Friday, July 20, 2012

When You Can't Get a Word Down...

Ever suffered writer's block? I have - for the past month. I kicked off a new manuscript a few weeks ago, something I was really excited about. Characters I could see really clearly. Even scenes I could feel. Unfortunately, my plot progression just wouldn't come. And when I don't know where I'm going, I can't write.

It's demoralizing. I'm a fast writer. I can usually bang out a first draft in less than three months. It's not unusual for me to hit an obstacle along the way, but this is the first time it happened at chapter four.

This is also the first time in over three years that I've gone a full month without writing on a book. While I hope it doesn't happen again, I did learn something: Writing isn't the point of life.

Staggering, isn't it?

Okay, okay, so it's not exactly profound. But I wanted to make a few notes about things I've observed this time around for the next time the block inevitably comes to visit:

1. I'm often feeling 'unbalanced' between family life and writing. This was a chance to swing in the other direction. After a few days of stagnating, I gave up trying to write and accepted that things weren't going my way. I used the extra time to hang out with my son, talk to my husband, and generally do lots of the little things I felt like I often miss.

2. Novel WIP's aren't the only kind of writing that offer satisfaction. I wrote a lot of blogposts in advance, some long emails to family and friends, and a few quippy quotes for twitter and facebook. Since I was frustrated in one creative avenue, it was nice to channel that energy somewhere else.

3. I've rediscovered reading multiple full-length novels in a week. All the writers I admire say writers have to be avid readers. I am, but I have so few hours to choose my activity, that books often take me a week or more to finish. With so many writing hours free, I devoured books by the handful. A nice mental vacation, and very inspiring!

4. This isn't the time to panic. As an unpublished writer I still have the luxury of choosing my own goals and deadlines. Yes, I would have liked to have been a good 50,000 words further ahead with this project, but in the grand scheme of things... well, meh.

5. Sometimes the cure for the block is out of your control. For me, in this case, it took a conversation with a writer friend wherein I whined about all the problems I had, the characters I was dealing with and the plot I couldn't see. She (of course, because she's a genius) saw the answer almost immediately. I didn't. It took another hour of talking and her explaining her idea again for me to see exactly how perfectly she'd nailed it the first time. (And she really was right. I wrote a chapter in an hour today and can't wait to get back to the keyboard tomorrow).

This is just my journey, of course. But I'll be referring to this post in future, I'm sure. If you're ever in that spot and you run across this post, go ahead and comment. Maybe all it will take to trigger your inspiration is a conversation with moi. Or maybe not. But at least you won't be alone in it anymore.

Your Turn: Are you suffering from the block? Is there a problem we can help you with?


  1. Been there, done that, and your points are the same lessons I learned. Right now I'm blocked simply because all four kids are at home and even when playing well together they are too loud. My characters got tired of screaming to get my attention after June. They are now waiting patiently for school to start like I am.

    We're calling it "forced vacation" for all of us. And by that I mean all my imaginary friends. ;)

    Good luck and happy writing!

  2. Yes, I'm suffering from the block right now. It's more like procrastionation at this moment. It doesn't help that there's also some stuff I have to do for school over the summer.

    1. Yes, other responsibilities are a big curb to creativity to me, too. Good luck!

  3. Have been there. Once I went on a 4 year hiatus. I don't think that will happen again. I'm sure it won't happen to you! At that time I was able to focus my energies on my crafts. I got it out of my system. Missed writing terribly, and had to return to it (can't do both things)

    Usually, when the writing verve dries up, it does mean you need a small vacation. I think you've come up with great solutions.

    At the moment, I've got a number of projects in the fire. I listed them on my side bar, I didn't even realize how many until I put them up there.

    I'll be going on vacation soon, and I'm only taking a notebook. The road trip will take us out to Montana. I'm looking forward to it.

    Hope you get back to the keyboard soo, Aimee (^;

  4. I have the exact same problem of not being able to write if I don't know where I'm going... which is why ALL my novels end at chapter 4...! :) One of these days I'm going to figure out this "plotting" thing and actually get to the finish line!

    1. I'm sure you will. And I'll be cheering when you do :)

  5. A great post! I can't write a line if I don't have the whole plot figured out, so I understand your problem here. Hopefully you now know where you're going and this writer's block is a thing of the past. Happy writing!

  6. I agree about keeping the balance between writing and life. I'm still working on that one. Best of luck pushing through the block!

  7. great blog really helped I look forward to more