For as long as I can remember, I’ve written. Poetry, women’s fiction, romance, whatever pleased my heart flowed through my pen, pencil or the click of my keyboard. But, now, I have my first book—LOVE’S CHANCE—coming out, and writing has suddenly gotten harder. I’ve finally accomplished my dream. So, let’s not mention that, now, there’s a standard out there. Something I have to live up to or at least there will be, and now, there’s the whole what will reviewers and readers say anxiety.
But this post isn’t about any of that. It’s about emotion. Emotional writing blocks. My company has recently gone through cutbacks, the holidays are here, and well, just about any old number of things has halted my writing every other day. How many times have I sat at my computer, and ended up surfing the web verses writing anything worth anything. I have pieces that are in various stages of completion, but little energy to complete them. So, what do you do?
Once, a friend of mine said, “write around the block.” Yeah. Easily said, right? But, not easily done. When I have a block, it affects everything. I don’t ‘feel’ like doing anything. Often, I find myself lumbering around my house from couch to bed and back again eating ice cream, and being extremely unproductive. But, then his words echo in my mind. And, then I get a little spark. A little flicker of light pops in front of my eyes. I make a journal entry. Then, I write a poem. Then, I find myself blogging. And, believe it or not, it builds until I sit and write a scene that makes sense.
It might not be your best work, but there will be words on the paper. This post isn’t about self-editing, but we all know that self-editing is one of an author’s biggest Achilles hills. National Novel Writing Month (Nano) taught me that getting the writing done is the goal. Correcting grammar, and layering in setting, emotion, and action after you get the thoughts on paper can be done on revision. But don’t hinder your flow by critiquing every single word choice or plot point. For God’s sake, don’t beat yourself over the head with a stick. Follow your characters, your muse, and let the ideas flow. Don’t stifle them.
Holidays are a time of year, when so many of us reflect upon the year that’s ending, and we place such high expectations on ourselves for the year ahead, that we feel unsuccessful because we believe we fell short. Don’t look at what you didn’t achieve, look at what you did. If you set goals, I am certain you accomplished something on your checklist. Look at it. Mark it off. Feel good about what you did do, and if there’s something you didn’t complete, then begin a new list to get you to a point of success for that goal.
Start a new project. I’ve found this to be a great point of success. Now, if I find myself in a situation where nothing I do works, then I will sit that project to the side, and do something else. I follow the emotion that’s blocking me. If I’m sad, and I can’t do happy, then I write sad. If I’m in love, and I can’t do breakup, then I do love. But there are so many things that can put me in the right mindset: music, movies, TV. Have you ever tried making a soundtrack? Remember when you were in high school or college, and you made that perfect CD for the man or woman of your dreams? Do that for your hero or heroine.
While living in Pennsylvania, I played a lot of ‘what if’ games. Those games became LOVE’S CHANCE.
I had a lot of time on my hands between rock painting, shopping, and endless movie watching. I’d sit at food courts at area malls, and write stories to the people walking past me. They had no idea what my little pad and pencil were for. I attended some of the functions in my story, and observed. I interviewed co-workers and friends. I became Sinclair Mosley.
Think about your characters. What would he or she do to get through what you’re feeling? Now, write it. Your personal situation just became a plot point. For a story I’m writing now, my heroine is going through a lot of what I personally am living. Isn’t that one of the reasons we’re writers, anyway, to be able to tell stories that draws our readers into the world we’ve created? The emotions we experience help to create that world. If we can’t write through what we feel or use it how can we ever pull the reader into our worlds? How many times have you heard that comics laugh at their pain? How many can you count on your hand that you’ve heard were suffering some great pain, you’ve read articles or heard stories about their lives and thought…oh my god. But what did they do? They kept working. They used it. And, we have to do the same.
Don’t let emotion become a road block. Let it become your fuel.