The last ditch try: a writer with brainout coaxes a few words into the world

The problem:

It was midnight. The whole day had been a wash – several small things accomplished: meals, a walk, a shower – but the brain had refused to click into that spot labeled ‘writer,’ where there is actual output in the form of words made up of letters, typed or otherwise created, except for a few comments in the earlier part of the day: I’m not brain-dead, just brain-reluctant (brainout). For the second day in a row.

You’d think it would be easy to just say, ‘Forget it – try again tomorrow.’ But that would mean that I somehow let brain fog rob me of another writing day. And it certainly doesn’t help move the WIP toward its finish.

The solution today (have no idea what will work tomorrow):

So I decided to try, before heading for the sack, a method which Alan Lakein (How to get control of your time and your life) calls the ‘last ditch try’: Make the effort to do the A1 (top priority task) for only 5 minutes. Surely one can try for five minutes, and tolerate just about anything (except Polar Bear swims). Back when I was working on my thesis, many a day this was the technique I used to get myself to writing, though that was when there was a brain in there and the problem was procrastination. But I digress.

I wasn’t even trying to guarantee actual scene text – I’m almost ready for that in this scene, but not quite, because the brain still thinks there are unfinished bits somewhere out there in the gray mist that need examining first.

No, I was trying to add words to the Knowledge file, the one where I now keep all the things I think of as I try to write each chapter. Bits of plot. Ideas which will go in there somewhere in the final version. Thoughts the characters need to have here. Bits of action that will move things along. ANYTHING at all.

Once I have dumped everything I can think of into the Knowledge file, then comes the process of putting the scene together out of all the bits and pieces, the cutting and pasting and pinching and filing-the-corners-off to get the little beasts to line up and make sense in some kind of sequence.

So. Almost anything would count as progress on the WIP – and I hadn’t been able, ALL DAY, to make the pixels have a purpose.

The execution:

Set the mental timer for 5 minutes. Trigger the possibility of output by stuffing in input: re-read the last couple days worth of notes. And, mercifully, something I read leads to something I now write to expand on one of the ideas.

It went on way past the 5 minutes (that often happens, though Lakein insists it isn’t critical – if today you manage only 5 minutes on the A1, tomorrow you start from a better place).

The results:

Tonight, it worked.

I am happy to write at the end of the file:

“NOTE: quitting for the night – eyes closing – but managed about 700 words for the last ditch try.”

Forward progress!

Plus 500 here.

It only hurt a little – and it rescued a whole day.

Have you used the last ditch try with success?


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