So I've got a story or two in me.
Ah, who am I kiddin? I've got hundreds. Dark comedies, actioneers, sci-fi and fantasies most especially. Shorts, novellas and maybe—just maybe—a novel or three as well. The words congeal into paragraphs like soldiers forming battalions and rage inside me like a turbulent sea. The floodgates tremble. The dam bulges. The levee is about to break. A literary flood is imminent, waiting to be inscribed laser-like onto my computer screen, held at bay by gritted teeth and sheer willpower.
I will sit down, crack my knuckles and simply let it all flow…
It's that easy, right? Right.
It's one thing to turn the reins over to the muse right after reading an awesome book, or seeing an adrenaline-jolting movie, or running with the bulls in Pamplona. Yeah, those mountain top experiences infuse you with energy and a sense of urgency to go out and show the world exactly what you're made of.
But what about those other 364 nights out of the year. You know, when the kids need help with homework and the yard needs mowing and your needy Jack Russell Terrier just won't quit depositing her slobber-coated tennis ball in your lap?
What keeps you going when you only have snippets of hours here and there and you are tired and beat down and are working on what seems like the 2999th day of writing your 3000 word short story and you are in danger of going into the negative on your one-word-a-day goal but all you really want to do is go eat a chocolate chip cookie and go to bed?
The deeper I get into this whole writing deal the more I realize that, sure, craft is necessary as is skill. Of course, some smattering of talent is a plus and the nuts and bolts of grammar and composition will likely come in handy. But discipline and focus are the glue that binds it all together. Not all of us have a cabin by the sea that we can sequester ourselves away in for months at a time, to emerge haggard and bleary eyed with a completed novel in hand.
We live in the real world and quite often, real life gets in the way. It's about a daily grind. Writing when you really don't feel like a writer. Pushing yourself like a marathon runner who is on the verge of collapse.
So, how do you do it? What tricks of the trade do you employ to distill something usable from those late nights?
It's all about coffee and chocolate…