Writing When Your Brain is Oatmeal
In case it’s not apparent, I didn’t grow up with social media. Trying to sort out it’s nuances in a just few days turned my brain into a giant bowl of oatmeal. And not the good kind with loads of butter and sugar or even the healthier kind with nuts and fruit, but the plain kind. The kind you get in a hospital that congeals and turns into a blob. Yuck! But I promised myself I’d be in a better position to market my novel when it’s finished. So, I persevered. Hence the oatmeal brain. Usually, the storyline for a particular work swirls and dances around in my head. But now it’s buried so far under the blob of oatmeal, I’m struggling to find it.
Oh, what to do?
Most of the books written about writing say “Don’t give into thoughts about writer’s block. Just write.” Fine. But there are no words. I don’t know what Callie is going to do next. I know what she’s going to do a few chapters from now. But I don’t know how to get her there. I need a lot more words if this is to be a novel. Maybe if I call this “a revising or editing day”, I can get back on track.
Revising Editing or Whatever!!!
Slowly, painfully, I go back to page one. I read each line out loud---to myself. I’ve done this so many times already. Over a three-day period, I remove approximately 500 words. Adding only 70 new words. I fight down a moment of panic, but my brain feels a bit more responsive. My confidence still lags. Maybe this should be a series of short stories? Maybe tracking my word count isn’t such a good idea. No, stick to the plan. I tell myself. Finally, on day four, I’m making more substantial changes. I make my daily word count, and more importantly, I know where Callie is going and how she will get through the next few chapters. Thank heaven for a responsive brain that is no longer a lump of oatmeal!
So many final thoughts here. When working with a new media form, don’t try to do it all in a day or even two, else you could develop oatmeal brain. Even though revising/editing sometimes removes words, it usually makes your work better. If you think you can use a passage later or you’re just in love with it, save it in another file. You can always copy paste it back into your story. Reading your work out loud, even to yourself, makes you pause and actually realize how the words come together to tell the story. It helps you pick up your storyline and carry on with it. I still like word count goals. They're not for everyone, but I’m more motivated and focused when I have a clear-cut goal. Mostly, just keep writing.