entire time up to your deadline. You only have a tiny, tiny, fraction of it. 

I think it’s important, especially for creative people, to recognise the limits time has on their ambition, and to learn how to work within those limits rather than having them work against you. Without being negative, some people (read: me) tend to get caught up in their plans with no real sense of how much actual time they need to invest in them.

Like me at the beginning of the year. It took two weeks for me to have a failure meltdown. Discouraged and filled with self hate, I scrapped the whole system. With no real method or plan, I was just hammering words out for the sake of feeling productive.

So here’s a new approach. I can set myself goals, ‘get the chapter done’ whatever it is, but instead of giving myself a date to reach it, I’ll give myself time chunks. I’ll say, ‘this week I’m going to write 20 half hour sessions’, set a timer and work towards that.
 Ideally, if I’m writing in focused blocks of time, then I’ll reach the goal anyway, while building up good writing habits.

 Bonus!
I’m also a big fan of gamification. The idea of ticking off these chunks of time is like a game. And it’s much more rewarding to my freak brain then crossing off an item on a list. But hey, whatever works for you, right?

I still have my story goals in mind. I know what I want to work on when I sit down, but with a time limit instead of a far-off date in my mind, I’m aware of how much time I’m working towards finishing, and how much time I’m wasting.


So what do you guys think? How do you set goals for yourselves, and what do you put in place to help you meet them?

 

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Writer’s Block: Name it to Tame it.

Something that has always annoyed and baffled me is being told that writers block doesn’t exist; that it’s an excuse, a myth.
I think that that attitude is unhelpful, especially to someone sitting in front of their computer for the nth day in a row, howling in frustration that the words aren’t coming. It’s a myth? Then why aren’t I writing?
Telling someone, ‘It’s all in your mind, you just need to get over it’ is about as helpful as saying, ‘When it rains things get wet, unless those things aren’t in the rain.’
Obviously it’s in your mind. Obviously you need to get over it. But that “advice” only points out the problem – it doesn’t offer a solution.

And more than that, before we even start thinking about a solution to the Block – we need to think about what’s causing it, what it feels like, and why it happens. You can’t fix something if you don’t know why it’s broken.
I’m a big believer in giving your problems a name. Once you can identify them – you will know what you’re fighting against.

So. Let’s do this. Writer’s Block Vs. the Writer.

Round 1 – What is this feeling I’m feeling?

To me, the Block feels like I’m in a maze, surrounded by an overwhelming amount of choices. What I want to do, what I need to do, what I have to do, and on and on forever. Other times it’s like a pit I’ve fallen down. I look up to that circle of light where the story I want exists and just cannot figure out how to get there. 

I know logically I need to just start. Only way out of the maze is to start walking. Only way out of the pit is to start climbing. But holy hell, that first step is 14 billion times harder than any step after it.

The problems isn’t that I can’t think of anything (although I’ve had my fair share of those blocks), but that I can’t think of the right thing. If I’m trapped in the maze I don’t want to waste my time exploring one tunnel only to find out it’s a dead end and have to backtrack. If I do that, I’ll starve before I get out, so instead I sit down in a petulant heap and wait to rescue to come to me. Which is the worst possible choice, I know, but it’s how my idiot brain works at the time.

That feeling and the desire not to make a mistake is the major stopping point for me. But there’s more to it.

Round 2 – It’s freezing over here.

That feeling of overwhelming helplessness is what freezes me, but it’s not the only factor in play. Why don’t I just get over it and forge forward? Why can’t I start again once I’ve hit the block? I think it comes down to two things. The obvious one, everyone’s old favourite, is of course fear. (With a healthy does of self doubt mixed in, yay!)

Those swirling thoughts of, ‘What if I suck, what if no one else will care about the story I’m slaving over, and any one up to this point who has said anything remotely complimentary were being polite anyway, because they had to find something to say to hide from the embarrassment of reading something so atrocious and oh my god I’m a fraud, I’m a hack, I still confuse ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ I’ve never read Steven King I don’t even know what I need to know to make me better I need to curl up and die now…’

*deep breaths*

Fear’s a big one. And it’s not going to go away. Which doesn’t have to be a bad thing – name it to tame it, remember? Recognising that fear of failure, that fear of not living up to the oh-so high expectations I hold for myself, the fear of being exposed or thought of as a ‘bad writer’ is an important step to overcoming the block. (Beside, a writer without self doubt is an asshole, amirite?) 

