Do or Do Not.

Operation: Defunkify

with 4 comments

One of my heroes inspires me by taking inspiration from another one of my heroes:

“I think Stephen King said some great things in On Writing — the main bit that I took away from that is the idea that you really have to sit down and do it. Treat it like work, spend a few hours TRYING to write every day. Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will be bad, but there will be a lot of it. And really, it’s not the creating that’s the hard part, it’s the decision to sit down at your desk and start working.” — Jonathan Coulton, interviewed on, April 17, 2007

And another one of my heroes uses a quote from yet another to slam home a similar point:

“Yes, this is a form e-mail. Because I get asked this question a lot: ‘How do I become a comedian?’ The answer is very simple. It’s so simple, that no one can ever accept that it’s the ONLY WAY. But rest assured, the lucky few who understand how simple it is, and go and do this simple thing, ALWAYS succeed: Go onstage a lot. Go onstage as much as you can. Don’t read books on comedy. Don’t take comedy classes. Don’t ask anyone how you should write material, or what they think of your material. Develop on your own. Go onstage. A lot. Every night. If there isn’t an open mike in your town, start one. And then go onstage. A lot. That’s it.” — Patton Oswalt, quoted by Warren Ellis, May 9, 2007

I’ve been bad lately. Pathetic, more like. I admit it. I haven’t had the mental energy to sit down and start working — or more likely I haven’t made the mental energy to do so. Not only have I not written anything here on the blog, I haven’t written anything at all. It’s an ugly, demoralizing circle I’ve found myself in: I’ve been in something of a funk and not writing, and not writing has driven me into even more of a funk.

Well, now it’s time bust that loop and kick off Operation: Defunkify.

It’s time to rediscover exactly what it is I’m wanting to do and refocus my energies in that direction. I know that part of what brings on my funk is losing my way, and even when I was writing before the funk came on, I could feel that way-losing happening. It’s time to do get out the map and do some course correction.

I can’t promise the results will show here on a daily basis, but they might. But if any of you have any additional inspirational bits of wisdom, I’d be all about hearing them. Bring ‘em on.

And wish me luck.

Written by Allen

May 10th, 2007 at 10:01 am

Posted in General,Writing

4 Responses to 'Operation: Defunkify'

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  1. I can’t argue with that advice. If you want to be a writer, learn what it takes to write stuff every day. Learn what your internal obstacles are and how to overcome them every day. And write stuff. Lots of stuff. Even when you don’t feel like it. Particularly when you don’t feel like it. Over time, and with feedback, you’ll learn how to write good stuff more consistently, how to write to a certain length, within a certain style, etc. But the biggest bit is learning how to write stuff (any stuff, really) every day. It’s a craft. If you want to learn to make fine furniture, work with wood every day. If you want to learn to write good stuff, write stuff every day.

    I have a gig right now where, for it to work out long term, I need to write six or seven articles a week, every week. I’ve been working up to it. Last week I wrote three. This week I’ve written five so far, and I’ll probably be able to do one more. I don’t feel like doing it today. I can think of a zillion things I’d rather do today. But it needs to be done, and today is the time I have to do it, so I’ll get it done.


    10 May 07 at 10:09 am

  2. Welcome to my world… now leave. Go back to Writingallthetimeville where you belong.

    xoxo Timmy

    Timmy B.

    10 May 07 at 3:07 pm

  3. First of all, good luck. ;)

    Completely agree w/that first quote. If writing is my work, then I have to do it even on days I don’t want to, just like in a “real” job. Here’s what else helps me:

    –Allow yourself to write intro sentences that suck. Portions of my book started with “And here’s the section where I’m going to talk about ______” Often that was enough to get the words flowing b/c it put the pressure of a good opening behind me. Usually, by the time I got to the end of that section I’d figure out how to go back to fix it.

    –Give yourself time off. I dedicate a certain chunk of time to writing but only Monday through Friday, just like a 9 to5 job. Usually I end up writing on the weekends anyway, but I don’t HAVE to, and that makes a big difference.

    –Make sure you’re writing want you really want to write. I think your idea to “rediscover” and “refocus” is a good one. For years, I worked on the wrong book, ignoring the other idea percolating in the front of my brain. I didn’t think that idea was good enough, interesting enough, or creative enough. When I finally gave in, pushed the original work aside and started on the new idea, the words came so quickly. It’s what I wanted to write all along, so of course it DID end up good enough and interesting enough. More importantly, it’s DONE and about 1/4 edited already. On the phone the other day, Mark put it best: Sometimes you have to get out of your own way.

    On practical note, the girls’ getting older helped tremendously.


    11 May 07 at 11:59 am

  4. John: Yeah, it’s that “learning to overcome internal obstacles” thing that still trips me up. I know that part of what I need to do is to get better about setting internal goals and deadlines and making them mean something. Right now, I have nothing hanging over my head making me right, so it’s too easy for me to blow it off if I’m not feeling up to it. Gotta fix that.

    Timmy B: Workin’ on it. :)

    Amy: Each and every one of your points is directly applicable to me. I know I have to give myself the freedom to suck, yet I still strive for perfect first drafts. I know that as much as I need to schedule time to write, I need to schedule time not to write, too, without beating myself up about it. And your last paragraph… well, I could write an entire post on that last paragraph alone. And hey, maybe I will, since at least it’d be writing something. :)


    11 May 07 at 4:54 pm

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