Writing is Worse than Puberty

When I hit middle school, my voice habitually creaked like a poorly-lubricated door (cliché simile). It was awful. I never had a problem getting taller or growing facial hair.  I never had to deal with acne. But my voice cracked pretty often. Chicks dug it (kidding).

Along with the physical effects came other things. I ate like an Ethiopian horse, housing two lunches a day and snacking like a fiend. My mind was out of whack. Seeing yourself morph from a smooth-faced child to a hairier, manlier, somewhat-adult-like thing is startling. Thankfully, I’ve stopped growing in that sort of way, being 19. But I’m faced with a new phase.

My ability to write has taken a dive (euphemism). Since January, I’ve been unable to write. Since January, guys. When there was snow on the ground. Here in Jersey, it’s just now starting to cool down again. At the beginning of this phase, I was so full of inspiration. The only issue I had was getting words down. Neither my vision nor my excitement wavered. But after sitting down quite literally every day with nothing but a paragraph at most to show for it by the day’s end day after day, I began to become discouraged. I didn’t initially see this as a problem because it didn’t feel like a problem. Progress was slim, but I came to the keyboard excited to write. I had the whole second act of the novel plotted out thoroughly, so it’s not like I didn’t know where I wanted to take it. I was only facing a nuisance. Surely it would get better.

It didn’t. My frustration grew. The excitement to sit and write wavered because I wasn’t making progress. I sought a solution. My best friend proposed that I step away from the page for a few weeks rather than force myself to write. I stepped away. I returned just as inspired, but just as stuck. My lovely girlfriend troubleshooted the potential root causes of the block with me time and time again. Again, my spirits were lifted, but the results did not change. My author-cousin recommended that I skip around in the story and fill in the gaps later. I wrote maybe five pages by his recommendation, then hit a block.

Recently, I spoke with a mentor of mine and he suggested that I pursue another project altogether to get the creative juices flowing (cliché). His advice pushed me into a project I had considered pursuing for a month or so. Now, I have a new document with a new outline and new notes. My original story was written in an elaborate, detail-heavy style. Frankly, that’s my writing voice. That’s how I write. (Take a look for yourself here, if you’re interested). This new pursuit has me writing more directly, with a snappier pace.

And that’s where I’m at. I wrote the first chapter in about a week. It’s been 2-3 weeks since then, and the second chapter isn’t coming along.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m just expressing my woes. I’m not. I’m letting you know what’s up, and if it sounds like it bothers me, it’s because it does. I’m at a loss. My ability to write this story disappeared over night. I don’t know how, but it did. And as I struggle to make progress on this new endeavor, I wonder if I’ve lost it all together.

Puberty was an inevitable phase. By the time I was done with it (or rather, by the time it was done with me), I was different person. At the end of this road, will creative writing be a thing of my past? Right now, it appears that this phase is something that’s out of my hands, as it’s been going strong since January.  What is this phase? Transition into adulthood? I don’t know. I became a man when I watched Braveheart for the first time, so it can’t be that.

I’m going to consider coming back to WordPress. It won’t be nearly in the same capacity as before because I am a student pursuing personal and professional endeavors, but I am going to consider it. I miss you lovely ladies and classy gents. I want to reconnect in a new way.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

January Writing Update and My New Deadline

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

At the end of December, I laid out a game plan after I failed to meet my self-imposed first-draft deadline. Since then, I’ve done my best to make the changes pinpointed in the post. Let’s see how I fared.

A Writing Environment. Done. Despite not raising enough money to build a writing barn, I’ve located two ideal writing spots in my home. Both are comfortable. Both have outlets within range. All is well. (Thank you to the anonymous donor who contributed 18 cents to my writing barn. Maybe next year).

A Set Writing Time. Done. I’ve determined that it would serve me best to write at night, after the day’s obligations have been fulfilled. Thus, I no longer open my writing document when I know I won’t be able to write anything. It sounds like common sense, but I was previously in a rut of clicking the doc, scrolling, and abandoning it because I didn’t have a window of time during which I could work on it. This makes the time when I do open the document more precious.

Exercise. Done. I’ve been going to the gym Monday through Thursday and working out at home over the weekends. I’m committed. It’s good stuff.

Focus on Demand. NOT done. Won’t be done. Impossible. Sounds too close to drugs. I don’t do drugs.

YouTube. Kind of done. I’ve chilled out with the YouTube. With everybody losing their minds over the state of politics here in the US, I’ve withdrawn for my own sanity, cutting down on YouTube significantly. So that’s good.

BioShock. Done. I haven’t touched the thing. I can’t wait to return to it though!

Snapchat. Highly controlled. It isn’t consuming as much of my time as it once was. Trust me, I’m good 🙂

Blogging (while writing)Highly controlled. Something’s clicked in my head and I’ve applied more focus into the novel-in-the-works when it comes time to write.

