Currently, I’m working on self-publishing my first book and I’m in the process of writing additional books that are included in the series.
Writer’s Block is something we’ve all heard of. You’re stuck. You don’t know where to go with the story. The characters aren’t doing what you want them to do.
I’ve experienced this and though it’s never fun, it is very real. But, sometimes I wonder, is it writer’s block, or am I just unmotivated?
The reason I wonder this is because when I’m not writing, it’s not because I don’t know what happens next in the story, or what the characters need me to write, it’s because sometimes I simply want to be lazy. But recently that laziness has been earned.
As I mentioned, I’m getting ready to self-publish my first book. As I’m putting the finishing touches on that, I delved into an intense edit of my second book. On top of all that, I recently lost my job.
Minus the money factor (that damn money!), I’ve loved being home and having the freedom to write all day. As soon as the layoff happened, I jumped in on the edit and gave it my all. My editor was loving my motivation. She wanted to read the book first to get a feel of the story and where it goes before she took the reigns and had fun with her red pen. (She really loves her red pen, by the way.) It’s very motivating to have someone reading your work as you go along. It really pushes me to finish.
Well, I finished my edit of my second book, although it’s nowhere near ready, there will be so much more work on the horizon. And I handed off my first book to be formatted to print, so what was I to do? It’s not like I don’t have plenty to keep me busy, but once I reached a stopping point and I actually stopped, I realized something:
Writing is extremely emotional. I’ll sit here with my fingers flying over the keys and tears streaming down my face at times. Other times I have a scowl in place because I’m angry at the situation that’s being created, or I’ll giggle like a loon and make my family wonder if I need a mental evaluation. But, something I don’t think people take into consideration is how taxing it can be. I certainly never knew!
I have to feel good when I’m writing. If I’m bored and trudging through a chapter, I believe that will come across when someone reads it. The flow of the story has to be there, the emotion from the characters has to be there, even if it’s a simple moment of sharing coffee in the morning. One of my favorite writing quotes is, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I love that quote and believe it to be true. If it touches me, it will touch the reader. If it bores me, it will bore the reader.
Sometimes I need a day or two, sometimes more. But this was turning into weeks. Weeks of me staring at a chapter and changing a word here and there, then justifying my time with playing Bejeweled or My Vegas Slots on Facebook, claiming that would clear my mind.
Since I’ve started writing, I’ve always lived by this rule: Ass in chair – write. Sometimes when I do this my writing resembles that scene from the movie Misery where he’s trapped with a psycho fan and he can’t get away:
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, wrote Paul Sheldon as he emoted his frustration at being held captive by Annie Wilkes. I get it, Paul. I totally get it. (Sidebar, I love this movie and must watch it again soon!)
I start to freak out when I take breaks. I worry that my creativity is gone forever (I’m really good at worrying), I get frustrated with myself, I let my brain become inundated with every single doubt I’m sure every single writer has ever had.
So, what did I do to try to get my mojo back?
- I started to read a book, but that didn’t help. When I get in these droughts, all I do is compare my writing to other writers and nothing good comes from that.
- I got out of the house. Since I’ve been unemployed, I’ve become reclusive and it’s not always a good thing. Getting out of the house helps clear the mind.
- I worked out. The treadmill does wonders for helping me find the words I’m looking for.
- I drank wine. A lot of it. Another quote I love: “Write drunk, edit sober.” I’ve written some of my best stuff tipsy. (Not all of it, so don’t judge!)
- I took a walk with my daughter.
- I talked about it. Endlessly. To both of my daughters and my husband. I emailed my woes to a friend of mine. They all assured me I would find it.
- I giggled. A lot. My oldest daughter has Fridays off from college. This past Friday, she and I walked to the store, made lunch together and laughed about everything and nothing. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
- I finally sat my butt down and wrote.
- And wrote and wrote and wrote.
Just like everyone told me it would, and like I believed deep down in my heart, my mojo came back.
I realize I never answered the question: was it writer’s block or was I unmotivated? It could have been either one, so I honestly don’t know. What I do know is, it’s OK to take a break. As I’m learning along this crazy road, some of these breaks are going to take longer than others. This was a long one. I didn’t like it, but it’s over. Eventually I found the words and the rhythm of the story again and wondered why they were ever lost.
Now I have to stop rambling and get back to writing, I have characters waiting for me to finish their chapter!