Recently I have taken some time off from my little rambling blog of thoughts, angers, frustrations, lessons, and whatnot. First, was some much needed downtime with my wife to recharge life. It was great beyond words. My most recent break from blogging was to work on my book. I needed to devote some serious time and effort into the project. A few side projects of short fiction from time to time to break the monotony but overall, time was spent completely focusing on my book.
Everything was going great. A few chapters flowed with such ease that I became cocky. I edited some of what I wrote. Had a few online readers beta read some of it, with happy results. Minor tweaks and I was happy. Others were happy.
Back to writing, another chapter completed with a great sense of accomplishment. Rewrote a few items in my outline. Moved some things around. Created some new hooks and twists. Satisfied with what I was imagining I went back to writing.
Then the words stopped. Nothing worked. I stared blankly at the screen, or the screen. My brain was paralyzed. My imagination was stunted. I grew agitated. I tried to write again. I forced the words onto the screen. I literally made myself write more. I urged my fingers to dance across the keyboard, but the dance was a spastic jerking motion, not the fluid waltz of the previous week. The words didn’t make sense. My voice was lost. My evil twin had taken over and was slowly destroying my book with its chaos.
I set about to find a cure for this ailment. Finally, I overcame my demon, set my evil twin afire and cast him back into the depths from which he rose. Now, in part as a public service to others who might suffer as I did, but also as a future reminder to myself of what helped me be me again, here are the things I did to help the words flow again.
When you can’t write right… WRITE MORE!
As silly as that sounds it actually worked. The words would not translate to page so I forced them. I wrote want I wanted to write. It sounded stupid. So I erased and started writing again. I spiraled into this endless loop of write, erase, write, erase, write, erase. I was frustrated beyond belief but I discovered each time the writing became easier, the words flowed easier. Each writing was better than the last. Most importantly, as each writing became better my confidence returned. Loss of confidence is the greatest killer for creativity.
When writing is stuck… READ!
I grabbed a novel….or two. I read short stories. As I read everything I dissected what I read. I tried to see what worked, what didn’t. What parts I loved, what parts I hated. I read in my genre, I read outside my genre. I devoured everything I could to find the spark I lost. With each story my eyes fed on, my brain glimmered with hints of creative juices. I jotted ideas down as they popped into my mushy pink mass of brain. I read and decided how I would end the book before getting there. I tried to create my own plot twists for other people’s stories. I read then when finished looked at my own notes, my scribblings, my own writing. I was satisfied that I wasn’t horrible. I was simply stuck. If these people could write… so could I. As I read more my confidence returned.
When you can’t figure out how to write… DRINK!
Ok, this one might not work for everyone but it works for me. Perhaps I should modify drink. But I enjoy a good whiskey. What I actually mean is, go out, relax, get away from writing and recharge your brain. Have fun with others. NOT ONLINE! The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. Socializing with others is the greatest benefit of being a living being. Writing is very lonely work. You hide yourself away in a darkened area with a computer, or pen and pad, and spill your brain onto the page. But you do all this alone. Sure you need others to be successful, you need editors and agents and publishers and beta readers and readers but that is after. The writing is alone. Lonely. You and your thoughts. And for many, myself included, you are your greatest enemy. If the words stop flowing then you have no one to turn to, no one to seek aid, no one to blame….but yourself. And the confidence in your abilities slowly eek away down the drain of self-doubt. Socialize with others and talk about stupid things, talk about great things, talk about movies and world domination. Whatever you do find your solace in a social activity. I found myself more confident, more energized and ready to write again.
The words have returned for me. The blog has returned. I will find a way to continue both. Perhaps whiskey will help me with that too.