The other feeling that keeps me frozen is one I’ve only just identified after countless staring contests with my screen (and even though the cursor blinks first, I always lose).
It’s impatience.

You’d think that impatience would mean I’d write faster, write more, be so obsessed with getting word after word out so that it’s finally done. Instead, I find myself constantly comparing what I expect of myself and what I actually am, I freeze up, frustrated that I’m not there yet.

And I think that’s my biggest flaw. I’m so focused on what I want the words to be, on how they should work in this version of the perfect story that exists only in my head, so focused on the things I’m wanting to achieve that I lose sight of writing in the moment. And that’s where it gets me.

I sit and and stew about how this chapter isn’t working or this character’s voice is all wrong and how do I go from A to Z and I’m paralysed by frustration and fear and wanting to be perfect right away when the answer is that the only way from A to Z is via B, C, D… and all the letters in between. And that’s obvious advice, yeah? But when you’re so focused on the fear and the impatience… all these negative drag-you-down emotions, it’s easy to miss the obvious.

Round 3 – the little victories.

So. I know why I get blocked. I know why it stops me, and why I prevent myself from picking up and forging on.

How do I fix it?

I don’t think that there’s one way every time to smash through what’s blocking me, and that’s OK.

Sometime, stream-of-consciousness wordvomit is helpful. It’s the most boring advice in the world, I know. Direct from the people who tell you writer’s block is a myth; “Just write anything, anything at all, and something will come of it.” 

Those smug jerks.

But alas, the smug jerks are sometimes right. Personally, I don’t find the ‘just write anything’ approach all that helpful. The wordvomit is going to be bad enough, I don’t need to sift through it cutting out stream-of-consciousness nothingness. (though that may be the impatience talking again). Writing “anything”, in my opinion, is nearly as bad as nothing. If I want to fix something, I want to have a plan for HOW to fix it, and throwing words out from the recesses of my mind is not the way to help me. It might be the way to help you, different strokes and all that, but I’m after a more structured way to fix my problem.

What I do is write about what’s happening in the scene at that moment without thinking about what’s wrong with it and trying as hard as possible not to think about what I want or need to happen. I wordvomit a summary of the scene as it is (in what ever horrendous state that happens to be) and then take a step back and look at it.
Some people try to write about what is wrong to identify what’s not working, and I think that could be a great approach, but I find I often don’t know what’s wrong until I look more closely at the scene. I find after I get into the groove of the wordvomit I’m able to detach myself from what I want and see it as what it is. Once I’m able to take that step back – it’s easier to identify why the scene is not working and because I’m already in that hard and detached mindset – the solution spills out of me.

Sometimes, wordvomit summaries don’t work. Sometimes the plot holes are too big and tangled around each other I can’t see it for what it is because it’s too huge of a mess. (this is otherwise know as my entire WIP)

In this case. I open a new page on Scrivener and vomit write in a different way – this time I make a list of what I want. As opposed the other approach, where I look back on what it is, in this case I look forward. I figure out what plot points are actually relevant and will get me where I want to go, and which ones I can delete or simplify or combine.

Two totally different, contradictory, strategies, but they both work. 

There are hundreds of other ways to fight the Block out there, and I’m sure they all word for someone. The point is finding one that works for you. The point is not giving in to the symptoms and rising to the challenge. You can only beat the Block if you look it in the eye and tell it how you’re going to take it down.Take the mindset that’s stopping you, explore it and use it to your advantage – you can and will discover so many things about your story by fighting with it than if things came easy.

