Writer’s Block. The archnemesis of writers. The destroyer of would-be words. The…uh…….
Oh forget it.
Ok, obviously being blocked is a huge issue…because unless you take the time to resolve it (even if only tempo7rarily), you’re going to be hard-pressed to get anything down. For a writer, that’s like trying to travel the Kalahari with just the skin on your back. Not gonna work!
But…sometimes the block you experience is less of a thick concrete wall topped with barbed wire and more of a boulder to push aside. Either case is frustrating, true. And, rude, Block doesn’t care about your fragile feelings or ambitions (and least of all your ego). Still, determining which it is will help you resolve the issue now and in the future.
You’ve probably heard this many times before, and it’s true: You aren’t alone! Lots of have suffered and/or are suffering from Block, myself included.
Block has strutted around like a peacock far too often in my life. Our first meeting was early on in college–probably as early as my freshman year. It was draining. Confusing. The worst part? It lingered. I felt like I’d lost the ability to write. In some ways, I had; much like when you try to sing two different notes at the same time (spoiler: it ends badly), I kept trying to write imagery–or really anything that I didn’t equate with garbage–and, yeah no, garbage.
I’m going to try to keep this short 🙂 so I won’t go into an epic backstory with college or SPHERES as a whole, but I do want to talk about Whispers & Murmurs.
I’ve voiced my complaints about the elusive Book 1 before: ultra-structured, difficult-to-work-with protagonist, plot holes ad nauseum because one thing leads to another and ::headdesk::. A few short months ago I decided the structure simply wasn’t working. I was way too overzealous and had been trying to do something that, in retrospect, didn’t make sense.
Sure, the idea was pretty brilliant…100k, 32 chapters, 3125 words per chapter, all symbolic to 8 or 1 to go along with 8 books. BUT NO. Gah, no. It may somehow end up that way (I doubt it though -_-), but I’m certainly not going to try be Dante or something and force it to fit when my protag isn’t buying it.
I’m a character-intuitive writer. Nikaiya is about as, if not more, stubborn than me, and I just couldn’t get her to cooperate with me. Block.
Orrrr so I thought. Really, the issue has been less block and more a stunning lack of fluidity and unwillingness to consider alternatives. How embarrassing! I truly believed that my issue was failing to push through. Try harder.
I should have been investigating better. When I stopped fighting how Nikaiya was influencing the story as its narrator, the writing came much more easily. The stream-of-consciousness style lends itself more to poetry than prose. If you want to write prose well, write as if you’re writing poetry. <—Something my writer group has been bringing up often. But I fought being too poetic because I still wanted it to be coherent. And, in fact, not poetry??
That aside, part one of the problem has been resolved. Nikaiya’s thoughts are to be poetry. Haha
Part two: Allowing the derail.
Can I just put it out there that drafting is probably my least favorite part of the writing process? Most people are like, man, I loathe editing. *whine* *glare at editing* *headdesk* *seek distractions*
Me? I LOVE EDITING. Give me something to work with any day over a blank slate! I like to strike a good balance here: mostly plotting, some pantsing. (Ok, like…98% plot, 2% pants and be sad about it and then get over it. But whatevs.)
Not sure why Book 2 was soooo much easier to draft and polish than 1. Kara’s easier to work with? *shrug* But Nikaiya, though quite malleable, is problematic precisely because she can go in many directions at once…but I need to determine which is the right direction at the right interval so as to set up the correct dominoes and domino path. So she’s cooperative, but also not.
Before penning anything unless I’ve just seen it and, in a mad scramble, get it down before I forget, I like to have a good outline where I work through kinks. DERAILING THROWS OFF MAH GROOVE. Guess what Nikaiya’s most favoritest thing is? Yep. Derailing.
So I stopped fighting it and run with it wherever it takes me. Every book, every character, every story is unique. The basics of process can be the same…or they can be so different you question your own sanity/profession/ability.
- Investigate the root of your block! Spare yourself some heartache, love.
- Work with your characters and story, not against them. They’ll let you know if something isn’t working. Either that, or your betas/editor/critters will, and then you’ll (eventually) see it too.
- Let go. If you’re a plotter, allow the derail. See where it takes you and don’t gape at the story in horror and try to make it follow your beautiful outline that you worked studiously to get just so.
Happy writing :)!
Have you experienced writer’s block (or are you now)?? What have you done that helped you get through it? Need some encouragement? Feel free to chat!