forcing it

If there’s anything I’ve learned this past NaNo, it’s that forcing it ain’t fun. Duh, you’re thinking. Well, duh back at you. Sometimes when the words don’t come, you gotta force it or face the blank page forever. Yeah, you can step away for a while. Read a book, go for a walk, watch TV, meditate, eat, etc. But eventually, you gotta get back in front of the screen and put some words down. Even if that means having to force it.

I’ve done a lot of forcing it this month in my mad effort to reach that 50k. So I made it, and that’s that, and wonderful I can move on. But the lesson sticks with me. Sometimes forcing it is necessary. Sometimes forcing it is not the right way to go.

Aside from the writing, part of the hair-pulling insanity has involved the evolution of whatever scene I’m working on. I have a pretty decent, detailed outline that I’ve been working from. But, as in war, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy. My outline has been through several changes this NaNo, much to my frustration. Its current incarnation feels alright to me, but I won’t be surprised if it goes through major changes yet again. All that aside, I have been hard at work typing out a scene for it to suddenly try to veer off the rails. And I don’t mean my characters start speaking for themselves. I’m talking a full-on train wreck of the bad variety. When creativity goes wrong–which is totally possible. You’re not happy with the new trajectory of the scene, and you work and sweat and grunt to force it back on track. Well, good luck with that. It doesn’t always work out. But good luck.

This month, I’ve lost touch with some people I wish I hadn’t. And I know what you’re thinking–why not just pick up the phone and reach out? Yes, I could do that. But at this point… that would be totally forcing it. I’m not in a talky mood with most people. On the flip side, I’ve reconnected with a few others, and that’s been pretty awesome. But even that involved forcing it. Yeah. Sometimes with friendships, you need to force it. And sometimes you need to just let things go where they will. Even if that means they go nowhere.

There’s a young woman I’ve been doing the whole on again/off again thing with. Not intentionally, of course. (I’m not that much of a jackass.) But it is what it is, and things have been a little rough with her. We even tried forcing it (it being the relationship, don’t misinterpret me) because we’re obviously into each other. But it’s really not working out, and sometimes it’s okay if things don’t work out. There’s no need to force it just because you’re both into each other. Some people just don’t belong together, for whatever reason. Of course, neither of us seem that willing to call it quits, so… on we go with the efforts to force it!

Finally… and perhaps I mentioned this before, but I reconnected with my old, original writing partner. Well, it hasn’t been the blissful reunion I envisioned. She’s a busy woman, and I’m a depressed, antisocial sort of guy. So I don’t call. When I do call, she doesn’t answer or doesn’t return my call. Or when I do call, she really doesn’t have a lot of time. Sometimes we connect and spend some time working story out, but… it feels like (surprise) we’re just forcing it.

You sense a recurring pattern here? Am I being too subtle? Alas, she’s not so great with forcing it, so trying it in those moments involves some angry feelings about not having to write all the time, especially when we’re not feeling it. Fair enough. Hell, I agree with her. But for me, that leads to flabby writing muscles.

I just had a similar conversation with my mom a couple days ago. Sometimes, the temptation is to vegg out. Do nothing. With depression, this temptation quickly becomes the status quo, and–in my opinion–that is not a good thing. Relaxation is one thing. But lethargy is something else. With me, it’s usually just laziness. I have spent most of my life coasting through one endeavor or another, relying on my natural talent to carry me where I need to go. (Yeah, maybe that sounds a little dick-ish, but it’s true.) I never had to work hard at school to earn good grades. Writing papers was always easy–except for my last year in grad school.

I’ve wasted a lot of time not doing things I should’ve been doing. Why? Well, part of it is the depression. Those of you who are depressed or bi-polar know how hard it is to get started. It’s like running up a hill made of ice while wearing tap dance shoes.

Ironically, I took tap dance as a child. Now if I could just find those shoes…


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