When Your Writing Bores You

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Last week was a crazy week and I wasn't able blog as much
as I wanted to. My husband and I closed on a house—our first!—and so things
were a bit hectic. It’s a great time, but a busy time—buying a house, finishing
a graduate degree, and more… It’s funny, though, how it seems that my writing
always grounds me, always brings me back to center. Even talking about writing
can calm me down, bring me some perspective. It’s a great distraction—the best
distraction.

A couple days ago I had a long talk with a writer friend. We
were talking about that inevitable thing that can happen: you get tired of your
story. I’ve talked about this before: the putting the story down, taking space from it… I
know I need time away from certain stories in order to see and think more
clearly about them. My friend was saying how sometimes he just needs a quick
nap, a half hour away from his story, and other times he needs days or weeks or
months. I think it’s important, too, to engage in other activities, especially
creative ones, while on these “breaks.” Even if it means watching a television
show. Sometimes mindless entertainment is the best cure.

Okay, so we need time away. Sometimes we need it because we’re
stuck. And sometimes we need it ‘cause we’re sick of the story or just plain
bored by it. “I can’t look at these words anymore,” another writer friend said
to me. “They’re boring me to tears.” Who’d think we’d be bored by our own
writing? It happens a lot. A Writer’s Book of Days (one of my
favorite writing books) suggests boredom happens for these reasons:

1.We get lazy.

2.We keep treading the same territory.

3.We hold back.

4.We play it safe.

5.We get too comfortable.

I think it’s important to recognize these “symptoms” before
getting to the pull-your-hair-out stage. Because, yes, sometimes a break is all
we need. A break and some perspective. If a break doesn’t help, A Writer’s Book also recommends these antidotes for the above symptoms:

1.
LAZY: “Play
word games, experiment with language, and audition words. Use the thesaurus, appropriate a set of paint
chips from Home Depot and study the names of colors, take sensory inventories,
practice dialogue, eavesdrop on conversations…”

2.
SAME
TERRITORY:
“Free-write using the writing practice prompts, writing
only new material for the next month. No rewriting or editing allowed!”

3.
HOLDING
BACK:
“Ask exactly what it was that made something terrible? In what
ways was it difficult? What did the pain feel like? Use concrete details and
specific images. Use words that describe the terrible, difficult, painful.
Write through the cliché…find fresh images.”

4.
PLAYING
IT SAFE:
“Don’t waste time writing anything you don’t care about.
Crank up the heat, put some obstacles in the way of your characters.”

5.
TOO
COMFORTABLE
: “Change the time and place of the daily
writing practice. Raise the bar to more pages a day. Switch genres, try
something new. No risks= boring writing.”

Here’s to crushing boredom and to risky writing!

“To be
a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal, but you have to care.”

-Anne
Lamott

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