Photo courtesy of Mario Azzi from Unsplash.com
Don’t Force It
Is writer’s block a myth?
Some say it is. Others argue that after multiple days of staring at a page with no words popping into your head, writers’ block is not only real - it’s a living, breathing thing. I’m struggling with words for Novel X right now.
Over the past week, I sit down to write, my fingers hover over the keyboard, and I type… nothing. No words. Emma is waiting for me and I can’t give her anything. The first day my mind went blank, early last week, I thought, maybe today is just not a good day. The words just aren’t there. Don’t force it.
The next day, same thing. Don’t force it.
The day after that, I sat for a good forty-five minutes and typed nothing. Don’t force it.
Something was wrong. My writing routine starts by 5 AM. I shoot for 4:30 AM, but if I start by 5, I can get a solid 3 – 6 pages knocked out before everyone else gets up. It’s an effective routine and has always worked for me. Hitting a rut is not uncommon and typically, I can just write through it while sipping my coffee.
But this is different – I really am stuck. After nearly two weeks, I have to acknowledge something is wrong.
My wife and I took a trip down to Brown County, Indiana a few weekends ago with her cousin and during that time, I gave this issue serious thought. Finally, it hit me.
I’ve lost my way in the story. Emma is no longer telling it. I, the writer, am starting to intrude too often, forcing a vision of what I think Emma should be doing. Creating scenes, thinking of exciting things, because damn it, no one wants to read about Emma in the direction she’s going if I let her tell it.
So I intervened. And now I’m blocked.
You see, reader, I’m becoming genuinely afraid for Emma. She’s starting to do things I didn’t envision her doing. After I explained this issue to a good friend of mine, he told me outright, you can’t put her in a maze from which there is no escape. I’d given her nothing but barriers to overcome and I’m not giving her any lifelines, no hope.
I’ve put my girl into a no-win situation by trying to create interesting stuff for her to experience. By doing so, I’ve inadvertently created a world she can’t navigate. She’s fragile and she’s trying to cope with trauma most of us can’t imagine. And here I am blocking every possible escape. I’ve trapped her!
I’m convinced that this is what led to my lack of words; my blankness. The story is no longer authentic. No longer genuine. I’m just making stuff up and not letting her lead. Thus, I’m losing my motivation to write it. Losing the enthusiasm. The story no longer feels like a good story.
Thing is, this has happened to me with other books. Sometimes the story dies forever. It just withers away and what once sounded like a great idea starts to sound silly until finally I stop. But sometimes, I plow through it, and the book gets written.
I will not give up on Novel X. I will not give up on Emma.
I’m taking my friend’s advice (yes, Mike, that day we had lunch at the Red Sparrow). I need to get back to basics and let Emma show me her story. Just type one word after another. It’s the only way to get it done.
Thank you for putting up with me on this rant. Perhaps it’s more venting than anything.
Never underestimate the power of venting.
Do I believe writer’s block is a myth? Yes, my friends, I’m afraid I do. That’s not to say you can’t get blocked, but like anything in life, you have to work through it, around it, and figure it out. Don’t force it is bullshit. Because forcing it is exactly what you have to do. The words will not always come easy.
I’ll get through this. I made a promise to you that I’d deliver this book... I’ll keep that promise.