We’ve all heard of it. That dreaded, awful thing that keeps us writers awake at night, biting down our nails and staring into blank screens. Writer’s Block. *shudder*
I’ll admit, I kinda wondered what the fuss was about. Was it even really real? Well, yes. I can confirm that it is real, and it sucks. Book Three has always been a bit of a pressure cooker for me. For some reason, in my mind, it sticks out as the book that defines your career. If you can write three good books that sell, then you’re well on your way. Talk about pressure!
For me, the dreaded WB didn’t come at the start. In fact, I was plodding along rather nicely. Until I got to a point where I just didn’t know how to proceed. At first I thought it was a research thing, so I turned to that age old writer’s best friend: Procrastination. I literally spent hours online, delving into the deepest corners of the internet, canvassing friends who could help, and so on. And the hump was jumped, a little. Until I came to the next one. Then I decided that I didn’t like one of the characters. They were a bit…useless. Not pulling their weight. They had to go. And so I deleted them, rewriting half the story in the process. Another hump jumped. And then came the next.
And it just. wouldn’t. move.
I’d got myself into a nice rhythm, sitting in my local cafe for hours and writing. My word count was rising. And suddenly I found myself unable to write another single word. What if that was it? What if my writing career was over already?
What was the problem? Was it that the book was already far too long and only half way through? Was it that the story was moving too slowly? Was it that I didn’t like yet another character? It was all these things and more. I had no official deadline but, as we all know, we need something called money to live and to get money I need to write a book…and so on. I spent days – literally whole days – talking about the plot, thinking about the plot, re-plotting and doing even more re-plotting. It all lead nowhere. For the first time ever, I just had no more words to write and I felt like I was driving myself nuts with it. And so, I made a big decision. I decided to scrap it. 60,000 words – gone. Instead, something else took its place. A kernel of an idea, talked through with my partner to flesh it out a little, and then I went and sat by myself and wrote out a plot.
Luckily for me, I have a fantastic agent, and when I called him for advice, he was right behind me. He advised me to take two weeks off and give my brain a rest. Those two weeks are almost up and, guess what? I cannot WAIT to get writing again. I know these characters so much more than I think I’ve ever known any of my characters before. I know the plot. I can smell the air they’re breathing in and I’m itching to get on with it. I’ve got three days left until my ‘holiday’ is over and it means I can finish some of the other projects I’ve got going on in my life. So, what’s going to happen with the 60,000 word project I stopped? Well, I’ve parked it. I really hope that it’ll get finished, one day. It’s an important story that I think needs to be told, but maybe right now isn’t the time to do it.
Being a writer is hard. Really hard. It’s solitary and nobody can help to make sense of the things going on in your head, no matter how much you talk it out. I’m lucky I’ve got fans who simply say ‘I want to read your next book but take your time’ when they ask when it’ll come out and I can only tell them ‘at some point in the next year.’ I’m lucky I have fabulous writer friends who are there to listen. I’m lucky I’ve stopped taking so much notice of other writers who seem to drop an intimidatingly high word count every day because it simply does not matter.
I’ve come to realise that writing is like a living, breathing thing. It can’t be controlled. And all the will in the world won’t make the words come out if they’re not meant to be spoken.