I don’t believe in writer’s block. Or muses. Well, at least not the kind which come to offer inspiration.
In short, I don’t believe in the mystical excuses of writers. I don’t think there exists any ethereal form which blocks your writing. There is no dog growling at you in the ether as you go to put your fingers on the keys.
However, I do believe in less-than-decent prose. I do believe in not-feeling-like-writing-today. I even believe in not-in-the-mood-for-this-type-of-writing. I do believe that, like with anything, you don’t feel like working so hard. I believe that some parts of writing are emotionally difficult to push through.
But I don’t believe that there is a thing that happens in some far off, unreachable space, out of any control, which stops you from being able to write.
If you’re not writing, I tend to put the reason into one of these categories:
– You’re tired/hungry/bored/the TV is on. In which case, meet that need and then begin writing – don’t let it fester.
– The scene is boring/difficult-in-your-eyes to write. In which case, write brief notes about the scenes’ main aims, and move onto the next one. Or skip ahead with the idea of coming back (but make sure you do!) Sometimes writing the scene as briefly as possible can allow you to move forward. (Snorri told me about that trick.)
– You’ve noticed a problem and are itching to go back and re-do/fix it. Or you’ve recognised this scene so far is sucky writing. It happens to everyone; seriously — don’t stop if this is your first draft of the storyline. Otherwise you’ll do nothing but re-write your beginning eleven times (I might have learned this one the hard way.)
– You’re finding writing hard today. I know I have days when I’ve done my 9-5 job, then had to cook/clean and I just can’t face the words. So I write the minimum – Perhaps I won’t find a scene I can be excited by today, but I pick one, and I write until I hit my minimum goal for the day. Even if it takes 2 hours to get 500 words. Then I stop, and feel proud of myself.
And do you know why having realistic, real-world problems is so helpful?
Because those things have solutions, They can be fixed. I don’t know what to do with an ethereal force holding back on me. I do know what to do when I’m hungry and I feel I have to put a scene here to explain XYZ, but it’s boring.
So think about the block; look at the options and see if you identify it. Is it low mood at bad prose? Is it distraction of wanting to fix an earlier part? Or are you just not in the right place?
Then; fix it. Get in the right place, or commit yourself to just doing the work and not enjoying it for one day. Maybe tomorrow will be different or maybe it won’t; but remember that it’s always in your control.
What kind of blocks do you get?
Do any of them not fit my categories? – perhaps I’ve missed one.