Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Writer's Strike Out or Walk?

Ready for the game
The grass is green, the sun is shining, and the bats are swinging. Don't know how many of you spend your first days of summer in a bleacher cheering on the home team, but I hope that we are all familiar enough with America's sport of baseball to talk it's lingo in the writer's world. And if'll catch on pretty quick!

Amidst the lifestyle of attending tournaments and Little League as a baseball mom, I have picked up writing my latest story. Recently, I had the chance to get-away for a writer's mini-retreat with a friend between "games".

Leaving behind the bleachers scattered with popcorn, the crack of a bat, the cheer of a crowd, and the cloud of dust from a slide into home, I settled into a patio chair, breathed in the Midwest fresh air, and set my hands on the keyboard.
My view as I tried to write
At last.
My son's passion (and my husband's) may be baseball, but on that mini-retreat (half a day), I would pay some attention to my passion of writing. And I planned to make a word count Grand Slam (that's a lot of word count for all you non-baseball folk). Yeah, I planned on getting my book THAT much closer to Scout-ready (um...editor appointment ready...).
That was the game plan. That's what I had bet on for this retreat.
And five hours later. I had a whole page and a half to show for it.
In baseball terms, I felt like I struck out looking. And I was the landscape, at the chocolate, at the sky, at the house.
When I considered the pitches thrown at me--the context in which I was writing, the story thus far, the scene I was working on--I clammed up, dabbled with some ideas, some paragraphs, then scrunched my nose and said to myself, "This is not going to get me a run....this isn't even going to give me contact with the ball!". I was rustier than I thought after a season of proposal writing and short story focus. This story wasn't going anywhere near first base.

Or was it?

What I may have thought was a strike out, might've actually been a walk... progress to first base due to off pitches:
Something that might not give the batter much glory, but it gets the batter in the game.
Looking back on that retreat and feeling like I struck out, really was a walk. Even if I didn't make the word count or the preparation needed for the scout, I got in the game anyway. I cranked out words and a scene painfully, but at least I got in the character's head, got into the thick of the plot, made forward motion no matter the pace.
Hanging out in the bleachers
Die Hard Fan
I can see this now because the next time I sat down to write after that inning, I began swinging and making contact with my story in the next inning (ahem...a moment to write at home). You see, what I thought was an unsuccessful writer's retreat, was actually a stepping stone to get into the story. It might not have been the up-to-bat I wanted, or the pitches I expected, but it put me in a forward motion to give me a chance to score later on in the game.
It's easy to focus on the numbers, the strikes, the outs, and the losses, but even those things get us to the next inning, the next scene, and eventually, the best call of all, "The End". Don't get discouraged when your writing time doesn't match up with your high hopes, remember that every word and minute counts towards something GREAT in the end!

When was the last time your writing time didn't meet your expectations? Do you see the benefit that came from it?**********************************************************************************************************************
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures. She is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.


Sherry Carter said...

I just got bac..k from a two-week vacation, thinking I'd be able to grab some relaxing time to write. I hardly wrote a word. But, looking back, I see that I spent a lot of quiet time with God So needed! Now, I'm ready to spend writing time with Him

Unknown said...

Good reminder! I had a rough weekend as far as writing, but I broke through some barriers and now I'm off and running. It's all about perspective!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Yep, I've been striking out big time! Been trying to get on a writing and editing schedule and the days and weeks are just slipping away. Ugh! Need to set some goals and buckle down. Great post, Ang! Love the family pics :)

Angie Dicken said...

Sometimes the best thing we can do is quiet ourselves and get right with God. That always gives me the perspective and room to honor Him in my productivity! Thanks for stopping by!

Angie Dicken said...

Angie, Glad this spoke to you today! Have fun making those runs!:)

Angie Dicken said...

Oh girl, I know what you mean about getting a schedule! Sometimes life with kiddos is so full we've got to give ourselves grace. I hope you are able to get a walk or two soon! Love you!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great advice, Angie! I do this so often. "Today I'm going to write a scene" or "Today I am going to exercise." And nothing.. Then I beat myself up all night while watching mindless TV!

Sometimes you just have to give up and start again the next day!