The Battle with “Should”

Lately I’ve struggled to write, mostly because of my own doubt rather than a lack of inspiration. I stare at the blank page and tell myself I should be better at this by now. It should be easier or faster or something. I go through these phases sometimes where I can’t quite tackle one thing because I “should” be doing something else. My day job is done from home and of course I write in the very same desk chair, so any time I’m at home I could be working. I “should” be working on something. Or at the very least I should be cooking, cleaning, weeding, buying groceries, paying the bills, or doing laundry so that I’m not forced to choose between a swimsuit and an old Halloween costume to dress myself.

This feeling of “should” can be exhausting, can’t it? It’s hard to settle down, relax, when there’s always something else to do. I decided part of my problem is too much time in front of the computer so I tried not to think in shoulds this weekend.

I watched movies: White House Down (which was better as Olympus Has Fallen but I do like Jamie Foxx as the president) and Pacific Rim (needs more Idris Elba). I finally finished reading a book that I’ve been limping through for entirely too long. To eliminate one nagging to-do list item, I rediscovered the health benefits of dusting. (If you actually survive the experience, it’s a lot easier to breathe afterwards. I’m totally going to do it again next year.) Knocking out a few shoulds seems like a great way to regain some of that focus. I guess we’ll see!

Anybody else have this challenge? Too many shoulds crowding out your focus? What do you do to conquer it?

Changing horses in midstream

I know nothing about horses. They are large and have big teeth. People ride them. And it is apparently not the best idea to change horses in midstream, thus we have the saying. Google says we owe the saying to Abraham Lincoln. And it’s on the Internet so it must be true.

But I’m going to do it anyway.

I’m pretty sure I’m a pantser at heart. I always have been. When the assignment required an outline, I wrote the paper first and then the outline. I think this is because I have so many words and it’s hard for me to know what they’re going to do without spreading them out and rearranging them.

But I want to be a plotter. There are good reasons to plot first and then write. Being able to tell an editor what you’re going to do without writing the whole dang book would be a very good reason. Also, being able to follow an outline should mean you know what to put down every single day.

I got closer with the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel because I thought out a series. So, now that I’m at the last one, everything should be easy. I’ve set up the place. I know the secondary characters very well. But I’m going to tell you, the hero and heroine of this one are giving me heartburn. Part of that’s because my editor and I made a change in the first book that impacts this one. And it’s so cool that I can’t even believe how things work out. But now I’m having trouble figuring out who this guy is and what kind of girl he needs. Have you ever been there? No? Just me? Fine.

I mean, his backstory is set. We’ve been reading it already. What is the deal?

It doesn’t help that my day job has hammered every single bit of imagination into pulp lately. Or that the clock is ticking. But…today, I think I nailed the Jell-O to the wall. This is who he is (until my editor says differently) and this is who she is. And I’m starting over. This will be version three of Chapter 1. Third time’s the charm.

Anybody know where that saying comes from? If it’s Abraham Lincoln again, I’ll know it’s all meant to be. Just in case it isn’t, I’m not going to look it up. Here’s my new, impossibly ambitious plan. I still have the day job. I still have edits on Can’t Help Falling In Love. But I need this story done. So it’s crunch time, yo.

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Look-a here, look-a here. The Rock’n’Rolla Hotel books, graphic-style

Look what my friend Codi made me! Plus, click her name and check out her way-cute website. I haz website envy! Also, the cover for her upcoming book, Things Good Girls Don’t Do, is way hot. I haz cover envy! The envy’s out of hand around here. So’s my to-do list. THROW CHOCOLATE, PEOPLE!! Also, bless good friends who brighten up days, you know? Chocolate for Codi too! I can’t wait to get to Hotlanta to meet up!

Hotel