Reasons for the Block
I’ve been thinking about the creative process in the hope to understand my writer’s block. I also asked some other writers for help, and received some very insightful answers. As a result, I’ve come up with the following reasons for my own blockage:
1) I’ve been trying to stick too tightly within a genre. After I wrote The Night Mage, I made an effort to make my second book similar in genre. I struggle with writing series and if I have any hope of success I need my standalones to be semi-related. But I think I’ve boxed myself in too tight. I got so fixated on writing fairytale-esque fiction that I closed myself off to other avenues. I think I need to accept that I will always be the type of writer who hops around genres. This will probably mean my sales will suffer, but I can’t sell a bean if I’m not writing, so…
2) Similar to the above, I’ve been fixated too much on the end product. As soon as I start writing, I imagine the cover, the sub-genre on Amazon, the related books that I’ll use in my ad campaign… Ever since taking indie publishing seriously and scrubbing up on marketing, I’ve totally killed my creative freedom. By focusing on the end, I put too much pressure on the story and don’t allow for errors, so whenever something goes wrong, I panic and bail. I thought I’d taken the pressure off by accepting I’ll never be prolific, but it seems there was still another kind of pressure weighing down on my brain.
3) I’ve sapped all fun out of creation. Even though I’ve been aware of this for a while and trying to bring the fun back, I’ve not succeeded. Why? Because of the expectation and pressure outlined above. And another thing: in my mind, writing is formal and rigid. If I were trying to create music or art, I’d explore, improvise, muck around. But with writing, I don’t do that. Is it because writing is introduced to us as something serious and packed with rules, whereas music and art are presented as more free-form? As children we’re encouraged to mess around on the drums or with a paintbrush, but our writing must be neat and exact and in straight lines. Is this why it’s so hard to have fun with writing? Is this why so many writers suffer? Hell, I don’t know. But I bet it plays a part.
I think these are the main reasons behind my Block. After much thought and soul-searching (and a teeny bit of wine), I’ve come up with a solution:
I need to vomit draft.
(Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?!)
Now, I know, I like to cycle back as I go because messy first drafts stress me out, but the great thing is I can do both. If I split the process into two parts, I can spew out x thousand words in the morning, and then go back and edit in the afternoon. Pants first, cycle later.
I used to put too much focus on word count instead of story, but now I need to take focus away from story, because I’m putting too much pressure on the story itself. If my goal each morning is simply to hit a target, then I’m not giving my brain any room to question what I’m doing. Any maybe this isn’t a method that will work for me in the long-term, but right now my goal is to bash this Block into oblivion. And the only way I can do that is to write. Write any old crap. No project titles, no book playlists, no end-goal in sight. Nothing but a cold hard target that I have to hit every day. Just…have fun. Bash it out.
And what better time to do this than in November, aka National Novel Writing Month?