Writer’s Block… or Mirage Wall?

“Writer’s Block” It’s like the dreaded computer blue screen of the writing world: the one thing we all as writer’s fear, but will inevitably run into regardless. I could never quite understand this phenomenon, yet, alas, I’m not immune from the lull of these dreaded times.

All I know is that I’m getting quite tired of it. I honestly don’t know why this has been so hard on me lately. After what feels like forever, I’m finally getting back into these writing moods where I actually want to sit down and work on something, anything (yes, I desperately want to work on my book and finish the edit of the first, but I consider any writing on any of the books in the series progress). Yet, time and time again, it seems that as soon as I actually sit down to put pen to paper – or fingers to keys – I lose all that prior bright ambition and can barely focus, leading me to stare blankly at the screen for awhile before ultimately giving up. I’ve watched entirely too many movies and have been reading far more as of late. So, what is this? Writer’s block? Still? Or just a mirage wall? Maybe I’m using the term writer’s block as nothing more than an excuse, though I can’t imagine for what. I love to write, so what the heck do I need an excuse not to do it for? Unless, deep down I’m still saddled with that stress from the time when I was trying to do too much.

– Back in the beginning of the year, I had the immense ambition to pull off a full edit/rewrite of my book by June and have it published and ready for the Renaissance Festival here in August. Let’s just say that it turned out to be a far larger project than I ever could have imagined. Those that think manuscript editing consists of merely fixing punctuation and some grammatical errors have little knowledge of the authorial world. I will admit that I initially had the same thought… it died out very quick, only to be replaced with the fear and stress that I wouldn’t meet the constrictions of my own deadlines. As you can see, I was right in that assumption. Yet, therein lies the beginning of my problems. In my rush to try to meet that deadline anyways, telling myself that it was just my own negative thinking holding myself back, I did wind up getting a large chunk of the edit/rewrite done (over 200 pages of straight rewrite – I basically set the initial draft aside and wrote the beginning from scratch). However, the writing that I had once enjoyed had suddenly become a job that I came to hate. At the end of May – the last time that I honestly sat down and worked on anything regarding the first book – I finally allowed myself to admit, not just to myself, but also publically on my book’s Facebook page, that I was not going to have it done this summer. After that I allowed myself a much needed break, yet it seems to be a lengthy vacation that I have yet to return from. The good news is that I do miss my writing and the joy of it, I think I just still retain that fear of returning to that place where I found myself hating the one thing that I have always loved and want to eventually make a living out it. It’s an extremely difficult discovery to wake up one day and find that you want nothing to do with the one thing that makes your world. It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff and staring out into a void, not knowing what makes sense anymore, like the world had shifted and no longer revolves around the sun. All in all, a scary feeling.

And though, I think I’ve finally begun to rise from the ashes of that fall, I still haven’t been able to let all those negative feelings go. The worst thing about being a writer I believe – at least in my own case, not sure how it is for others – is that I think it’s actually made me more emotional as a person and far more susceptible to bouts of depression. It’s wonderful, being able to explore those deepest depths of the darkness of one’s mind and then effectively putting it on the page for other’s entertainment, but to actually feel it yourself really saps your strength of character after awhile. I’ve noticed as well, that there are times when my own moods reflect those of my characters and how they’re reacting to events in the story as I’m writing.

The worst part of all this is that within the past year I’ve become so overbearing hypocritical of myself and the talents I possess. Once again, I don’t know why. I’m much more talented than I give myself credit for. I’ve gotten a number of positive and raving reviews from the few friends I trust to read my novel at this early stage, and yet it doesn’t seem to be enough, the shine of those words wearing off far too soon. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to see the brilliance of my writing as opposed to being so hard on myself.

It just gets to be a little disheartening after awhile, especially since all my little self-imposed hissy fit hiatus’ keep pushing my loosely constructed deadlines further and further away. People keep telling me to take my time with my writing, let it grow, and that everything will eventually come to me and fall into place. Yes, yes, I know that. I really do. But is it so bad of a thing to want some progress, some finality after nearly 8 years of work? The elation of wanting to run down the street and jump for joy when I finished the first draft of book one in December of 2011 has long since worn off. I just feel like it should have all been done by now and that I should be working on subsequent books in the series. I’m still effectively hoping to have a e-book out and a few editorial copies out to a handful of friends for a final revision by the end of the year, but we shall see. I want to take the time off in November again to do NaNoWriMo again, since I had such success last year, but all I can think of is that that’s a whole month dedicated to NOT working on getting the first book completed. Yet, if I want to be honest with myself, that’s no different than this whole summer. Maybe, I need to allow myself that break. The greatest thing about NaNoWriMo is that is focuses on that fear. Instead of wasting all that time being perfect, wanting every word to flow just right, it forces you to just put words on the page and keep it going, whether it sucks or not. Maybe I need to let go of my perfectionism and allow myself that ultimate freedom again. Yet, when you’re trying to polish your book for publication that’s a hard thing to do. Though, perhaps this blog could be good for me, because I’m certainly not editing all this – just letting my thoughts flow.

My biggest thing is that I feel like you can only tell people so many times that you’re writing/editing your first novel and that it will be out soon before they come to the ultimate conclusion that your words are merely hot air to keep your ego inflated and that nothing will ever actually come from it. The one thing I do know is that I will NOT give up this unconventional dream of mine. I’m far too invested in this story and its characters. And when I allow myself the freedom of mistakes, I really do love the writing and the world I’ve created. It’s just that, for wanting to make a living on writing – not an easy thing to do – I really need to get a move on, because I honestly don’t see myself doing anything else. If this all crumbles down around me, I don’t have much of anything else to fall back on…

Well then… deep and depressing thoughts aside. There are a number of projects I’ve had on my mind regarding my writing – a few little side stories involving my main characters, the urge to finally get back into my editing, drawing up a timeline for the book I want to start during NaNoWriMo, and a few vivid pictures in my mind that I want to attempt in the digital painting world. As for good news, I think I wrote a three page poem about the sea last night. It basically just flowed through my fingers and onto the paper and I haven’t read it yet, but I will probably post it whether it’s terrible or not in the next few days.

In the future, I will try not to let my posts be nearly as depressing as this one.

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2 thoughts on “Writer’s Block… or Mirage Wall?

  1. Shannon says:

    I understand completely how you feel, but I totally trust that you’ll find your way back as I do after long bouts of miserable blocks. Even if it’s a paragraph or a short side story…at least you’re writing something and trying. That shows more progress than you think. Good luck!

    • Thanks! That’s my biggest thing with keeping that journal that’s specific to thoughts and ideas on my story, just keeping in the habit of writing. Even if it’s not direct story material. I definitely notice a correlation between how much I write in that journal and how much I’m getting done storywise, however. Good news is that it’s slowly coming back to me.

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