Compensation: How hard is too hard

It’s two minutes past ten o’clock as I begin this post. I am in the modest company of mosquitoes and my neighbor’s endless chatter coupled with dogs barking, a donkey braying somewhere…(yes, there are donkeys here) and the never ending desire for a cold shower.

I started writing a few lines of my book and stopped. So, I took to reading right after my morning work meeting and by lunch time I’d read these three books:

We Own the Sky (The Muse Chronicles #1) Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (The Muse Chronicles, #2)

It doesn’t help that a part of me feels compelled to actually sit down and finish writing the book I’ve been working on since last year. Every time I say to myself that I’ll get some work done, I barely make it past a sentence and I’m constantly reading more books by other authors than working on mine.

As I was getting a cup of coffee tonight, my mind went to the thought of overcompensation and I couldn’t help but ask am I overcompensating? Am I reading more books now to cover up for the fact that I am unable to advance my manuscript? If so, what am I doing and why is it taking me this long to make headway in my writing? Why this particular book?

See, In psychology, compensation is referred to as a strategy whereby one covers up, consciously or unconsciously, weaknesses, frustrations, desires, or feelings of inadequacy or incompetence in one life area through the gratification or (drive towards) excellence in another area. [ Got that simple description here]

It doesn’t help that the first two books I read were about Muses and the last one about a former MMA fighter with ADHD.

Since then I have been asking myself am I trying to hard or not? If so, how hard is too hard?

I’ve taken walks, evening strolls to be precise and switched up my playlist and even sat down in different locations to try and make some headway with this manuscript but nothing’s making sense at the moment. My frustration hasn’t started showing and my concern lies in the fact that if it does, it’d make me one cranky team member at work and that could potentially affect my work, so I am at odds with this feeling of stagnation.

The worst part is that my Mentor advised that  shelve it and then come to it later on when I want, but I am not willing to do that. I’d get snippets of ideas at work or while walking to work and jot it all down, but when I power up my laptop and click ‘open’ on the book, then it all disappears, like it was never there in the first place!

So, my question still lingers at the back of my mind, am I trying too hard with this? If so, how hard is too hard?

 

Keeping it Short

It’s been one of those weeks spent on the road. I’m anticipating another two weeks on the road, but so far, what’s suffered most is my writing. I can make my daily journal entries but anything to do with creating short stories or generating new ideas becomes difficult when all you do is talk about counseling and pyscho-social programs.

It made me question, “how can you get some writing done when you cannot seem to get time for it?”

The first answer that came to mind was accompanied by my Mentor’s voice and it was “You are a Writer, make time!” The other that came included a few tips:

  • always carry around a notebook. Jot down any ideas that come to mind, they could be of inspiration later.
  • If you cannot stay away from your phone, install a note taking app. Thank me later.
  • Try and make time, even if it is thirty minutes when you wake up or a few minutes during work breaks. Jog your mind of the importance of writing and see where that goes.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. 

So, I spent four days at this awesome hotel and I loved their color scheme so much and their paintings that I had to share a few pictures.

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loved the color of the curtains 🙂
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I guess, silver+brown+white are their go  colors.
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Loved this, it was right outside my room.

What are your plans this weekend?

I’ve got an idea, how about reading a free 5-page magazine? Just two short stories 🙂

The third issue of Nilichoandika Magazine is all about keeping it short and I’m so glad that I get to share two beautiful stories by amazing Writers. Get a copy here (Nilichoandika (3))- or on the left sidebar on this blog’s homepage.

Enjoy your weekend as I’m off to Kuria, who knows, I might just visit a place or two in Sirare while at it.

The lazy writer’s take on how to tell if an idea has run its course

I’m in trouble.

Well, it’s not the kind that warrants a search team, but it goes beyond what anyone could imagine. My story idea has run its course. You know the way you sit on that matatu and start talking to a stranger and then after the fare, the traffic, the music, the bore of city life- you run out of stories and small talk suddenly comes to an end with plugged in earphones? Well, something like that, but I am a Writer, I am never short of ideas, right? WRONG.

Okay, I did not mean to defy grammar back there, but you know sometimes writing in Caps is like venting all that anger on a screen? Man, I love CAPS. So, where was I, yes, the lazy writer’s guide on how to know an idea has run it’s course.

My Mentor has not received any drafts from me in four months and his text this morning read: You are becoming a lazy Writer. Send me a manuscript, a poem, anything, just write it! I thought:

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Writers have lots of ideas and once you have published a book, the question everyone asks is ‘when is the next book coming out?’ You know, like it is locked in your house and one day it will be free to roam the world. But, some ideas are just that, ideas, and when it comes to plots, most stories never make it to the finished book. There is a reason we have texts, blog posts, articles, pamphlets, novellas, and then novels.

So,how do you tell that an idea has run its course or that story you are working on will never go far?

Here’s what this lady thinks:

  1. You can’t write anything else. You have gotten to the point where you cannot find the words to continue the story.
  2. You wake up and do other stuff and only come to write when you feel like it. You cannot seem to force yourself to get the words out.
  3. You cannot help the frustration. When you start to feel as though you could strangle the words you have written for causing you so much misery- abort the mission. Earth to Writer, abort! Abort! Your imagination is far more important than your stress levels!
  4. The characters are the same. There is no change on them or the cause they are fighting for. If you have ten typed pages and nothing changes in the characters, please set it aside.

If you look closely you will notice two things with what I have shared: frustration and being stuck. Those two do not have mercy on writing and more so the writer.

So, what do you do when it seems like the story was so great in your head but in paper it’s ashes?

  1. Set it aside.
  2. Do not, and for the sake of the life of words, do not trash what you have written. Back up everything you have written, however awful, it might just make it into your next book or story.
  3. Go out, watch a movie, sing along to a song on the radio, take awkward selfies, read a book. There’s more to life outside your mind.

And then when you are ready, you can come back to it or move on to the next idea that comes, but if there’s one thing I have learned it’s that having a folder of story ideas, always comes in handy when an idea fizzles out.