Monthly Archives: February 2016

Under Pressure

I haven’t blogged since after Thanksgiving. Over two months ago.

Scary stuff for a new author trying to build an audience and build rapport with her readers and fans.

Along with many other events of the past months, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey and the inimitable David Bowie have all died. Incredible artists without whom the world is less vibrant. One of my favorite Bowie/Queen songs is “Under Pressure.” It pops into my brain under many circumstances, good and bad. As I pondered ideas for this post, I found myself thinking of the song and the pressure of life, the pressure of writing.

Bowie

I haven’t the foggiest idea how Mr. Bowie sorted himself when he wrote songs. And I wish I had a magic formula to keep me writing well. If only. But when the pressure builds, I remind myself of the “marathon-not-a-sprint” adage, that my writing business and I are a continual work in progress. Then I plop myself in front of my laptop again.

Pressures come from every direction.

December turned into a chaotic month, the likes of which I’d previously not experienced. I won’t even go into that stress here. Haha. In January my husband and I flew to Europe to visit his family. It was an incredible, beautiful and very busy few weeks. Between jet lag, the introduction to my in-laws and daily travel, I didn’t write much.

Now that we’re home, we’re full-swing into our renovations again. I’m so glad for the progress, but as a work-from-home freelancer and author, I have to say nail guns, drywall sanders and power saws don’t have the best influence on my productivity.

Excuses, excuses. We all got ‘em.

Pressure is part of our lives, and it can be a good thing in moderation.

With the stressors of the past months I haven’t felt super-inspired, and my writing has been less than prolific. Not to mention blogging … that’s been completely MIA until now. Eeks!

But there is one professional pressure I’m glad for: my weekly writers critique group. We have simple rules: email your pages by Tuesday noon for at-home critiques and meet Thursday one o’clock for in-person reading and discussion. Pretty basic. Very effective.

Last week a creative cold front moved in. My obligation to the group weighed, and the strain of not knowing what to write grew. So I took a cue from friends who’ve been writing flash fiction, needing to borrow their brilliance. (Click here for info on flash fiction; snippets of fabulousness.)

Being accountable to this critique group motivates me. Though it’s a source of anxiety, it’s also a repository of constructive feedback and inspiration. It kindles the writer’s mindset. And the positive response to the piece I wrote, “Why Not,” was a huge balm to my beleaguered writer’s brain. Check it out here, it’s a short read.

People always ask writers how they come up with ideas. The specific answer is different for everyone, but the basic holds true: we find ideas everywhere and in the silliest, strangest or scariest ways.

In the case of “Why Not,” I chose the genre after deciding on the story framework (thanks Lori and Frank). I’d heard Adele’s song “Hello” on the radio countless times, and one of the lines stuck. The song played right before I sat to wrack my brain for last week’s submission, so I parlayed one of the lines into my deviant little short. I doubt my story is what Adele had in mind, but that’s the fun of creativity.

With the story and the blog both done now, I’d like to say the writing pressure is off for the moment. But that’s a big fat lie. Both the need and the desire to write loom constantly, lingering in my brain. Regardless of how good or bad the words first come out, the pressure is always on.

Wish me luck this week, and I’ll do the same for you. ; ) And use the comment section to let me know what work pressures you face and how you deal. What tidbits help you hurdle the obstacles? Thanks for sharing.

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