Since When Did Writing Get So Hard?

For the life of me, I can barely write my name lately, let alone an outline or a scene.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Oh, yeah, I’m a parent now.  Of course, who’d want to write when presented the chance to spend the evening playing with this little cutie instead: 

Somebody needs to market an adult-sized monkey rug, incidentally.

ANYWAY… so yeah, I’m feeling more than a little distracted lately.  I don’t think it’s just the kid, either.  Despite my best efforts, my attempt to rewrite the High School Comedy has ground to a dismal halt.  Just not feeling it.  So I’ve switched to another one of the scripts I banged out before the Peanut’s arrival — the Domestic Comedy.

Yeah, that one ain’t catching fire, either.

What to do?  I’m well aware that this is one of those situations that separates the men from the boys — you either resist the pull of real life and stay the course, or you drift away and eventually realize that weeks, months, maybe years have gone by and you’ve only written a page of your script or novel since that fateful night you said to yourself, “Eh, I’ll take tonight off and come back to it fresh tomorrow.”  (This scenario is very similar to a somewhat prescient subplot in the Domestic Comedy.  Life is apparently threatening to imitate my mediocre art.)

In my defense, I’ve been working every night, even if it’s for a few minutes while the baby snoozes.  Progress is being made, even if you can only track it with the assistance of a sub-atomic microscrope.  But I just can’t crack either script — I think I understand what’s wrong with both stories, but the solutions aren’t coming.  I suspect the issue is one of focus — or rather, the lack thereof.  The Missus’ sister is coming to town this weekend, though, so that should give me the chance to slip away for some serious solitude.  Hopefully.

I can only hope that the Peanut doesn’t give me a look like this…


… ’cause if she does, you can kiss that writing time goodbye. On the other hand, that’s the way it should be.  I’d like to think that that may make me a bad writer but a good dad.  That sounds like a fair trade in my book.

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7 Comments on “Since When Did Writing Get So Hard?”

  1. Let me be the first to say, AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW….

    I can relate to going back to those first drafts and finding that they haven’t just cooled…they’ve gone stale. I think what happens sometimes is that after you fight the good fight and struggle and finally manage to rewrite and polish a screenplay, a natural consequence of that is that you GROW as a writer. You probably don’t realize it. But when you take a look back at your previous work suddenly it doesn’t hold the same fascination for you that it once did.

    Then again, I could just be projecting. After writing my Animal Story for a year, I found myself craving stories with strong emotional through-lines and little bit more depth to the characters than I used to write. Which is probably a good thing, but it made my inventory seem a little lacking.

    And of course, new stuff always seems more exciting than old stuff.

    Then again, maybe you just need to get PAID for it to be motivated!

  2. William Says:

    WD — Welcome to your new world. She is a cutie so even though your efforts are going untapped you still have her to come home to but this is where it gets tricky.

    The mind is a tough nut to crack. It sucks when it’s not coming especially now when you really need it to because you have a smaller window. You have to figure out how your mind works within these new boundaries. This might take some time but you’ll find it. I took a train ride to Brooklyn yesterday to change up my surroundings and get out of the apartment and I locked up too. I did the same thing two weeks ago and the words flowed. Who knows? The comfort I feel is that it was nothing like it was four months ago. I was brain dead. Literally. I mean, I didn’t know what sound the letter V made. I, like you, am getting inspiration at the hour of the wolf and just writing down what I can when I can. It gets better or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

    My two day a week break is ending in about seven weeks and then I’ll become a frothing, stressed-out barn yard animal taking care of the boy five days a week along with being family man on the weekends. Holidays will be here. Then we start the big upheaval to move the family to Brooklyn in March. Once you make peace with the thought that there will ALWAYS be something that will keep you from writing you’ll be better at handling these setbacks.

    Dave — You’re right on with growing. I finished a first draft of a new screenplay before the boy was born and now as much as I like the story, I haven’t touched it. I’m currently outlining two projects at once. One I will push hard to get it into a finely tuned state and try to get it out there into the market. The other a smaller, more independent project that is based on a short I made a few years back. Fighting the temptation to start a newer, cooler project has always been a problem of mine. All that really is is me avoiding the work.

    And yeah, getting paid wouldn’t hurt.

  3. WriterDad Says:

    Thanks, guys! I’ve definitely written scripts that died after I finished the first draft, their purpose having been served, but I think the two scripts I’m tinkering with now don’t fall into this category. They definitely have potential, but for whatever reason I’m having trouble getting to that next level — in a weird way, I really miss not having a deadline similar to the recent Wedding Comedy rewrite. It sort of underscores the Missus’ observation that I didn’t have time to agonize, so I just made choices and stuck with them. Now I have nothing BUT time to agonize…

    Weirdly enough (and unlike my past experiences with writer’s block, or whatever you want to call it), I DON’T have any new ideas distracting me from the task at hand. My mind is a total blank, which I find a bit disconcerting. Maybe I really do need to let the well refill.

    William — so you’re making the plunge to full-time dadhood, huh? I used to fantasize about that until I realized how tough it is taking care of my little girl on my own for a few hours after work, let alone all day. Good luck with that and the move!

  4. So…then basically…you’re a whiny bitch. Shut up and write.

    (still projecting…)

  5. WriterDad Says:

    Yeah, you pretty much nailed it.

  6. William Says:

    Temporarily full-time. In December the day care service that we’re using through Linda’s employer ends. Then we get twenty days next year starting in January. We don’t want to blow them out January through March because it’s really meant to be used as back up or emergency.

    It’s definitely going to be a little hectic until we get settled into our new place. Once there we’ll look into day care in Brooklyn and hopefully I’ll have a writing room in our apartment. We just have to tough it out until then. Linda’s mother is also helping us by watching the boy when she can.

    Once I get a solid outline together on both projects I can move ahead. I think the pre-writing can be the most challenging because you really want to hammer out the idea enough so you’re not floundering on the first draft. Took me a while to figure that one out.

  7. WriterDad Says:

    William — man, I can’t imagine moving with a baby in the house. We wanted to move to our new, bigger apartment before our kid was born specifically because of that reason; hopefully by the time we’re ready to move elsewhere, the Peanut will be a little older and easier to deal with during the chaos.

    We have a guest bedroom that doubles as my office — it’s the first time I’ve ever had a room (usually) to myself like that to write in, and it’s pretty awesome.

    As for pre-writing — I’m definitely with you on that one. My mistake with the Domestic Comedy was that my outline was too loose, which led to the problems I’m wrestling with now. The sad thing is, I learned that lesson years ago and I STILL let myself get into this situation this time around.

    Anyway, good luck with the move and the day care situation!

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