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What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Being Irritable



If there’s one thing I’ve learned from a myriad of sources over the past ten years, it’s that I should never ignore myself when I feel irritable.

I am not a person easily given to irritation. It takes a lot to push my buttons. Injustice is pretty much the only thing that can get me into a raging fury. (That and when drivers use the highway entrance ramp as a parking lot.) There’s a ginormous lot of space between my mellow and my raging fury, and I generally don’t stray too far from the mellow.

The husband might disagree with me on this point, but we’re not going to ask him. ; )

(Also, keep in mind that I’m talking about the emotional scale of mellow to irritation to outright anger. On other emotional scales–such as happiness, giddiness, excitement, anticipation, blah de blah–I can go from zero to passionate in two seconds flat.)

For example, as I wrote the above paragraph, I heard an odd noise and went to investigate. In the bathroom, I discovered a pile of cat vomit on the toilet lid. ON THE TOILET LID. Am I angry about this? No. Am I even irritated? Nope. What I am is utterly perplexed as to how this happened. And slightly amused that the feline in question at least knew the right room to go to. If only she could’ve lifted the lid….

Anyway, all of this to say I am not what anyone would call an irritable person. So when I find myself feeling grouchy about something, you’d think I’d know enough to pay attention.

Well, I’ve been working on a fantasy short story entitled “Out of the Darkness” for the past 8 weeks. And for the past 5 weeks, every time I’ve sat down to work on this short story, I’ve gotten ridiculously grouchy.

Of course, the grouchy affected the writing of said story. I kept getting stuck. My heroine didn’t want to do anything. My supporting character was such a nuisance, I considered having MC kill him just to get rid of him. My antagonist refused to show its (yes, its) face.

The stuck-er I got, the greater the grouchy every time I sat down to work.

Yesterday, after 5 weeks of self-torture, it finally dawned on me whence came all my troubles:

I did not want to be writing this story, plain and simple.

I wanted to be writing something else.

The something else in question happens to be the novel I’ve been saving for NaNoWriMo since last December. (Visit my NaNo profile page here!)

And that’s really all there is to it. My inner artist child was throwing a fit because instead of letting her get her way, I was making her sit down and do all this work on this stupid-kenupid short story.

Whaddaya know. My grouchiness was a temper tantrum.

The cure for my ills was contained within the realization. As soon as I identified the source of the ridiculous grouchy, something loosened inside my creative brain. BAM! Heroine gets some gumption. Not to mention some smarts. BAM! Supporting character actually says something useful. BAM! Antagonist finally arrives on-scene with a screech, sparks flying.

Last night, I finally typed the two most important words of the story and called it DONE. Inner artist child capered most bizarrely at her sudden, short-story-less freedom. Yay, now we get to think about the NaNo novel! We hearts the NaNo novel! We LUVS the NaNo novel! BANGERANG!

And so forth.

So. Lesson learned: When irritable about a particular piece of writing, ask self if the source of irritation might be nothing more than a temper tantrum. If answer is yes, tell inner artist child to suck it up and get the work done. Playtime is just around the corner.

And that’s WILAWriTWe!

3 Responses to “What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Being Irritable”

  1. […] Over at, I’ve posted my weekly column What I Learned About Writing This Week. Click on over to find out what cat vomit has to do with my short story crafting and National Novel W…! […]

  2. Heather says:

    too funny! I sat down all business like on Monday to hammer out my short story and went to bed celebrating its brilliant completion only to wake up Tuesday with the horrific realization that I had not actually written a short story. It’s more of a short beginning to a long story. Ugh! It had such a hold on me, though, that I couldn’t sit down and write anything else. Now I want to know the rest of the story. So…. I guess I have to scrap my original Nano novel plans and finish this “stupid-kenupid” story instead.

    • Sometimes that happens with story ideas! I’ve had several that whirled around in my head and made me crazy until I let them out. So, not just irritable–but insane! ; ) Thanks for sharing, Heather. At least I’m not the only one!