Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Writer's Block

I'm eyeball deep in work right now, revisions to Tiger Eyes and Devil in Disguise are coming along very nicely and the first drafts of Angel of Darkness and Dance with the Devil are also coming along very nicely. And that's a load off my mind, because new ideas are still coming, different from the current ideas, and I think that's due, in part, to being so productive.

This time last year, I was stalled out on one of my WIP (I can't quite remember if it was TE or DID, but it was one of them) and it was a pretty scary thing for me. I've always felt the need to write, always had a story of some sort simmering in the back of my mind. Well, this time last year, it felt like that well had finally dried up and that's a pretty frightening prospect for a writer.

But then NaNoWriMo came around and I signed up for it. I had no idea what I was going to work on, and it didn't matter. This wasn't necessarily going to be a story for anyone else's eyes but my own. It didn't have to be perfect. It just had to be 50k words in 30 days.

With the pressure off, the all-powerful muse showed up. I wrote two stories, the total combined word count putting me over the 50k mark. After NaNo ended, not only did I have the feeling of accomplishment at having met the challenge, I had those stories percolating in the back of my mind again.

If you'd asked me last year, I'd have said I had writer's block. Now, I don't know if I even believe in writer's block. For me, I was getting too rigid in my planning stages. I tried to outline the entire book. Tried to know every little nugget of info about my characters. It worked for getting to know the characters, but it totally killed any interest I had in writing about them. Turns out, I need to know very little about them in order to tell their stories. I get to know them as I write, not before. If I know too much about any part of the book, the story dies on me and I find myself struggling to make things fit where my outline said they should, instead of letting them unfold as they needed to throughout the story.

So, if there is such a thing as writer's block, the cure then is to write. Write whatever you want, no matter how good or how crappy it is. Just yesterday, I wrote a love scene, about 1.5k words and, within a few minutes of finishing it, I cut it right back out. It didn't fit. But, what it did do was get me through a sagging spot in the middle of the book. So, it took me to the next scene, which was actually the scene I needed instead of the love scene. A major turning point was reached, and the love scene that ultimately proved unnecessary at that point in the story, was relegated to my edits file. I'll probably put it back in later (it was a good, steamy scene and I liked it, it just didn't work at that point in the story. It was filler then, as opposed to moving the story forward, like it will later on.)

I try not to stress over making each word perfect now. The junk can stay as long as it needs to, but I know that the right words, the right scene, will come eventually. It may not happen when I'm actively revising - but could pop into my head as I drift off to sleep - but it will happen. I don't even need to know the ins and outs of my main characters at first. I learn about them as they come alive (realized one of my heroes was actually married before he met the heroine this way.) In doing so, writing's become fun for me again as well. And that sends the muse into overdrive and kicks writer's block clear to the curb.


Lori W. said...

"So, if there is such a thing as writer's block, the cure then is to write."

Quoted for truth.

I don't believe in writer's block, personally...slumps? slowdowns? difficulties? Heck yeah. Writer's block? No way.

Excellent blog post. :)

Kim said...

Thanks - I have to give you and SP props since you both gave me the idea! I like that theory rather than the one that says, "I'm stuck, so I'll walk away and maybe I'll go back, maybe I won't."