Getting Out of the Swamp of Something-Or-Other

I like to think of myself as moderately technology capable. Okay – I’m not that quick to learn WordPress features, but I’m getting there. I can use my cell phone to call people and text and take pictures and I’ve got my alarm clock feature crammed with daily alarms and I just figured out the utility feature that lets me type notes, but it’s kinda slow because I am not one with the texting hoo-doo.

This being said, I still have a daily planner that’s pen and paper. I’ve tried transferring it to the phone of doom and I get lost. It’s faster for me to write than type on a keyboard sized for friggin’ fairies, anyway.

This is all a very round-about way of saying I write in different ways at different times.

I can slam out the 50k/28 day story once in a great while, but the vast majority of the time I plug along and angst over scenes and what-not, switching back and forth between my old ergonomic keyboard they don’t make anymore and ink on dead trees.

There is logic to my madness.

Sometimes, inspiration strikes and scribbles must be made because there is no way in hell I’ll be able to text out the idea as fast as it’s coming and I’m nowhere near my workspace. Or the kids are in the TV room, in which case, I can’t work in my workspace. Because it’s behind the futon in the TV room.

Other times, I must retreat from my computer because ain’t nuthin’ comin’. Nope. Nada.

This doesn’t mean I’ve no clue what’s got to go on the page. It’s more along the lines of – “well, my characters are here and I want them there but this thing HAS TO HAPPEN HERE OR EVERYTHING GOES TO HELL but I can’t get things moving.”

I’ve tentatively called this the Swamp of Something-Or-Other.

When this happens, it takes me a bit to realize that I’m in the the Swamp of Something-Or-Other and a lot of times it’s in the digital ‘Verse. Therefore I have to jump out of digital space and move into dead tree space. If I don’t, I can skip the scene in question to write one a few further up, but then I get stuck again, so I go back and get stuck again. Back and forth for about a week like a bad game of Atari Pong.

Stop looking at me like that. I enjoyed Pong, dammit.

There’s a rough process I use to get out of the Swamp. I take out old business cards (we’ve boxes of them – the husband gets a few boxes for every new gig he gets, usually before he uses up the old ones) and write on the back of them.

Here’s the rule:

You can only scribble a one liner that describes the scene you want to happen, using the least number of words possible.

“Bad guy kills npc here.” “Bad guy causes distraction at mines.” “Good guy does this.”

This is actually a lot more liberating than writing them all on a single sheet of paper or getting detailed with each scene.

If I don’t like a phrase I wrote, I can just pull it out of the stack and lay it face-down on the table.  I can reshuffle my basic scene ideas into any order without confusing lines or circles or x’s that make my notes illegible. I don’t feel chained to it like I do an actual, honest-to-the-gods outline.

Sometimes I shuffle the deck and pull out random scenes and write the random scene in question. Not tons of detail, but enough that if you were to look at the painting, you could tell it was supposed to be a woman looking out a window.

Or maybe a dancing fruit tray on a donkey’s back. It depends on whether or not I start writing at 230 am.


Sometimes I get enough down that I feel comfortable going back into the digital files and fitting in the rough puzzle piece I just sketched out. I emphasize “rough.” It isn’t uncommon that I’ll hand-write a scene ten pages long in script, but only use half of it – jumping around, rearranging the dialogue, adding this, discarding that as I type it or I’ll only have 4 pages written and it balloons into 12.

Other times I’ll try writing things in order as I have the cards laid out.

Either way, it must be hand-written. I’ve tried skipping the middleman and going straight to the keyboard and it don’t work. I think there’s a toggle switch in my brain that needs to be flipped back and forth a few times to clean the contact points or something.

Eventually, this all gets me out of the Swamp of Something-Or-Other, freeing me up to tippy-type on the road of Shiny Things once again until I get stuck in another swamp.

About kattywampusbooks

A SAHM with delusions of literacy.
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