Good luck.

the best intentions (the road to Hell)

Only recently I’ve decided to put on my ‘serious’ writer hat. I’ve been slogging away at my WIP for close to 5 years. Although, if I’m 100% honest with myself, that’s not entirely accurate. After some quick mathulations I’ve figured that I’ve put in roughly 14 months of work into it my writing. 14 months over 5 years. One year where I stopped completely after a severe self doubt spiral of awfulness. That’s… a pretty poor effort.
When I figured that out I had to stop and get myself some sadness coffee. If I had put on my serious hat sooner, I could be somewhere! Famous best selling author? No. Probably not.
But I might have finished one polished manuscript. Something I could hold up and say “It’s finished, here, you can read it! I’m proud of this!”
Instead, I have three sprawling vomitdrafts and notebook upon notebook of edits, outlines and undirected plotting. I’m having feelings about this, and none of them are positive.

In my defence, before now (‘now’ being about 4 months ago), I was only writing for a hobby. Only recently has the slow, sneaking idea that I could actually turn my words and time into something more reared its seductive head. It took me a long time to admit to myself that being published was actually my goal. I hope I’m not fooling myself. I am aware that there are a lot of weaknesses in my writing that I need to address before I can get there. Hence my new serious writer hat. Hence the road to Hell. I’ve got a lot to learn. (The day I think I have nothing more to learn about writing will be Hell, because If I ever think that I would be so arrogant and awful it wouldn’t be worth it.)

So. Here’s my deal with myself. Over the next 14 months (because that’s how long it took me to get here, sort of) I will do all the things a serious writer does. Hopefully in the next few weeks I can find out what those things are and put them into practice…

(For the record, I’m going to classify ‘procrastination’ as a thing a serious writer does. *eyes serious writers* Don’t pretend you don’t. I have this thing down pat. The rest should be a breeze, right?)

Nighttime Express

I wrote this a few years ago for a writer’s group I’m involved in. I think it’s close to being almost good, so I thought I’d share. Sharing my writing is something I’m going to need to get in the habit of. In the past I’ve been far too scared about sharing. Also, sharing the writing I’m not in love with might be helpful. That way, if people comment they will either say that it’s good and woo! free ego boost for me or, and this is far more likely, point out the weaker (crappier) parts and thus I will learn something and grow.
Well, that’s the plan.

The Nighttime Express

-26-

In two hours the next Nighttime Express would be here. In twenty six hours, I’d be gone.

I’ve been here for one hundred and forty thousand, one hundred and twenty four hours.  And twenty six hours is all I have left.

I know I seem kinda focused on the hours but that’s just how it works here. It seems like all I know is the hours. You know the hours you’ve had, the hours till the next Nighttime Express, and the hours you have left. I have twenty six. Some people have two. Some have two hundred. I have twenty six.

-24-

I wait on the platform in the chill and I hear it. The shrill whistle that heralds the approach of the Nighttime Express, powering closer to the station, closer to me. But not tonight. Tonight my job, as someone with over one hundred thousand hours, is to help take the new ones – the ones with zero or however long they’ve had – off the train safely and give them to the carers so they can look after them so they can get more hours. I don’t like the new ones. They’re small and spoldgy and all they produce are tears and shit and they want all the time. More than they deserve. It seems cruel that the only time you get your wants are when you can’t remember getting anything at all. At least, I don’t remember being cared for like the carers do now. I remember the cold. So did Mike but he was gone four thousand and fifty two hours ago, so I don’t know if he remembers anything anymore.
It wriggles its hands and arms, fat fingers opening and closing over nothing, its mouth a pink hole of noise. A carer comes and relieves me of it and coos at it revoltingly. She moves away and I set about cleaning the carriage. moving the seats so that those with no hours will be comfortable when then go.
Now that Mike’s gone, I don’t talk to the others as I work. Four thousand and fifty two hours ago Mike was my friend. When the Nighttime Express is ready I go back to the platform and help the older hours on and to their seats. In twenty two hours no one will need to show me on. I know the routine. Sit down. Put on and eye mask and wait. Food in one hour. Everything will be OK. That’s what I tell them now and that’s what they believe.

-12-

I open my eyes. It seems like, for my last hours. I should feel different. I don’t. Regret briefly stabs at me when it occurs to me I have just slept for 10 of my last hours but it passes when I realise I had nothing better to do anyway. I had no friends to play with anymore. I supposed I better have my last hours the same as the rest.

