Many authors say there is no such thing as writer’s block. They say they continue writing, whether the segment is difficult or not. While I don’t dismiss their opinions, for me, writer’s block is a real condition, and it can affect me for days, and sometimes, several weeks.
Let’s take my Nanny book from last week’s installment. I had the first three chapters going, lickety-split, and then I hit a snag. How was I going to get the hero and heroine to keep meeting? I started one scenario, got a little way into the chapter, and realized it was too contrived. I pride myself on writing realistic romances, i.e., ones that could actually happen in real life, and my ideas weren’t fitting that mold. I hit the Delete button.
I sat for several days, before getting the bright idea to ask my editor. She came up with some great suggestions, and I ran with one of them. Sometimes the writer’s block isn’t how to advance the story, but, instead, the characters won’t do what you want them to. I know, that sounds silly. Aren’t they my creations, after all? It’s not like they are living, breathing people. Oh, but they have minds of their own! Let me give you an example.
I have a western series I’m revising right now, and the second book involves a pregnant woman (Emmie), and the man (Noah) who agrees to marry her to save her reputation. Near the end of the book, she realizes she’s in love with her husband, and wants to “be” with him, if you catch my drift. Pregnant, married couples have sex all the time nowadays, so why not?
With that thought in mind, I started writing the consummation scene, but the words just wouldn’t flow. I could write Emmie’s point of view, since she was all for making love, but I couldn’t seem to get Noah to “do the deed.” My writing sounded lame.
I tried forcing Noah for two days before I decided he wasn’t the type of guy to endanger the baby (as they thought back in those days). He would care more for the safety of the mother and unborn child than his own needs. Once I realized that, I was able to move the scene along. That’s what I mean by the characters not cooperating. If I try to coerce them to do something that isn’t “in character,” it shows up as poor writing. Or, no writing.
It’s during these times that I start avoiding my laptop. I’ve cleaned out my medicine cabinets, reorganized my closet organizer, even washed windows when I couldn’t write. I know my subconscious is working on the current problem, so I let it do its thing.
My husband has learned to ask, “Can’t write?” when I’m being overly helpful at home. That’s when I’ll run ideas by him, and he’ll give me suggestions, usually ones that involve sex, even if I’m nowhere near a romantic scene. His answers always make me laugh, which relieves the tension of not writing. And, a lot of the time, he will give me a good solution that will actually work, or that I can build on.
I even get Writer’s Block when I’m revising, like I’m doing currently. I know the scene I’ve written doesn’t work, but I don’t know how to improve it. It’s at those times that I go for solitary walks, running various scenarios through my head until one clicks. Then, it’s back to the laptop.
So, while many authors profess that Writer’s Block is just an excuse for not writing, I believe it’s an actual event that occurs to all authors. Some can work through it faster than others, and some may have more experience to know how to avoid it. Me? I try to outline and plan my stories to prevent Writer’s Block, but if I get it, I ride it out like a rodeo cowboy. I know I’ll tame the beast at some point.
Now that I’ve finished writing my book, what’s next? It’s the editing process, which are words that strike fear into the most seasoned authors. Check next week on the blog to see how I cope.