For years, I’ve been one of those admittedly annoying writers who denied the existence of true writer’s block. I’ve always gotten tons of ideas for books and stories and my “quick tip” for conquering writer’s block was just to apply some BICFOK (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard) since writer’s block was essentially just a little bit of doubt we can totally power through. Rah!
But then I finally hit THE WALL. And I hit it hard.
I had a book I thought would be a fun easy write – a “palette cleanser” from the slightly heavier and more dramatic tomes I’d been tackling of late. I budgeted my time. I sat my butt down, I consulted my outline (since OF COURSE I’m a control-freak plotter), and I applied fingers to keyboard to do my allotted pages per day.
I proceeded to suffer through 124 pages of forcing words out of my brain and onto the page. I procrastinated. I worked on other projects. I brainstormed other books that aren’t even on the horizon. I tried to do anything but work on The Book of Pain* (*not its real title).
I knew I had a problem. And it was a big problem that seriously jeopardized this book’s deadline and very existence – this supposedly fun, easy to write, no problemo, happy happy joy joy book.
Aha!! Perhaps that WAS the problem. By thinking this fun book would be fun to write, I didn’t give it the time, attention, and care it needed. I’d written a quick outline and was trying to FORCE my characters to act it out. And my characters were saying “hell no.” Nay, they were shouting it from the rooftops!
I should always know to trust my creative gut, but I just wasn’t listening closely enough to it. Once I finally realized there was an actual problem that couldn’t be powered through, I stopped forcing the writing. Really, at the end of the day, the actually writing part of writing is not the be all, end all. The staring at the wall, sketching and doodling in a notebook, and letting the creative inspiration flow… that is what I was repressing and that is what I needed to do to figure this out. So I let the brainstorming and pre-writing flow. And finally, after days upon days of this, things began to click.
Bad news: I had to throw out 114 of those 124 pages I’d already written. *cries*
Good news: I was back on track and the writing had begun to flow again.
What I’ve learned about writer’s block through this process is that it most certainly DOES exist. Writer’s block can be a sign from your subconscious that you’re on the wrong road, something is broken and needs to be fixed, and you would be very wise to take a step back and try to look at your story and characters objectively and make sure it works. Does your character have GMC (Goal, motivation, and conflict) for the arc of the novel? Does she have it in EVERY scene? Without those building blocks, you might be in trouble.
And, alas, some books just seem to defy outlining. I really love a road map, but some characters are more stubborn than others. Sometimes you need to sit back and let them take over (It won’t be like the Exorcist, I promise!) and drive the car.
Trust the process, trust yourself as a writer, and when your story finally clicks into place you will know it.
My latest release is BLED & BREAKFAST, the 2nd Immortality Bites Mystery, published by Signet Obsidian. (Note: Happily, this is NOT the book that gave me writer’s block!)
Right after their wedding in Las Vegas, Sarah and Thierry get their next assignment: Three vampires have gone missing in Salem, Massachusetts, and they need to find out why. Their contact in Salem turns out to be a local lothario with a penchant for witches, but before he can help them, he suddenly goes up in smoke—leaving behind nothing but a stain on the ground and a seemingly impossible mystery.
Did a witchy ex-mistress cast a deadly spell, or is there something even more sinister happening to the vampires of Salem? Getting to the truth may require raising the undead, with a little help from the owners of a vampire-friendly bed and breakfast. But uncovering Salem’s darkest secrets may drag some of Thierry’s own past into the light.
Read an excerpt for BLED & BREAKFAST and check out my other books on www.michellerowen.com!