Writer’s block – and I didn’t even know it.

Looking back, I see that many of my posts speak of my battle with returning to writing after a stint away. I suppose this is  a period in my life which is very unpredictable, (and I must admit time management has never been my forte).

During this last period of unrest, I found myself writing in my head when I should have been sleeping. I lay awake night after night, re-writing scenes, creating new ones, and even entire short stories. I had rediscovered the joy in writing. I had not even realized I had lost it.

When I began writing, I wrote with the sole purpose of writing. I had no ulterior motives.  Publishing was a goal, not a purpose, and it was also not something I was scared of. And I also knew that I had to gather experience before publishing would be possible.

When did things change? I think when I came very close to finding representation for my first novel this summer, and did not. Somehow, publication became my purpose. I began blocking myself when writing – was this good enough? Would I have to rewrite and rewrite? Would this novel end up shelved? The worst part of all of this, was that I was not aware I was doing this.

Unable to sit at a computer and write, I returned to story telling (even if I was my sole audience). I had freed myself in doing so, and when I sat down to write a week ago, I was able to do so with joy again. I dissolved into my story, became my characters, and was taken. I did not worry about my prose, or if the plot followed a proper time line, or word count, or, or. I just wrote. And the thought of editing to fix all of these deviations became something I looked forward to. I loved editing my first novel. I loved seeing myself progress with each draft, and how I grew as a writer.

I have always been told that distance from one’s craft can be good, yet I had never experienced the benefits until now. Usually I return frustrated that I lost time, with a large amount of material that needs out.

Have you had to cope with writer’s block? If so, how did you manage it?

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30 thoughts on “Writer’s block – and I didn’t even know it.

  1. I think for me it’s teh frustration that something isn’t going as fast as it could. My blog provides an outlet. For my own “writer’s Block” i tend to write something else. ANYTHING else.

    PS, great to see you back with this blog.

  2. Just like Rebecca, I coped by working on a different project, and that time, I needed the distance you mention. But when I really want to overcome it for the current project, I free-write. Sometimes just summary, and slowly that will transform itself into scene.

    I’m glad you found some benefits in your recent period of unrest – that can be so difficult to do.

  3. I’m so glad that you returned to writing with a great sense of joy!

    I’m currently struggling to get words on the page and have been for a while, as in for weeks; though I make sure to write daily, the process is painful. I don’t know if this is writer’s block because I am writing and think about the characters every other minute of the day, but AHHHHHHHHH! Okay, sorry to use the comment space on your blog, but just felt like screaming. 🙂

    I love what you have to say about shifting your perspective on publishing.

    1. Christian , this is what blogging is all about – ranting!!

      “I am writing and think about the characters every other minute of the day”. Possible you are over thinking? Wanting to get it just right?
      I love it when my characters consume my thoughts 🙂

  4. Last year when I was thinking about publishing and had made it my goal, I wound up in the same place – lost that joy of writing and it all seemed so hard. When I got back to the basics of just writing for writings sake, writing for the love of it, for the fun of it, because it’s my passion, the words flowed again. Sometimes it’s really is just about shifting that perspective – I still want to get published, of course, but I write first and foremost because I love it. I write stories I love, and characters I love – not specifically things I think will sell.
    Great to hear that you found your job again 🙂

    1. Thanks for coming by and commenting JC!
      Amazing how perception affects EVERYTHING. I do not have a degree in literature, or years of experience, or any greater reason to write than the fact that I love the immersion is story. It does feel wonderful to have the joy again – thank you!

  5. Hi Jennifer,

    I feel like we have both returned to common ground after an age away! You’ve commented on my site a number of times about the block and what to do.

    I have found out very recently that I need to just leave it altogether and come back to a piece only when I have that ‘calling’.

    Forcing yourself to write when you can’t is very counter productive.

    And when you are writing stuff in your head – how about recording it into a dictaphone perhaps?

    Mike

    1. Ah, Mike, that ‘calling’.
      You are right, writing cannot be forced. Have you read a book that sounds like the author struggled the whole way through? What is the point??

      Nice to see you around here!

      1. Always popping in now and again Jennifer.

        Things are pretty mental with work at the moment and so writing has been difficult – finding the time if you know what I mean.

