I’m always curious about what each person labels writer’s block. I’ve never really focused on the phenomenon before. Sure, some days were better than others when it came to writing, but on those days where it didn’t flow, I never panicked. There was always the next day. As long as I was making weekly progress, all was good. Last year, between January and May, I wrote 180K words. Life was good. Every time I had a “block” it wasn’t because I didn’t have ideas… it was because I was untangling plot threads and thinking through implications on how I wanted to craft a situation, and what would be the 2nd and 3rd order effects if I had a scene happened now or delayed it until later. Usually, those blocks could be resolved by going for a 3 to 5 mile run on a sunny cool morning.
Then I finished The Tides of Artalon, capstone of the When Dragons Die trilogy. Between Tides and Covenant, the prior book, I’d written 320K words in 12 months. Now, that may not sound impressive to you full-time writers. But I’m not a full time writer; I have a day job. So I never really stressed about writer’s block because things had just been flowing so well overall.
Then this summer hit. As I said, I finished Tides and I felt like I’d crossed the end of a marathon. There was more work to do in getting Tides ready for release, which included revisions, and back and forth with the editor (thanks Tammy!). In the midst of this, I moved out of state and changed jobs. I opened a new document to start the prequel, Myth and Incarnation, and thought all was going well. But after a few months, I realized I’d only written a few thousand words. Things weren’t moving along at all, and I’d allowed my focus to drift.
Whether it was the new job and living environment, social events after work, or simply finding a new hobby like drawing, it seemed that the last thing I wanted to do when I came home was open the word processor and type a few sentences. I kept putting it off… there’s always tomorrow. There’s always next week. I had a complete trilogy now, and there was no rush to get the next part of the story out. The readers would be happy, and I deserved some time off.
Time off is great… but the longer that went, the more I realized some of my vision started to blur. I wasn’t sure on all the details that I wanted to include in the new book. Most of my writing time became rereading and reviewing what I’d written so far, and my notes. Thus, very little content flowed.
Finally, the flow has come again. I just finished (first draft) Part 1 of Myth and Incarnation, and released it to my beta readers. I’m no longer feeling the pull to do anything BUT write when I sit down. The word processor calls to me more strongly than the digital painting table, or Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft.
I guess that was a form of writer’s block. Thankfully I don’t face the stress of having to produce every week for a paycheck. (And oh how I wish I faced that stress, for that would mean I’d be a full-time writer; alas, I am not). I guess we all need time to recharge.
One of the things I heard on a writer’s podcast Writing Excuses (I think) was a goal to write two sentences every day. That’s all. The idea is, two sentences might be enough to unstick a block, and if you write more, that’s great. If you only write two, then that’s all you need. (Incidentally, whether I heard it on that podcast or elsewhere, Writing Excuses is a must-listen podcast for any aspiring author).
So for now, I’ll ride the rising tide of “the flow”… but when that crests, I’ll remember, “Two sentences… that’s all I need for now.” Better that than fail to engage the material and let the ideas grow stale.
Cheers all and until next week!