Monday, January 25, 2010

Fighting The Block

I do, from time to time, face the condition known as writer's block. I don't like to admit this - I've always thought, in my naive and innocent way, that it would never happen to me. I receive a near-constant flow of ideas for stories, so that isn't the problem. All the ideas in the universe can't help me when the writing itself dries up.

Sometimes I just don't feel like it. Sometimes I'm stuck for something to write. I'll have ideas, but which ones do I commit myself to? Writing a novel can be a daunting prospect - you need enthusiasm to get you through to the end. Worrying about whether I'll have that enthusiasm can kill a project before it begins.

The time between finishing a novel and starting a new one is always a hard time for me. My wife, Violet, is used to it now, and she always assures me it will pass. And she's right, bless her. It always does. However, that knowledge does me little good while I'm in the thick of it.

I can also get blocked in the middle of a project. I'll lose some of that valuable enthusiasm, and the writing starts to feel like work. Or I'll get an idea for an even better project, a story so exciting I can't wait to tell it, and the current project starts to look kind of lame in comparison. I'll try to rush myself, to just get this current novel done and over with so I can move on to the better one. Or, I'll toss the current book out (or put it on hold) while I launch into the new, more exciting project. Many writers I know would caution against this. Indeed, for me it's had mixed results. The writing block will be broken and I'll get several chapters into the new project, only to have the same thing happen. And then the old project will start to look really good again. And I'll start to do them both at the same time.

I'm not necessarily saying that jumping between stories is a bad thing. My last three novel projects came together this way, after all. I've found I can pick up from where I left off with no trouble at all, especially if I believe in the story. However, I have found that an awful lot of editing is required to make the first part match up with the second.

Sometimes, the block can come because of outside pressures. A bad job is a creativity killer if you aren't careful. Bad news also puts a dent into creativity. I was halfway through the third Soul Hunters novel when I found out my publisher wasn't interested in picking up the second one. That basically knocked the wind out of Soul Hunter 3's sails - I haven't touched it since.

One way I combat the dreaded block is to launch a bunch of little projects (for example, this very post). That usually stirs up the creative juices, and gets me rolling on my main project again. It doesn't always work, however; in some cases I'll get a bit done on each small project, only to end up blocked on all of them! Usually I'm able to get moving on one eventually, and then the others follow.

Currently, I'm three-quarters of the way through my current novel, A Walk-In To Remember. Things have slowed down considerably; financial pressures are worrying away at me, along with a few professional ones. I've launched a number of smaller blog-post projects (like this one, and a few more reviews over on Biblical Proportions), and several ideas for much more exciting novels are bubbling away in my mind.

But am I worried? Well... kinda, yeah. I'll see it through, however. I always do. After all, I got this thing done, didn't I?

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I don't think there's a writer on the planet that doesn't get blocked!