-0-

The night is the same as it was before. I stand on the platform in the chill and hear it. The shrill whistle that heralds the approach for the Nighttime Express. Soon I’ll be on it, then I’ll be gone.

The train pulls up to the platform and slides to a halt, steam still belching from the chimney and disappearing into the night. I can hear the new ones on it, screaming and can hear the others on the train, scooping them up, passing them to the carers and preparing the seats for us. There are fourteen others with me. I don’t remember, but I’ve been told that there were more when we arrived as new ones on the Nighttime Express. I don’t want to get back on it.
I’ve been working on the Nighttime Express for forty thousand, one hundred and twenty four hours, and I still don’t know where it goes, where it comes from, and what happens to the people that leave on it. I guess I’ll find out soon.

A wild thrill suddenly grips me. What if I didn’t get on the train? There’s no one guiding me on, no one showing me what to do. The others just assume I know what to do and will look after myself. I could just… wait. What would happen to me, when the train left? I didn’t know, but I didn’t know what would happen to me if I got on either, so I might as well stay here.

I stood there on the edge of the platform, staring at the door and waited. Everyone else was on board and settled in. The helpers and carers had left the platform. It was just me. In a few moments, the train would slide away and I’d still be here.

“Hey, kid. Quit dawdling.”

My head whips around to the speaker, who is obviously talking to me, because I’m the only one left on the platform. A… a someone is leaning out of the window of a nearby carriage and looking at me with a tight, tired face.

“Get on board, already, We gotta get moving.”

I don’t move or speak. I just stared at him. He looks like no one I’ve ever seen before, he looks like he’s had twice the hours I’ve had. His messy dark hair is topped with a blue cap, which was slightly too big for him, and tipped low over his eyes. He wore a dark blue uniform buttoned up to his chin with a double row of tarnished brown metal buttons. His face was just… filled with hours. And while it was obvious he had more hours than me, a lot more, I had the feeling that the hours he had had, he’d really had. He watched me impatiently.

“You listening kiddo? You gotta get on, time to move on out, yeah?”

Where had he come from? I’d never seen anyone else on the train before.

“What the hell’s going on Matt? You still playing?” Another voice issued from the carriage. I nearly jumped. There were more of them?

Matt turned back to face inside. “Kid’s out on the platform he’s not getting on.”

“So deal with it, aren’t you an expert?”

Matt turned back to me with a scowl. “Hurry up already, you can’t stay here.”

The train suddenly let out a shriek and shuddered to life. Matt looked panicked.

“Get on!” he yelled.

Slowly, painfully slowly, it began to slide away. I didn’t move. I watched Matt and the Nighttime Express go, Matt staring at me in distress before ducking back into the window. The end carriage was coming up, about to pass me when I saw the door fling open. Matt hung out, hooking his arm around the rails along the side of the door, intending to grab me and pull me in as he went past. I stumbled back from the edge of the platform as he drew level. His grasp was uselessly a few feet away from me, and then he was past, the Nighttime Express pulling him away and into the night. He twisted around to look back at me, his face twisted in frustration, getting smaller and smaller as he and the Nighttime Express vanished into the dark.

And I was still here. I’d made it, whatever it was. I was still here, and I didn’t need to get on the train, and nothing bad had happened to me. I could have as many hours as I wanted here and get on the Nighttime express when I wanted. Maybe never. I went home.

– -12 –

I woke up starving, I mean, so unbelievably hungry, it felt like I’d never eaten in my life. I sat up, head spinning, feeling like I was going to be sick. I grasped for the glass of water I kept by my bed and took a few desperate gulps, but they didn’t seem to help. I needed food.

I stumbled up, throwing my crumpled clothes from yesterday and made my way to the cafeteria.

People stared at me as I entered and made my way to the waiting food. I ignored them, grabbed a tray and piled it with food. I sat down and ate and ate, but nothing seemed to help. I was still starving and this food wasn’t sating my hunger at all.

