Ruminations · Writing

When You Can’t See The Words For The Letters or Adventures With The Demon of Self Doubt or Wordsalad

demon-161049_960_720Verily one has been thinking about writing again.

Part of this blogging again is an attempt to recapture the flow or words I had when I wrote The Spiral Tattoo. So today’s blog post, written on the train, is a an attempt to write-through some issues.

The Demon of Self Doubt is a difficult foe, so maybe if I put some down I can defeat him. So.

Word counts; are they useful tools for writing or the Demon? Maybe both. When I’m on a flow I can write nearly 1000 words an hour. The Demon tells me when I don’t do that I am failing. Setting myself word count targets hasn’t worked well yet either. I then of course get lost in my head over numbers – 3 hours a day commuting should be around 3000 words a day writing which is 15,000 words a week, which is over 600,000 words a year or 6 novels. All of which the Demon says you’re not writing.

So yep, the Demon he does nag at me over words. All the words I should have written. šŸ˜¦

Should have. Because the Demon just has to tell me all the negative things that flow in the head. You’re not that good at writing. Your stories bite. You suck. Blah blah blah.

I do find it easy to come up with broad story ideas. I’m just at the moment not very good at following them through and writing them. I get stuck trying to figure out what to write for the details. The Demon with his negative voice is very persuasive.

Intellectually I know what I should be doing. Reframing my inner voice to tell positive stories about myself, but that is very difficult. See the Demon sneaking in there.

Now when I open up my wee device to write I get a tension behind the eyes and an urge to turn it off, or play a game, anything but stare at a blank page that shows me my failure.

Even now when I am writing this on the train and contemplating writing fiction there is an anxious clammy feeling in the chest. And the Demon whispers but what will you write, you don’t know do you. Which of the dozens story outlines you have started will you work on. You don’t know do you.

Fecking Demon.

What is that Demon stopping me from writing then?

Aside: note I am attempting to write this post for the entire trip. If I have the tool open and write a long post, mayhap this will help retrain myself.

So I need to write-through the discomfit of writing next to someone sitting on the train next to me. And the Demon’s voice.

As another aside the public wrestling with the Demon is an interesting exercise. I don’t want anybody to read what I am writing as I write it.

Where was I? O story outlines. So current works in progress that aren’t in progress.

First up there is a third Fursk and Gurt. See I have actually managed to write two novel length stories. I can do it. I did it twice I can do it again. There are people who are asking for the third Fursk and Gurt including Kylie. It’s nice to have people say they like what you have written even if the Demon whispers don’t believe them.

The third Fursk and Gurt will be more physiological thriller when it’s written than straight mystery. I have a rough plot line and a title and characters but Gurts voice has been drowned recently.

Next up there is a comfy murder mystery set in small town NZ featuring the owner of a movie theatre. I have written a start and have a plot line.

There is also a pure fantasy about a land that has fallen into Dark Ages and the main Character forges a kingdom. Civilisation man. šŸ™‚

I have a diverse YA story about a village where reality means all childrenĀ until puberty can change their bodies including gender but at puberty must fix their body forever.

Also a diverse sci/fi crime set on the moon – plot line is very hazy on that one though I do have a strong character image. The lead protagonist is a middle-aged psychic cop who can re-live the final hours of a dead persons life. She is lesbian. The Demon tells me, being cis het male, to not write that one.

There is also the idea of an diverse urban fantasy set in Wellington. The main character is a Transgender woman cop. There is an intersection between Maori mythology and European mythology when a Vampire from Italy descends on Wellington.

I like to play with non-human characters so I did start to work on a Fursk and Gurt story where they were in modern-day Wellington, so a second urban fantasy.

Huh, I just remembered the story arc set in the Asteroid belt. This was more an idea for a TV series than a novel, although I thought writing the novel would be a good idea. Think western on the belt.

The other sci/fi fantasy I had was to writeĀ elves in space. I had images of wooden sailing ship flying between the moons. Powered by large stones that were mined in the Asteroid belt. I have about seven or eight different story starts for this one including one about a Gargoyle that lives in an orbital city.

One of the more recent ideas, that hasn’t got passed the frontal lobes, was to write a story featuring that new system TrappistĀ with itsĀ worlds in the Goldilocks zone that NASA recently unveiled.


Most of the above have at least a thousand words written on them.

As an aside the train just left the tunnel under the Rimutaka’s and we stopped at Maymorn. I’m going to be curious to see what the word count is on this.

So carrying on, the Demon is telling me to stop. But don’t I want to put this aside until after Petone. So dear reader if you have got this far the last part of this blog might ramble a bit as I seek to meet an objective.

Writing those plot points again I can still strongly see elements of them. I want to finish them for people to read but I don’t know which one to write and how to proceed.

Do I write a complete story plan? That hasn’t been overly successful in the past.

