RU contributor Handsome Hansel talks about complacency, flabby writing, and ways to get your head back into the game.
For example… I live in a part of the country with textbook seasonal weather. While I’m an avid exerciser and feel I’m in pretty good shape for my age, I always seem to slide during the winter months. It starts with small things. The days get shorter so I can’t take my hikes or walks in the evening like I do during the other seasons. Once winter hits, I am out of yard work and outside projects that help to keep me in shape as well. With the shorter days come more TV and movie watching which is only right to do as long as you are eating something sinful, right?
My wardrobe changes too. Gone are my tank tops, fitted shirts, and flat front dress pants; replaced by t-shirts layered with a comfy sweater hovering over loose fitting jeans. Like a typical goldfish, I’m only going to grow into the clothed tank I’ve put myself in.
So I spend my winter fooling myself I’m still ok. That I’m still in shape and whatever few pounds I’ve gained, whatever strength I’ve let go, can be regained with relative ease once I make it past the winter solstice.
It’s not until the weather breaks and I throw on one of my favorite shirts that I realize just how far I’ve slid. It’s the same every year. I stand in disbelief fighting the coming admission that all along I was fooling myself. Which is followed with me wondering why no one in my inner circle said anything and then the determination to get back in shape.
For those of us who have been writing for any length of time our writing suffers the same winter weight gain. For those who are newer to writing, yours will too. Give it time. At my age I love listening to 20-somethings at the gym believing they will always look the way they do now. I feel the need to tell them to come talk to me after they’ve been married, raised some kids, been inundated by life and finally realize not everything is within their control.
So what do we do if we feel our writing is in need of getting back in shape? Work it out. Get it back to basics but first find the passion which started you writing in the first place.
In some cases that may mean finding yourself a personal trainer of sorts. A new set of eyes for what you’re writing. Someone who will be honest in a way those closest to you may not be anymore. It’s been my experience that even your own critique group will water down over time once personalities are known and friendships are deepened. Find yourself a critique group full of Jillian Michaels that will yell and scream your writing to a higher level. Trust me, it’s going to hurt like hell and you’re going to want to scream some choice words back but in the end you will be thrilled with the final result and realize they were doing what was best for you and your writing.
Finding the passion is an easier one for me but it’s not always at the surface where it should be. After-all, we always have the best of intentions but our heart’s just not in it. Since we are predominately all Writers of Romance I feel it fair to say most of us need to be “in the mood” to write. I certainly do. You can’t fake passion. (Ok ladies stop giggling your disagreement at me.
Rediscovering the passion for writing is going to be a different process for all of us since most of us came to writing from different paths. For me it was to clear my head of the stories I was telling myself of the people in my surroundings. I’ve written of this before so I’ll not go any further but when I couldn’t stop thinking of a scene I witnessed being played out earlier in the day, putting it on paper with a beginning and an end to go with the middle I had playing on a loop in my head, helped.
If I’m about to write a love scene and I’m feeling creatively frisky, I’ll light some candles, put on some sexy music and make love to my iMac screen. (That didn’t sound anywhere near as creepy in my head as it now looks on the page.) After all, we all know the best sex happens when the stage is set. You’re more in the mood mentally when you are presented with soft music, the glow of candlelight, a romantic meal with wine, and most importantly a lover willing to take their time. Who really is going to be in the mood coming home to a messy house, a Big Mac, and The Best of Lawrence Welk playing? With the exception of the one lady in the back with her hand raised I think it’s fair to say it would be hard to find the passion to write under those circumstances much less anything else.
When we become complacent with our writing we write and write and write because we feel we have to. Even though we are writing more, we become lazy within our writing and we need to trim the fat. Put our writing on a bit of a diet so to speak. Stop taking three paragraphs to explain something when three sentences will do. (Hang on I’m taking a moment to count how many sentences I just used there.)
A great editor will help with this. They’ll help tighten and tone your writing back into the shape it’s meant to be in. That’s one of the best parts in all of this! If I decide to go on a Ben & Jerry’s bender this weekend, it’s still my ass that needs to hit the gym to get me back in shape. When it comes to writing, we can overwrite all we want then have someone else do word yoga for us until we look good in a sexy book cover.
It’s important we admit to ourselves if we feel we are being complacent in our writing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of as long as we are willing to shake things up a bit to get our writing (and us) back into shape. With that, I have to get myself downstairs. I have a date with Tony Horton. It seems I need to get my girlish figure back.
Okay, RU crew, what’s your method for conquering complacency and getting your head back in the game?
RU’s weapons expert, Adam Firestone, joins us on Monday, April 8th.
Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.
I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com
- Weekly Lecture Schedule: April 1 – April 5, 2013
- Passion Needs Compassion – Handsome Hansel Tells Us Why!
- Working Out Your Writing with Handsome Hansel
- Weekly Lecture Schedule – August 5-9
- Handsome Hansel – I Blame Computers