After exercising and showering, I got down to work. It was only 10 a.m., and I felt like I’d been released from bondage—hours and hours of free writing time before me.
I think I reported in a recent post that I’ve been making decent progress, averaging about 250-500 words in the morning before work (which is incredible for me). But something happened that morning that slowed my progress.
I’m working on the sequel to my first book—a dark and gritty look into the world of sexual slavery, with some consensual BDSM mixed in there. The sequel, which picks up the story about six weeks after the end of the first, is supposed to be a suspenseful, thriller-esque story with a continuing romance.
But on Monday, everything I wrote was just awful, or lackluster at the best. No emotion. No grit. No suspense. In fact – help me, please – everything came out kind of slapstick-y!
In my quest to diagnose this condition, I put the laptop aside and did another 30-minute workout, figuring maybe increasing the blood flow to my brain might bring an epiphany. It did not (although I burned calories!), and I struggled to write for the rest of the day.
When I went to bed that night, though, and settled in with my Kindle for my pleasure reading, it hit me. My writing that day was similar in style and tone to the book I’m reading! It’s a contemporary romance by a national best-selling author with probably 30 published books in several series. She doesn’t write slapstick-y by any stretch, but she does use physical situations in humorous ways. I do believe I was channeling her tone and voice while writing that morning. (If only it were as good as hers, I’d switch genres!)
It reminded me of a trip to Disney World when I was 16. I’m a native northeasterner with no discernible accent. I encountered a lot of southerners at the park, and at some point, I started subconsciously mimicking their accents. I forced myself to stop when I unintentionally offended one of the performers, a really cute teenage guy from Georgia (blond, blue eyes, nice muscles...I’ll bet he grew up into a fine looking man...).
Anyway, either I’ve transferred that tendency to my writing voice, or my overall mood (happy, relaxed) prevented me from going to the dark place the story calls for. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.
So now my question is, how do I turn off these subconscious voices in my head? Am I destined to finding my own voice only in the pre-dawn hours, when the world is dark and I’m exhausted from the drains of my every-day life?
Is my writing voice hopelessly schizophrenic, helplessly bound by the time of day or by mood?
Disgusted, I told myself that “professional” writers are supposed to be able to power through these glitches and make it work, and that’s what I’ve been doing—at least the powering through part. I can’t say I’m making it work, but that’s what second and third and fourth drafts are for. Right?
Eventually I’ll be in a dark enough mood, I’m sure, to get back to normal.
If any of you have experienced this phenomenon and figured out a way around, I’d love to hear your tips!
Leah writes stories of mystery and romance – or goofball slapstick, depending on her mood – and the power of love. Learn more at leahstjames.com.