Thursday, March 27, 2014
Finally, it’s spring! Theoretically. This week we had a snowstorm, icy roads and record low overnight temps. It’s supposed to nudge into the 60s this weekend, so spring’s at least trying to get here.
The Susquehanna River’s not the only thing that’s finally thawing out. The writer’s block that’s been with me for most of last year is breaking up at last. Remember those three-four stories I was bouncing around between? One of them finally stuck. I’ve been working on it steadily and inspiration is starting to pick up speed. If I’m not careful, I could have it done soon. Then it’s rewrite, polish and bam! I’ll have a finished manuscript to send out. The last time that happened was about a year ago. For those of you wanting a writing career, here’s a hint: you have to write, and you have send stuff out. Good stuff. Repeatedly, and as often as possible. Sorry, but that’s the only way to do it.
I’m not going to say which story it is because I don’t want to jinx it. Bits of it have appeared here and on my other blog as free reads. Have fun guessing.
What did I learn about beating writer’s block? Sadly, not much of anything. I never stopped writing entirely. I continued to write something every day, even if it was only a paragraph. I just didn’t finish anything. None of the ideas logjammed in my head grabbed hold and demanded to be written. I even entered a writing contest with deadlines in the hopes that would force me to finish something. That didn’t work either. Luckily I didn’t get anywhere in the contest, so it didn’t matter anyway. Here’s something I did learn: when you force yourself to write a book, that book will end up crap. That manuscript, or as much as I completed of it, has joined my other abandoned books and false starts in the closet, where it will sit until inspiration rears its head again.
Because that’s the beauty of writing. Some of these things never actually die. They just go dormant, like those flower bulbs you planted last fall. (We’re swinging back into the spring analogy here. Bear with me.) Then, when it warms up and the ground thaws out, they break through the soil, reach for the sun and yell, “Write me!” That was the case with my current WIP. It started out shaky, went cold for a while, then had an unexpected resurgence. Now it looks like I could actually finish it. Take that, writer’s block!
Sure, you’re bound to reap a weed or two, but some of these stories will come back to life and bloom into something beautiful. It all depends on the plant food, not to mention fertilizer. Yes, folks, sometimes writing requires mounds and mounds of shit.
Sorry. It’s been a brutal winter.
What I meant to say is, don’t give up. Not on writing, and not on what you write. Stories hit plot snags or go cold. Sometimes they die. Sometimes the wall slams down. If you’re serious about being a writer, you just have to plow on through. Eventually the temperatures rise, the sun climbs higher in the sky and the ice on the river breaks up. Remember, spring also brings floods. Hope your typing fingers can keep up.
Here’s a legitimate tip, a little game I’ve been playing to keep me going and help shake the ideas loose. I keep track of my daily page count on a calendar, hung up on the wall where I can see it. Every day I try to match or surpass the page count from the previous week. The challenge keeps me working, and guarantees I’ll write something on any given day. Even a single paragraph is progress.
Granted, sometimes it’s hard to even match when I’m writing longhand. Once I start typing up the handwritten pages, watch those page counts soar!
Now all I need to deal with are my procrastination issues. For instance, I just wrote this blog instead of working on the story. Okay, I’m done with this excuse. Onward and upward!