I went to work, to continue repairing some chairs, but I worked so slowly, and felt so dizzy, so drained, I gave up after two hours and went back to my room hoping that if I fell asleep, I could forget the hunger. I had no such luck.

– -24 –

I don’t know why, but I found myself on the platform again as the Nighttime Express pulled in to the platform. I wasn’t intending to get on, but I was there. I was curious, I suppose, to see if that Matt was back, and what he had in store for me. Maybe he could tell me where the train goes.

I waited on the platform’s edge as the helpers and carers performed their duties around me. People hadn’t really spoken to me for hours, since Mike left. I suppose I stopped speaking to them, but at least they acknowledged me. Now they avoided me, like I was something to be feared.

When the platform was clear I turned my head to the carriage Matt was in the previous night. There was no sound coming from it. No one popped their head out. I waited, and waited, but the train pulled away and no one spoke to me.

Feeling betrayed, I turned and went home.

– -40 –

The hunger was beyond a joke now. My whole body felt like it was constantly trembling. I was always dizzy and could barely keep my eyes open. I lay in my room all day, drinking water that I couldn’t taste and slipping in and out of sleep.

When the time came for the Nighttime Express I would find Matt and make him tell me what was going on.

– – 48-

This time I waited outside where Matt’s carriage would be. The Nighttime Express slid up next to me and, not bothering to wait until the helpers and carers were gone, I rapped on the window. No one answered. I tried to peer in but the window was too dark and I couldn’t tell if anyone was inside. Frustrated I kept on smacking my hand against the glass, hoping that if someone was inside, at least they’d let me know by telling me to stop it.

Finally, when the platform was empty, the window snapped up. My hand was just about to smack the glass again when another hand shot out and grabbed my wrist.

“Cut that out” Matt growled.

I looked at him in surprise and he sighed, his expression softening.

“Jesus kid, I’m surprised you haven’t keeled over by now. You going to get on this train tonight or what?”

I shook my head and his lip twitched with annoyance. He grunted, let go of my wrist, and disappeared into the carriage, snapping the window shut.

“HEY!” I yelled, smacking the window again. “Get back here, tell me what’s going on!”

“What’s going on, kiddo, is that you don’t belong here anymore.”

I turned to the side. Matt had stepped onto the platform. He was holding a paper bag and looked distinctly uncomfortable. The train shrieked and began to slide away. Matt watched it go, his shoulders hunched over with regret.

“Ahh Jeez. What the hell’s wrong with me.” He glared at me. “I hope you’re happy.”

“Tell me what’s going on.” I was trying my best not to flinch under his glare.

He didn’t answer, just looked at me, and when the train had gone, went and sit on the edge of the platform, legs dangling over the side. That was against the rules, and I was about to tell him so, but he glanced at me out of the corner of his eye with a funny expression and I had a feeling that he was doing it expressly because it was against the rules, and so I could tell him so, and so he could laugh at me. Instead I went and sat down next to him, letting my legs dangle in the air above the tracks. He hid a smile and opened the paper bag that was in his lap. He reached inside and pulled out a steaming hot pie. My stomach tightened and my mouth watered, it smelt good. I was so hungry, I blinked and tried to focus on the pie.

“Mmm mmm,” He said “I bet you are one hungry fella, yeah?”

I watched him as he broke the pie in half. Steam poured out of it. It was filled with meat and gravy and smelt like the best thing in the world. He handed me half of it and I grabbed it and shoved it in my mouth. It was hot, and burnt my tongue, but I could taste it. It was delicious. I tried to chew slowly, to savour the meat, the flavour but before I knew it, It was gone. I licked my lips and wiped my chin, where juice had dribbled down, then licked my fingers. When I was finished I looked over at Matt. He was just popping the last bit of his pie in his mouth and watching me with amusement.

“More?”

He shook his head.

“You mean thanks, yeah? You’re lucky I shared that with you, after all the trouble you’re putting me through.” He leaned back and lay flat against the platform, folding his arm up under his head. “So, kiddo, wanna tell me why you’re so against getting on that train?”

I shrugged and leaned back to copy him.

“I don’t see why I have to, just because everyone else does it.”

Matt grinned.

