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Writer’s Block.

November 24, 2005

There was a span of nearly a year where I could knock out a chapter in two to three weeks.  Where, on occaision, I would put down ten, fifteen, even seventeen pages.

Now?  Let me put it this way.  I’ve been trying to start Chapter XIV since September.  Now that it’s Thanksgiving, know how far I’ve gotten?  Pretty much nowhere.

What happened?  What changed?

In a word – writer’s block (okay, that’s two words).  Somehow, I’ve managed to go on denying it to myself for more than a year now.  Telling myself "no, it’s just this section" or "once I get to the next chapter…"  Right.  I told myself that after Chapter XII.  And after Chapter XIII.  I told myself that writer’s block just stopped people…just froze them.  I told myself it applied to people who couldn’t think of where to take the story next, of what to write.  So, of course, it couldn’t apply to me – because I’ve never lost sight of where the story is headed.  Of course…I’m writing historical fiction…based upon actual events…

Last night was the breaking point.  After months of denying writer’s block, or telling myself it is something that afflicts "other people", that couldn’t possibly afflict me, I decided to find out more about it.

"You want to write but you can’t. You have this piece you desperately
want to get out, but, every time you sit down to it, you totally freeze.
Or you can only write crap. Or you never seem to sit down to it at all
because there’s always a kitchen to tidy or a call you have to make and
then the kids come home or you’re too tired and somehow, you just never
make it to the keyboard.

Or maybe you’re the opposite — you’ve always been prolific, churning
out one piece after another but now, just at the point where everything
should be flowing smoothly, it seems as though the well has dried right
up."

I think both of those pretty fairly describe my current situation.  I still have the passion.  Story ideas and random thoughts about this character or that event or this minor detail still zip through my head on a regular basis.  Hell, the story even finds its way into my dreams every so often.  I.  Just.  Can’t.  Write.

But now that I know what it is…now that I can admit what it is…I have something that I can focus my energies against.

What does this mean?  Am I going to stop writing?  The short answer is no, most certainly not.  The longer answer is that I might have to put my writing aside while I sort myself out.  I do not yet know what that will entail.  Writing exercises, perhaps.  Or long walks along the greenbelt.  Or "talking about my feelings".  It might also mean revisiting past chapters, where my problems began.  Which would not be so bad – I know I will be revisiting Chapters XII and XIII at some point anyway.  Why not sooner rather than later?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink
    November 24, 2005 3:01 pm

    Identifying the problem has to be a good first step to finding a solution. I hope it passes quickly.

  2. November 27, 2005 10:09 pm

    I don’t know a lot about writer’s block as a phenomenon, and I’m not even sure that stepping away from the chapter is the best thing, in case you find yourself not in the least desperate to return to it.

    However if YOU DO step away from the current chapter, I wouldn’t think spending time going over the earlier chapters is the ticket. You run the risk of the story becoming stale when you go over and over the same old material. (I realize it is all new material for your would-be readers, but I imagine, for you, that material from earlier must seem old)

    I wish you the best of luck with it. The end of the book is near… I know it’s easier said than done, but if I were you I would try and churn out the last little bit; get a full rough draft complete, and then fill in or rearrange any bits you may feel are a bit uninspired…namely the chapter you are working on.

    You’ll get through it mi amigo.

  3. November 28, 2005 6:54 am

    Mark – you’re right, of course.

    I wrote this post in the heat of the moment, and was more throwing ideas out than anything else.

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