When I wrote The Spiral Tattoo it was very organic. It started as a short story which I wrote in one evening. 5000 words one Friday night. I passed it to Kylie to read and she said that’s great but it feels a bit rushed at the end. Maybe you should turn that into a novel. I said ok and went and did that.

The Oaks Grove was a more planned book and I feel less successful. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do and three-quarters of it worked, but to be honest the ending bites. I intend to rewrite the ending next year when it comes of contract with the publishers. I also need to re-edit The Spiral Tattoo. That is off contract but I’m not doing anything with it until I have both books back.

My mode at the moment is to think of a broad plot line, discover a character, write a thousand words, and then The Demon comes a knocking and so I put it aside and then don’t do anything until the next story arc comes to play.

Upper Hutt – it’s still dark.

So organic isn’t working, neither has planned. But I think I need to do planned. I am thinking of a plan for the next week. I think I should organise as many of the story seeds as possible and then spend a commute writing a plot outline. Seeing if I can formulate characters and scene ideas. It might take more than one commute for each one but if I do that then you won’t have to sit through a stream of conscious effort to write for ninety minutes and I will feel like I have achieved something.

It’s interesting as my screen is filling with words and that feels good. The Demon howls but I am feeling like I am getting the better of him this morning.

Another aside: editing as many of you may know I struggle with dyslexia. Or I was given that diagnosis as a young fellow. My spelling is atrocious at times, and my grammar appalling. Which is not great for an aspiring writer. But I am getting better at self editing and picking these things up. This post will need a fair bit of cleaning up when I post it.

One of the things my mind does is when I read something I have written I read what I think I wrote rather than what I did write. So as I edit I read words into sentences that for whatever reason didn’t manage to make their way from the brain via the fingers to the screen. So this is a bit of a mess at the moment.

Back to planning. I shall plan a number of stories, and then start work on one while I commute. I have Scrivener which is a great writing tool and will use that for the writing. I am currently writing this in notepad.

Once I have all of the stories planned I shall start writing one of them. I will write each commute and whenever that little old Demon of Self Doubt comes knocking I will work through that anxiety.

I also want to keep blogging, but I want to start really concentrating on writing fiction during the commute. So I will find a time during the day to write a blog post. I think this is doable.

I want to write something like “if I knuckle down” but that “if” is negative framing. So I am going to eliminate that from my blogging. I am taking a positive approach to my internal dialogue and will only commit active and assertive phrases in the blog. I believe this is retraining the mind.

Yes the Demon nags at the back of the mind telling me negative things. But by committing only positive messages, self affirmations, I will train myself to ignore that. Did you see what I did there. Go me.

The train has reached Waterloo and I am still writing. This morning is being very successful so far.

Next on the plan, the library blog. I would like to see that being more active as well. However I don’t want to over commit, not achieve an objective, and let the Demon back to full strength. I think once a week on the Diligent Room blog is achievable. I used to write something every Sunday and I think I will go back to that. The next post I have in mind for that is looking at Open Access resources for librarians.

Posts to my actual writing site will be much less frequent. Once I have this writing schedule in full flow I will do monthly updates there at the bare minimum. I may even cross-post from here. Not this post though.

I must also allow myself the ability to edit and explore other new ideas. So the morning commute, once planning has been done, will focus on the primary work in progress. The evening commute may be primary work in progress, new story idea planning, other story writing. I will allow that time for this.

The train is now leaving Petone. The sun is starting to peak its head above the horizon, although the clouds obscure this. It’s a grey morning now with a full carriage. The chap who sat next to me from Featherston is snoring and has just stirred. The harbour is a little choppy so I wouldntĀ want to be crossing on the ferry. Wellington is partially obscured in drizzle. I have written many words (I will do a word count at the end of this post) and I am feeling that I have been successful in my battle with words.

I think sometimes as a writer I don’t see the words for the characters on the page, or the lack of them. But today a veritable word forest has sprouted.

Right now I am dithering over when to call it quits for the trip. I want to mark a spot where I can say each day this is where I want to end my trips writing.

In the morning I think it should be KaiwharawharaĀ as we go past the Animates. On the way home it will be after Matarawa – when I see the Dalefield factory.

Well there’s Animates, so from me it’s Good Morning. And if you have made it this far have a chocolate fish. šŸ˜†


(Word Press tells me this 2169 words long – not bad for 90 minutes of writing)

(Also lots of editing in that final third. Must watch that)


One thought on “When You Can’t See The Words For The Letters or Adventures With The Demon of Self Doubt or Wordsalad

  1. Well done
    I’ll be waiting for the murder mystery
    Always fascinated by real authors. I read a lot on Diana Gabaldon and how she writes and got started. Check out her web page as she makes a lot of sense.
    Don’t envy you the commute but the time will be well spent

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