I never thought it would happen to me. I read Elizabeth’s post back in March on it, and every single lady has complained about it at one point or another. Still, it had never happened to me. Even when my writing wasn’t going well, it was going…somewhere. I stayed on schedule. I hit the chair every day. And I put words on the page. I’d never suffered from writer’s block or writer’s fatigue or whatever you want to call it. Hell, I wasn’t sure it even existed, and I couldn’t really identify with those who did (sorry ladies but apparently it’s one of those things that must be experienced).
I found out no one is immune to this scourge the week after I returned from Desert Dreams. At first everything was fine. I was on the keyboard and I actually made some progress on Act I. I was excited about everything I’d learn during my trip, but I never really felt the sense of renewal and inspiration that I’d hoped the trip would provide. At first I figured it was the cold virus I brought home with me. That’s what was making me butt-dragging tired and a little down, but when that cleared up and the writing blues didn’t, I chalked them up to dreary old man winter who would not let go of Ohio, as well as the normal let down after a long anticipated event is over (Think January doldrums after the holidays). I was still hitting the chair and getting some new words down so everything was all right.
Then the unfocused, distracted, crazy mind churning began. I’d sit in my chair rereading old scenes trying to get things organized in my head if nowhere else and suddenly the book felt overwhelming. How would I ever pull this mess into something coherent? Did I even want to anymore? Maybe I should start something new. Maybe I should reorganize my office. Maybe I should outline my whole book. Maybe brainstorm ideas on my whiteboard.
I didn’t do any of that. I simply spent unproductive hour after hour sitting in front of the computer letting my butt go as numb as my creative spirit. Finally, I couldn’t face my office anymore. I closed the door, but I was on the wrong side of it.
During this time, I was still writing my 8L posts and even making a fair attempt at being upbeat in them, but the whole time that naysaying bitch of a voice I thought I’d buried long ago, (you all know the one that tells you you’re not a “real” writer or that you’re not good enough or that everyone around you is doing so much better than you) was taunting me until even writing an 8L post was becoming torture. Who was I to share my writing experiences? I couldn’t seem to get motivated to write anything and I didn’t want to “wing it” for Eight Ladies by re-running old posts, but I had nothing new to offer. Reminding myself that every single writer has her own version of that voice was little consolation.
After weeks of trying to buck up, push through it, and fix this on my own, I finally did what I should have done from the start. I turned to the team (to paraphrase Michille). I told the 8 Lady community that I was having some difficulty getting words down and asked for advice. As usual the group pulled together with their support and advice and ideas. In the spirit of “Write what you know” most of them advised admitting to the problem in a quickie post with maybe a link to something on writer’s block—that was my intention when I began writing this…and look where it’s led me.
Yes, I’ve got a whole page of new words here (and they’re rather self-centered I’m sorry to say) which is more than I had yesterday, but I’m not naïve enough to think my problem is solved. I need strategies for fixing this long-term. Getting refocused on my WIP will take more than a blog post.
Right now my idea is to write a draft of my “rescue” scene that wraps up Act III. It’s a necessary scene (Cheyenne battles a dust storm as she tries to locate the missing River McConnell) and I think it will be fun to write despite my lack of experience with dust storms. Plus it’s a chance to wing it and do something a little wild and adventurous. Not to mention, what better metaphor for what I’m experiencing right now than to have Cheyenne stumble around blindly as she struggles to relocate something she loves desperately. I may not use it, but even if I don’t it’s time well spent on so many levels.
I found a couple of good web sources on conquering writer’s block (google writer’s block and you’ll see a crapload of sites). I was going to include them here, but honestly, doing so felt BS’y. The advice is fairly stock (create a schedule for example) and while fine, I personally didn’t see a lot of value in most of it for my problem. If there’s one thing I know for certain, the cure is a very individual thing and will probably depend on the cause. Sometimes it’s a matter of not giving up and giving yourself time.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what was your “cure”?