1. State the Problem:
I’ve had pretty severe writer’s block for a couple of months. The timing happens to be ironic, as the past month has found me with more free time than I would normally have, which should translate into more time to write. Time was always my (ever so lame) excuse before, and now that I no longer have that to fall back on, I needed to figure out what the hell was actually wrong with me.
My goal has been to finish the first draft, and ago on to create a second draft, of The Storm and the Darkness before the end of March, but at the rate I’ve been writing, its going to be March 2024 before it gets finished. So….
2. Form a Hypothesis:
People who have known me awhile can vouch for this, but I’ve always been something of an overachiever. I was always the first one to finish an assignment in class, and when a project was given to me, I would do extra stuff (sparkles! explosions!) just because I could. I was the kid who needed to know exactly how many pieces of vegetables on my plate that you needed me to eat, and if the answer was 10 I’ll eat 12, but dammit I won’t eat any if I don’t know what you want from me.
I might half-ass the dishes, but that term paper is going to shine.
This half-useful, somewhat unflattering trait has been the engine behind my writing for years. It’s probably been the only reason I can finish the grueling 50,000 words in 30 day NaNoWriMo assignment each year. Hell, I usually finish a whole week early (you know, overachieving and whatnot). This has nothing to do with being smart (although, I’d like to think I am). It has everything to do with this obnoxious, childish desire to “one up” everything: sometimes, to show off (hey, look how awesome I am compared to the rest of you! Go ahead, bask in it!), or sometimes, when facing a deadline, to buy myself some breathing room and hopefully reduce the stress of sliding into finish with a “hail mary” move at the eleventh hour. Yes, I am that shameless asshole of your youth who had nothing better to do than make everyone else look bad. Sorry.
Hey- wait a second…where is this overachiever when I have writer’s block?
And then, it occurred to me. For an overachiever to…well…overachieve, they must have a goal. There has to be a target, an end, and a means of achieving, and then passing, said target. Suddenly, it was all astonishingly simple: If I wanted to finish writing my book, I needed to set clear goals, like I did during NaNoWriMo, and then work to not just achieve but annihilate the goals into the ground. It might not look good, hell it might even be so ugly even the dog won’t play with it, but the words would be on the paper because failure is not an option.
And, that’s what editing is for, right?
3. Perform Experiment:
So, using NaNoWriMo as a guideline, I set a goal for myself: I figured I needed about 50k more words in my novel (currently sitting at 50k) which is 1667 words/day over 30 days. I made a spreadsheet (because, an OCD overachiever like myself must track everything into oblivion), and started the timer.
4. Analyze Data:
I’ve been writing now for three days, and, as expected, I’ve crushed my daily goal of 1667.
Here’s what I have so far:
Of course my spreadsheet is also set to track progress and pace to goal, so it tells me that I on the 22nd I actually was 278% to my daily goal, and that, at day 4, I am 22% to my overall goal of 50k (if I was right “at” goal I’d be at 13%). Bam!
IN YO FACE WRITER’S BLOCK!
5. Draw Conclusion:
So, yeah. Hypothesis proved. Apparently all I had to do was insult my inner overachiever (she really is a sensitive little turd) and suddenly I am writing again. Foolproof junk science wins again. Booyah!