        That’s the same for my blog, but I’d appreciate if you could stop by and let me know your thoughts.

        Block gone yet?

  6. Hi Jennifer, interesting post.
    “writer’s block” for me is really just a manifestation of anxiety about being a writer. When I Identify the source of the anxiety the block usually dissipates. If that doesn’t work I make myself write anything. Writing frequently has a sort of snow-ball effect. The more you write the more you write.

    1. lol, Cathryn.

      Do you have the problem, where the more you write, the more you need to write??
      I would have thought it should be the other way around, but I suppose creativity feeds itself.

  7. I have no effective means for crawling out of writer’s block. I read more blogs, make new blogging friends, read more books and just wait for it to pass. I’m sure there’s a better, faster way.

    1. “I’m sure there’s a better, faster way.” Not so sure about this, Tricia. I think we each have to develop our own mechanism. I agree with Sharon that to overcome a block one must overcome the anxiety forming the block.

  8. Hi Jenni,

    I’ve experienced many bouts of writer’s block this year, forcing me to take days of writing. In some ways, the problem no longer concerns me, as I’ve done more writing this year than in previous and have worked on four different writing projects as well as beginning a blog.

    The publication/agent representation is a difficult one. I can’t really imagine writing not for publication, yet the chances of getting published are remote when one considers the statistics. At the same time, the recent internet revolution has unleashed many free tools that enable writers to self-publish novels and get them read.

    Regarding my own work and the editing report, a complex situation has presented itself. There’s a distinct possibility I won’t get the report or even see my money again. I’ve given a brief update on the situation my most recent blog.

      1. Hi jennifer, I’ve been in contact with the third party a couple of times. The editor has already done, or will, email the comments back to the third party who will past them on to me. Seems a lot better than previously.

        I have a novelist group session to myself tomorrow devoted to the first seven chapters of the novel, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. Currently tidying up some parts of the story in a separate document.

  9. I usually call my writer’s block laziness. I don’t really think of it as writer’s block. I guess I just want to blame it on myself. When I come out of a dry spell it is usually with a sleepless night like what you described. I just had one of those last week and I’m excited to get back to it as soon as I have an opportunity. That opportunity just seems to keep escaping me. Grr… We just got a new computer so that’s an extra bit of motivation. We have to get our money’s worth out of it by using it productively, not by playing games. 🙂 I’m glad you’re inspired once again. Keep at it. I just hope my own inspiration doesn’t wear off before I can take advantage of it.

    1. Hi Jana!! Nice to see you around!!
      I do know the frustration you have! All to well! And I think that was adding to my burden – why can’t I have the calmness in life that allow me the space to write??
      I think you are in a similar situation as me, with little ones at home. I try to take every moment I can, and sometimes it is literally 5 minutes squeezed here and there! Good luck getting your inspiration onto paper.

  10. I try not to use the word Writer’s Block because I think it infers something negative. Do I have times when I don’t accomplish a great deal in regards to writing..You bet! But I always know I’ll get back on track..

    One author gave me a bit of advise once, she said just write the story. So that’s what I try to do now.

    I find it helps to immerse yourself in what you’re doing without looking at what will happen once you’ve finished. Sounds as though that’s what you’re doing now!!

    1. Yes, Laura! Thanks goodness.
      The thing is, I was writing – not a heck of a lot, but still the story went on. I sat down during allotted writing periods and produced. Yet, without the passion of loosing oneself into the flow what is the purpose? For me it was equally a block because I stinted myself out of fear and worry.

  11. Usually when I have trouble writing, it’s because I’m anxious about other things, or because I’m tired (as in got-up-too-early tired, not worn-out-from-doing-too-much tired). Once I start writing, though, things always seem to shape up…it’s just making myself start, and start well, that seems to make the difference each day. It also helps if I spend a few minutes beforehand thinking about what, specifically, is coming up next. That way, I can start immediately and not waste valuable time deciding what needs to happen.

    Good post, with lots of great insight from everyone! Thanks!

    1. Hi owl and sparrow!
      I like your comment about starting off well. I find that by writing regularly it is much easier to re-enter the place I was.

      Today, when it was writing time, I had to sit down and take a moment to figure out where I was going precisely next. Once I had taken a few steps, off I was – or rather my character was!

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