Tag Archive: retzev


 

While I’ve always been a fan of music, I love it even more when there’s a message in the lyrics that apply to my life. A group of London DJs and producers called Bugz in the Attic have a song titled “Consequences.” The song is basically about keeping up with your current progress, not lagging behind or going too slow lest you pay the consequences.

I feel like this is something that especially applies to writers. We all know what it feels like when you spend several days in a row churning out pages and pages of material. Creativity is flowing and you feel better knowing you’re making progress and start to feel more like a professional writer and less like someone who only thinks or talks about writing. Then something happens and you go a few days without writing anything. Before you know it, it’s been a week since you’ve even opened the file on your WIP, and that feeling of accomplishment you once had fizzles down to nothing.

Trust me, I know how life gets in the way, but if you were once able to work on your novel, short story or screenplay for several days in a row, you can do it again. Even if your schedule becomes hectic, there’s surely a way you can cram in ten minutes here and ten minutes there. While every second counts, you have to make an effort to make it count. If you don’t keep up with your new writing level, you may pay the consequences. Consequences such as that feeling of emptiness you get when you haven’t written or done anything productive in a while, that feeling of taking three steps forward and stumbling three and a half back. You also run the risk of ruining a serious writing streak. You get your brain used to pumping out several words or pages every day or every other day and then you suddenly stop, slamming you mind into a brick wall. I’ve been working on my novel for the past few days, and I’ve been in nothing but a good mood.

Keep up with the writing spirit and let it have its way. You don’t have to write every day, but try to at least think of ideas and scenes for your story. Always keep a notepad and pen nearby to jot down ideas or use a phone app to keep notes. You’ll find that simply thinking about your story will get you excited. Think of writing like exercise. At first it’s grueling and your muscles protest, but if you keep up with it your body will eventually grow accustomed to it and you’ll be able to do more repetitions, go longer without taking a break and you might even start to look forward to exercising. If you suddenly stop, you run the risk of seeing all of that progress disappear every time you look in the mirror or go up a flight of stairs.

Don’t be afraid of doing more, of being more. And don’t be afraid that your writing streak is just a fluke that will wear off in a few days. Even when you don’t feel productive or creative, you can still study the craft of writing. That way, when another writing streak comes back around you won’t be struggling with scene, dialogue, tone or character arcs.

To end this post, I’ll leave you with “Consequences” by Bugz in the Attic.

Take care out there.

What are some ways that you try to keep a writing streak constant? 

Krav Maga is an Israeli self-defense system, and in it there’s a concept known as “retzev.” Retzev basically means keeping up a continuous flurry of attacks and never leaving a gap to allow your opponent to escape or launch a counterattack. While I’m no Krav Maga master, I do think that the concept of continuous motion can and most definitely should be applied to writing.

 

I really enjoy variety and keeping things fresh and new even if it’s something that I’ve done several times. When it comes to writing, I try to keep up a continuous chain of “attacks” with writing, editing, blogging, re-writing, outlining, brainstorming and even reading. This allows me to constantly be working on something and have something to work on. With my second novel, I’m slightly changing up the format of my writing with some chapters. My latest chapter is comprised of nothing but training missions and an earlier chapter took a short break from the main cast of characters to focus on two other characters that inhabited the same world, just to flesh out the universe of the book.

As writers, it’s easy to be hard on ourselves and feel that we’re doing something monumentally wrong, or will never become a professional. What if a professional is nothing more than a person who never stops feeding and exploring their passions and making an honest attempt at fulfilling a goal? If a boxer does nothing but work on perfecting their left hook, they may have a mean punch, but they won’t know how to defend themselves or throw a combination to knock their opponent off guard. If you keep working on perfecting your dialogue writing skills, you may find yourself lost when it comes to character development or describing the setting your chatty characters inhabit.

One of the best ways to work on your writing style isn’t to constantly write, but to constantly read. Work on your editing skills by going back to the basics with the rules of punctuation and grammar. If you’re having trouble with pacing, watch a TV show or movie. In these formats you have to cut your material down to a certain amount of pages so it fits within a certain time frame. Attack your writing from different and unexpected angles. Are you better at defense or offense? Outlining or freewriting? Is there a way to transfer the principals of one to the other? Try out and examine different methods, even if you don’t think they’re a good fit for you.

This post is a little all over the place, and I think I like it that way. While I probably won’t make it a habit, I do enjoy the change. Keep the spice going in your writing relationship by switching things up. I’ve heard that it’s a good idea to stop writing before you get to the end of a chapter so you’ll have a great jumping point for next time. Edit snippets of conversations you hear while at the grocery store (I’ve done this before). This will give you a feel for how people really talk and how you should properly punctuate “real talk.” Read a sci-fi novel and a western novel at the same time. You never know how the mixed reading experience may help you. Keep things off balance and organize the chaos.

Take care out there, and keep those hits comin’ from every angle.

What are some ways you like to keep your writing life fresh?