“Wanna be separate from the crowd, huh? A noble endeavour I guess, expect there are a lot of things ‘everyone’ does. You can’t ignore all of them.”

“Can if I want.”

“Oh really? Everyone eats. You’re doing well at that so far, I guess.”

My stomach, the comedic genius, took that moment to grumble. Matt chuckled and continued.

“Everyone breathes, or do you you want to be different with that too?”

I said nothing. Matt smiled and closed his eyes.

“Everyone grows and everyone gets on the train. It’s just how life works, kiddo.”

“Where does it go?”

“Come on now, I can’t tell you that. That’s the other thing, everyone finds that out for themselves.”

I looked up at the familiar stars hanging about us. I still didn’t want to move.

“I’m scared.” I finally admitted.

“Everyone gets that too.”

I sat up and looked down at him, he winked open an eye to look at me.

“Did you get on the train? Where did you go?”

“Of course I did. Aren’t you listening? Everyone does. If you don’t, you die. You wanna stay here and die, huh?”

“So you don’t just stop.”

“Of course not. You go on to the next part and you do whatever you need to do. It’s just life.”

I considered this for some time. Matt didn’t offer me any more advice or conversation, he just lay next to me, feigning sleep.

I woke up curled in my bed. I didn’t know what the hour was. I didn’t care. I was hungry again. I moaned and tried to sit up. Two strong hands grabbed my shoulder and pulled me up.

“Morning kiddo, want some breakfast?”

I blearily opened my eyes. Matt was sitting on the edge of my bed. He reached into his jacket and pulled out the crumpled paper bag. Inside it was a squashed pastry.

“You had more!”

“I wasn’t going give up all my food at once” Matt tore the pastry in half and chucked me a bit. I grabbed it and bit into it. It was slightly stale but I could still taste it, so it was delicious.

“Now, me, I’m getting on the Nighttime Express tonight, for the second time no less. Will you be joining me?”

I shrugged. “Maybe.”

Matt sighed and stood up. “Whatever, kiddo, I tried.”

—-

I went with Matt to the station and stood next to him at the platform as the Nighttime Express pulled in. The carers and helpers worked around us, avoiding us and giving Matt strange, fearful looks. If he noticed, he didn’t care, just whistled softly to himself and looked at the stars.

When the platform was empty the window to Matt’s carriage opened and someone popped their head out. This was was a girl, she looked like she had the same hours as Matt and had long, dark hair. He face was pinched with anger.

“What the hell did you think you where playing at Matthew? You have a death wish or something?”

Matt grinned and her and waved cheerily.

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

The girl just huffed and rolled her eyes before ducking back in and slamming the window shut.

Matt turned to me, looking serious.

“Alright, kiddo. Do or die. What’ll it be?”

“My name’s not ‘kiddo’”

A flicker of amusement passed over Matt’s face, then was squashed by seriousness.

“Well, really? What would it be then?”

He was making fun of me. I didn’t care.

“It’s Adam.”

“Well, Adam, would you like to hop on board?” he gestured showily to the door and dipped his head a bit, still mocking me.

I bit back a grin. The hell with it, I wanted to see the sort of hours this guy had. Or even better, make my own.

I stepped on the train.

a deep breath

Image

Writer’s block, am I right?

I’ve been stuck on a story I’ve been writing for about four years now. Words aren’t coming. Ideas are rubbish. All I can see are the plot holes and the flat prose and the everything awful about it. I sit down to start and end up re-reading what I’ve written when I need to focus on the bigger picture, no – the ending, no – I need to delete it all and start again. I need to fix this character or that plot point or change the event and…
I can’t stay in this spiral. It’s paralysing. And, as a result, I’m not writing anything.

I need to fix that.

So an experiment. I’ll use this to write shorts. Each week I’ll write one. My mind will be engaged until I can build up enough stamina to creep up on my creativity again, ninja like, and pounce.

Hopefully it’ll take me somewhere over this wall. Hopefully, my discipline won’t fail me. We’ll see how this goes.

block

brain why are you quiet
there’s a universe of words
stuck somewhere in you

Aside