Not bad, eh? Now, about the writing…

The month of January thrust an array of new things into my lap virtually all at once: a challenging semester, a triumphant return to work, a classy lady, etc. With that, I’ve adopted a disciplined mindset to adjust to all of these things. It’s the writing I’m still trying to figure out. As it stands, I’m at a crucial moment in my novel. I’m about to introduce Carmengrove, a town which serves as a major setting in this story and will serve as a major setting in stories to come. I want to ensure that I understand the town’s workings and populace before I put a word to paper. I need Carmengrove to live and breathe. And so, every time I open up the document, I find myself taking notes and building up the setting. This preparation may be stalling the writing progress as it’s measured by page count, but it’s a necessary part of the process, so I’m entirely fine with it. That’s the deal with my writing. I’m sliding back into it, and I’m more excited than ever!

Finally, I’ve locked down the new deadline for the first draft of my novel-in-the-works. The date is…

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Drum roll please!

JUNE 15, 2017.

It’s nowhere near as dynamic as the previous deadline of January 1st, 2017, but it’s my deadline! Why June 15th? Frankly, June 15th is one month after I finish my Spring semester of college. I don’t want to cram the deadline into the school year (because it worked so well last time 😉 ). I figure this date gives me plenty of time to finish up this first draft! I am being patient with myself, and I hope you’ll be patient with me.

That’s the January Writing Update for ya, folks! I hope the first month of the year treated you well.

Thank you for reading.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

October Writing Progress Update

Happy Friday, folks! As you know, I’m writing a novel. I intend to finish its first draft by January 1st, 2017. Here in Jersey, the leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping, reminding me that the month of October is coming to a close. The pressure is on! So how have I fared this month? Let’s talk about it.

College keeps me busy. More busy than I would like. But when the moon and the stars align, I have time to write. The best moments spring up when I seize the flow crucial to the creative process and channel it until I exhaust it. When I do that, I’m like…

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When I look at the blinking cursor and have no clue what direction I’m heading in, I’m more like…

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I am currently a little more than halfway through Act II, 220 pages into the story. I understand that word count is the standard unit in the writing world, but page number is a measure that helps me to gauge my own progress. It’s also something that those who aren’t privy to writing vernacular can grasp. So I’m sticking with it.

This month, I haven’t written a single brisk chapter. In fact, with the plot thickening, the chapters I’ve been writing have been among the longest and richest I’ve penned thus far.

But the best thing I’ve written this month, by far, is a chapter I’ve titled, ‘A Leg of Lamb.’

Pulled straight from a status I posted on my Facebook author’s page (which you should totally ‘Like’):

“Sneak peek: 3 youngsters walk into an inn so rowdy it may as well be a tavern. Liquor, gambling, and shouting is aplenty. The boys only want a decent meal after being on the ocean for weeks, but things don’t go as to plan. Because there is no plan.”

Sounds wild, right? It is.

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Okay, certainly not as wild as Gatsby, but the chapter does have the workings of what I can work up to be a chaotic vibe.

Like any author, I cherish my characters. But after reading this chapter again, I think I’ve found one who most readers will fall in love with immediately (I can’t say “fans” because I don’t have any fans yet. I have to earn those. Although I think my mom is a fan of mine. Probably).

I’ve also introduced a character in a fashion I found to be particularly nifty.

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“Hold on just a moment.”

At the sound of that voice, a voice harsh as whiskey’s burn, a voice cold as winter’s frost, a voice powerful as hammer’s charge, every man and woman pulled their attention from the circle of six and put it to the man standing behind Joshua. Joshua moved with the crowd, turning with apprehension and curiosity to witness the man looming over him.

The speaker was tall. Excessively so. Joshua’s head climbed and climbed before it met a pair of copper eyes that rejected the purple light trying to penetrate them. Eyes stained red. The man’s nose was long and strong, his mouth set in a frown that managed to look more angry than sad. Beady stubble peppered his face. He was dressed in a fine black tweed coat and matching black pants befitting of Sunday morning church service. And he had a gun. A gun in his hand, pointed at Rocco. The gun was small, nothing so bulky as those toted by the toughs, but if the copper-eyed man had aim fierce as his voice, Joshua was certain the arm’s size was inconsequential.

Copyright 2016 J.J. Azar

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Nothing at this stage is final, of course, but there’s something commanding there. And I like it.

I aim to finish Act II by the end of November. November should bear a lighter load in terms of schoolwork, if my professors are honest, so I am confident I can hit my aim. Wish me luck. Likewise, I wish luck to all of you fine people who are pursuing writing, particularly those who are hopping aboard the “NaNoWriMo” writing challenge I’ve been hearing a lot about here in the WordPress community.

Thanks for reading! And as always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar