Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Writer's "Block" (but not)

Last night, talking with my newest Twitter friend/writer friend/fellow Albertan (@nataliexmurphy), the subject of Writer's Block (but not) came up and led me to one of her blog posts regarding the terrifying annoying subject. I've been going through the same thing for the past little while, and boy is it frustrating. But after @nataliexmurphy led me to her blog post, I found there were many comments from multiple people. (If you would like to check out her post & the great comments, go here:  )

It made me reflect on my own writer's block procrastination stubbornness STRUGGLES. From reading everyone's comments on her post, I felt RELIEVED in the fact that I'm not the only one going through this. There were many great ideas and suggestions to drive past it, but I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm trying to drive past. At first I thought it was the Block, but I don't have the lack of ideas floating around in my mind. And I definitely don't have the lack of time to write (quick update on the layoff situation - yes, still jobless...). Thought it could have been procrastination, but it feels more like I'm being stubborn with myself. Or that I WANT to write (god, do I ever), but when I sit down and try to get myself to do it, I don't. It's almost as if the front of my brain, my immediate thoughts, is to WRITE, now! And the back of my mind, the "hidden" thoughts, are like 'do this instead, do that, do you REALLY want to write right now?'

I want to kill that voice. 

I don't know why ANY part of my brain would try to defer me from writing. I love to write. ALL of me! So this whole struggle is very unfamiliar and very frustrating. It feels like all I want to do is RUN, but my feet are glued to the floor. Sure, I've had my share of the "block", but this is different. I think (like @nataliexmurphy) I have too much personal stress/anxiety going on that it is taking over all of my mental and emotional efforts that I need to put into my writing, so maybe that part of my brain stupid voice is trying to tell me that I need to deal with other things before I can focus on writing something new. There is nothing wrong with taking a break and putting things on hold to deal with something else (I have done it before), but it shouldn't take this long. I'm bad for giving advice and not listening to myself on it - if you force yourself to write when something is holding you back, you won't be happy with what comes out and it will feel too FORCED. That is how I feel. You just won't be happy with what came out and will most likely change it when you're back on that writing train later on. 

Boy, I want to be back on that train. Anyone have a spare ticket? I've been doing a bit better lately, but it feels like I'm sitting on that train while it's not moving. I want to go for a ride.

A few of the suggestions involved reading. I admit, I usually go into 2 phases - a writing frenzy phase, and a reading phase. I'll write like made for a couple months, then the train stops for some sightseeing - this is when I enter the reading phase. Which, I guess is still productive because a writer NEEDS to read. It's in reading where we gather more knowledge that makes us better writers. A couple weeks ago, I got REALLY into a new series and read 4 books in 4 days (series is Rachel Vincent 'Shift' series in case you are wondering) and read countless writing blogs/posts/tips. If that isn't a reading frenzy I don't know what is. But that is what I generally do, I spit out multiple pages in writing, stop or slow down, and then read an insane amount. I call it entering my reading mode. 

So how long is TOO long to not be spitting out writing pages like mad? I got laid off 2 months ago (I can't believe it's been that long...) and one of my thoughts when I got laid off was "YAY. I can have so much time to WRITE." And yet I've hardly done any. Why?! Sometimes (and this is probably just for me) I have to sit myself down (like a bad child going to 'time out') and FORCE myself to write. "Alright Ash, you are going to SIT here until SOMETHING shows up on that page."

Last night it worked (kind of). I managed to write (even though it was only half a page *cough cough*), but overcoming that small   large hump of writer's... whatever you want to call it... felt GOOD. I don't care that it was only half a page - it was the first part written for chapter 1 of my new WiP (had previously written a prologue, then stopped), so in my mind it is a HUGE obstacle overcome. I feel like now that I have that initial "start", now I can just continue. If that makes sense. 

Anyways, this ramble has gone on long enough. I'm curious - what are YOUR solutions to being STUCK with your writing?



Natalie Murphy said...

Yay for half a page! It's SOMETHING, at least =)

You already know what my solution is for this funk I'm in. However, I do think I'm going to try writing today. All of my ideas have been keeping me awake at night, so I think I'll have to give it a try.

Tina Lynn said...

Someone recently told me that Stephen King had said in his book, On Writing, that when you sit down the muse shows up. The trick is to sit down.

One thing that I have found most helpful (and it works for me because I'm a scene-sewer) is to write whatever my characters are doing in my head. So, if I'm in chapter 2 but they're screaming about a scene in the far off future, I write that scene. Many times that will "unblock" me.

Emotional/stress-induced blocks can be the worst to overcome, because you don't *feel* like doing anything, even those things that you do truly enjoy. So, here is my advice there. Find the source of the stress and squash it. How? You ask. Take a step toward making the stress go away. Doesn't have to be huge. If it is the lack of job, send out a resume then sit down and write. Send out another. Sit down and write. Stress binds the muse. So, undo those binds and move on.

AshleyTenille said...

Tina - that's so funny, I have that book of Stephen King's! Also, I do that as well - write scenes in my head that are for later on (mainly so I don't forget them.. like if a song inspires a scene, sometimes I will write the whole thing out), I call them 'inserts'. It does help when you're stuck because at least you're getting something down, even if it's for a later time and even if you don't end up using it!
Yes, emotional stress is what's binding me I think... I'm struggling to get through it, but it's hard. Thanks SO much for your helpful comments, I do appreciate it :) :) :)