I’ve been writing for decades. Not once had I experienced any kind of mental brick wall. What was this awful spectre tormenting writers? Well, I recently took a week off writing (put my first-draft to one side) to focus on editing and marketing my latest releases. No big deal, I’ve done it before. But when I returned to my first-draft, something peculiar happened. I wrote a few lines. I deleted them. I reread the last few chapters. Wrote another few lines, and deleted those. I spent 45 minutes writing two paragraphs (I usually write 1500wds every two hours) – and I deleted them.
A mild sense of panic set in. What was going on? Why couldn’t I write? I stared at my laptop, fingers poised over the keys, and felt my pulse begin to race. I couldn’t find my ‘zone’. Nothing had changed around me. I hadn’t undergone any dramatic life changes. It was just another night to write, but the words wouldn’t come, and the characters wouldn’t talk to me.
Wow, I thought, this is writer’s block. Palms sweaty, I sat back and examined what was going on. One full length novel published, a short story published, the second in a series to be published in a few weeks – the third in the series lodged in my head. The pressure was on. I have readers waiting for these books. They’re paying their hard earned cash to read the stories that spring from my imagination. I have to get it right.
Pressure. Expectations. Responsibility.
The doubts were creeping in. The weight of expectation pushing down on me. My muse, under all that weight, had run for the hills – and I couldn’t blame her.
It’s only now, a few days later, that I’ve managed to take stock of the situation, sat myself down, and given myself a good talking to, that I feel as though I have some direction again. But I can tell you, a writer lives and breaths writing, and when it won’t come, it’s terrifying; as though the light has gone out at the end of the tunnel, and you’re left in the dark. Pretty heavy stuff.
When the pressure is on, there’s nobody there to help write that first draft. No-one can put the words in my head, or type it for me. It’s just little ol’ me, my laptop, and iTunes. Sure, I can bounce ideas around the writers group, but it all boils down to my fingertips – the same as all writers everywhere.
How did I beat it? Well, technically, I haven’t, not yet, but I’m on the right track. My draft was wandering. I suspect I need to scrap 15k words. In my gut, the story isn’t right and my gut knows more than I do. I’ve outlined again and that light at the end of the tunnel is back, albeit a flickering candle flame instead of blinding daylight.
So, I suppose I can count myself among the writers who have suffered this peculiar attack and like brothers-in-arms we stand together.
I’d love to hear from others that have experienced writer’s block and how you reacted to it. Did you recognise it for what it was? Were you like me, and have never experienced it? Comment below 🙂