Sunday, April 27, 2014

Writer's Block and Distractions

At some point every writer has to deal with the dreaded Writer's Block.  Truthfully, I believe that everyone, writers and non-writers alike, deal with some form of Writer's Block.   Think about  it as any task or project  that you just couldn't figure out where to begin.  Likewise, it's the same when you reach a point where you just desperately want to finish, yet can't seem to find that last bit of energy to keep giving the project 110% of your best efforts.  That's where I find myself as I'm starting on the sequel to "Of Murder and Monsters."  I know where I want to go, the question I found myself asking (while banging my head on my desk) was "where do I start?"

It's hard not to lose faith when this happens.  It becomes easier once you realize that inspiration comes in different ways.  Sometimes, we get the answer to our Writer's Block problem and don't even realize it until much later.  Today, I was struggling with figuring out how to begin the second book.  Flashbacks, while effective when used properly, just didn't feel right.  Putting together a series of short summations that advanced the plot ahead by a few weeks/months felt like I was just cheating the reader.  Something that my wife said to me weeks ago finally struck the right chord that chipped a huge corner off of my Writer's Block.  The gist of her comment/advice was simple: just pick up right where the first book ended.  Genius!  From that simple point, I should be able to get back into the flow of creativity and the words would practically jumped onto the page, right?  Not quite.

Distractions can also derail the creative process. All of the creativity in the world won't help if you can't focus your talent/effort.  I've tried hammering away on my laptop in the living room while the family watched some age-appropriate chick-flick/school musical movie to little avail.  Likewise, writing and wrangling a toddler who's equal parts tom girl and prissy princess tend not to work out well- at least not simultaneously.  Trying to write while at work (during a lunch break, of course) is never a good idea for all sorts of reasons.  What I've learned is that when it comes to writing you have to be selfish.  You have to carve out your own place to write in peace and quiet.  I'm still working on getting the wife to agree to soundproofing the home office and putting locks on the inside of the door.

All kidding aside, Writer's Block and distractions are probably the two biggest things that can derail making progress on a manuscript.  Neither are fun and both will happen more often than you'd want.  It's part of the process and one that just has to be accepted.  The key, I've found, is not to give in to discouragement.  Sometimes I just have to set the keyboard aside, clear my head and then come back to give it another try. Speaking of which, it's time for me to get back to work on the second book.


PsychicWitness said...

I definitely struggle with distraction. I don't set aside nearly enough time to write. I need to be more selfish I think. But without wanting to seem like I'm making excuses, I have so much stress going on I'm my life right now, when I DO get time to write, I often prefer just relaxing with a good book, watching TV, or catching up online! I'm hoping by the middle of May one thing will be done with which *hopefully* will give me more time to write.

R. Q. Garcia said...

PsychicWitness, I'm with you when it comes to having stress piled so high you can't see the top of the mountain peak. Likewise, it's hard to be selfish for exactly the reasons you just mentioned. There's been plenty of times I wanted to do the same thing (i.e. kick back, relax, read someone else's book, etc). Hell, there have been days/weeks were I DID do exactly that. But the book won't write itself and it if it doesn't get written then the story doesn't get told or sold. So I had to start retooling my mind to remember why I started writing in the first place: because storytelling makes me happy. This passion is hard work, but it's also GREAT stress relief. I started to hit some very productive strides when I made myself sit down for no less than 30 minutes, no more than 90 minutes, at time. It helped keep my mind from wandering and I remember reading somewhere that people tend to start to lose focus on their task after about 90 minutes. I hope this helps and that May brings you much progress.