The Only Cure for Writer’s Block

I’ve been affected by writer’s block. Who hasn’t? And let’s not get into a debate about what it is or if it even really exists; the fact is that sometimes, you just feel like you can’t write.

Many of us (at least I) have tried to trick ourselves into being motivated once again. The problem is when “tomorrow” becomes “next week” and then “next year.” My most demotivating moment came a few years ago. I was working on a three-part Fantasy series, and partway through the second book, I didn’t like where the story was going, and I didn’t see any way around it. So I stopped.

I didn’t write for a long time after that. Ideas came back to me on occasion, and I’d sit down and write some stuff out and share it with people to get their opinions. I’d blog about it, brag about it, and bounce ideas around with people. But I’d never actually write it. The story I’m working on right now actually had a growth rate of one chapter per year before I picked it back up a few weeks ago.

I liked to tell people I’m a writer, and then when they asked me about my projects, I’d have to tell them that I haven’t actually written anything in a while.

The problem is I was doing a lot of talking, but not a lot of doing. I became unmotivated by some negative opinions, then I didn’t know what to write because anything I did write would just be subject to more criticism. I’d get ideas for new stories and write those down, or switch gears entirely for another story. My most misguided moment was probably convincing myself that NaNoWriMo what just what I needed to get back on the horse. Somehow, that only made it worse.

After reviving that NaNo project for Camp NaNo, I realized that I just didn’t care about the story, and that I was just doing it as though I had something to prove. It was like I thought I was a failure if I didn’t finish it.

Finally, when I felt I’d been defeated enough by this lackluster murder mystery, I printed off notes and chapters of unfinished stories, and even realized that I could link one of my story ideas with one of my completed novels (which I’ll rewrite from scratch once (if) I get to that part of the story).

I jotted down pros and cons of three stories – all Sci-Fi/Fantasy – and eventually went with the one that I had prepared the most notes for. I already had a skeleton outline, and when I read the chapters I had completed, I found that I just plain liked the story. It was fun. And if this all sounds a little familiar, it’s because I’ve mentioned it before in a recent post.

I’m only 1,000 words away from getting this story up to 50k, and I only have four to five chapters left to write, depending on what I do with my outline.

But I was supposed to be talking about the cure to writer’s block here, wasn’t I?

Prescription: Put up or shut up.

As much as I dislike blunt advice such as that, it’s really the only honest thing I can go with right now. Talking about writing, reading about writing, blogging, bragging, thinking about writing, none of it matters unless you’re actually writing.

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