I knew I had a week-long audit at my day job, had been dreading it for weeks because it would mean longer hours away from home and long stretches of non-computer time. Turns out it might have happened at an opportune time with fanfiction.net remaining broken for the entire stretch of my audit. I do have one or two chapters that I could publish if I had the means to publish, which is frustrating enough, but if I had continued to stew and to write this entire week without an outlet, well, there may have been some trouble for someone, somewhere. (My liver, perhaps?)
I know many of us have followed stories only to see them whither on the vine or even worse (or maybe this point is debatable), we have experienced a drought of stories where it seems that no one is writing at all. Usually, when a writer resurfaces we hear some of the same reasons (I won't call them excuses because that word has a bad rap), you know them: DARTH Real Life is probably on top, computer issues has made a good show as well, and then there is the far more dangerous, elusive and annoying villain called Writer's Block.
As frustrating as all these things can be, they do usually bow to the axiom of: This too shall pass. There are many facets of each that are probably out of our control. Although, writer’s block is probably the most trying because we feel that we should be able to control our own minds. With writer’s block we tend to lay (I don’t care if this isn’t the write tense of lay, lie or laid – that’s my weakest beta point – ask Zyra!) the blame on ourselves and neglect to look outward to external sources.
For me, I have learned that it is mostly external sources that will trigger a bout of writer’s block. The main culprit? I cannot write when I am fighting with my husband. Laugh all you want, but this has actually been a really good thing for our marriage. I am much more inclined to accept and offer the olive branch if it means that Han and Leia will start talking to me again as well!
I also don’t do well if I sit down specifically to write. Sounds weird, I know. But most of my stories come to me while driving and most tiresomely, while trying to fall asleep or even in dreams that will wake me up at night. I had never used the “Voice Memo” feature on my iPhone before I started writing fanfiction. Now it is on the front page of my applications so I can ramble incoherent conversation into it and go back to sleep.
One thing that I think I have gotten over is that initial fear to just write. That’s probably the biggest obstacle for a new writer. Self-doubt and self-criticism is an ugly, ugly thing. If you want to write, WRITE. It really is as easy as that. Once you have words on paper it is much, much easier to edit and refine (and share). It’s kinda hard to edit a blank page.
So, I guess I oughta wrap it up here. I’ll just throw some things out there that have helped me when my typing fingers freeze up. First thing I do is step away from the computer, or at least from my story. A little break is always better than trying to force something that isn’t coming.
Second, check in with Darth Real Life, chances are something else may be weighing on your mind that is preventing you from writing, this could be as easy as an empty stomach or, well, some not-so-easy things that I don’t feel qualified to offer advice for.
I also like to read a book or a story; someone else’s words can be diverting and inspirational. This is also where a friend can come in handy. Talking about your story with someone and sharing your ideas or road blocks can be really helpful. Sometimes one word or sentence from a counterpart can get your mind spinning in the right direction again.
Finally, if you feel you are at your wit’s end, just write anything. Again, just getting words down on paper, providing yourself a target to shoot darts at can be helpful. Just letting a few seemingly incoherent words or thoughts on paper can free up the log jam of your thoughts.
Oh, and if you are like me, make up with your hubbie or girlfriend, or significant other. Arguing does not help you write arguments (at least not me) and especially doesn't help you write those mushy love scenes that we all love! :-)
"If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." ~Van Gogh (same applies to writing…)