The Dreaded Block
As many of you know I have been doing writing streams over on Twitch for the fast few months with a focus on accomplishing small amounts of writing each day. It has been very successful with regard to ensuring I take time each day to write, but also in socially interacting with fellow writers and fans. Overall it has been a great experience.
I have been working on the third book in The Serenity Saga since we started the Writing with Richard segment on Twitch. We finished last Friday, and it was an emotional experience for me. And while it is only the first draft it marks a major milestone is my fifth novel, and the third (and dare I say last) novel of the series. I’ve spend a lot of time living life with these characters. All around it was fitting to finish it on stream since it was the streaming that inspired me to finally start writing again.
But then came the next concern. What do I write next? What do I do for Writing with Richard now? How will I create more content that is both engaging and gets me to write. Though I have other novel ideas in play, I wanted to focus a bit more on my short form stuff. After all short form is what got me my first publication and inspired me to get my first novel out there.
Monday rolled around and there was a bit of a freak out. My file full of story ideas in nowhere to be found. I jot ideas down in my phone as they hit me, and then add them to a document on my computer with story ideas. And when I went to access that repository I couldn’t find it. They have apparently been lost.
We filled the time on Monday fairly well by discussing cover art and what will come next in getting the novel ready for publication. I’d even looked up some writing prompts to inspire us for Tuesday’s session. On Tuesday I got one of those ideas ready, found the character that was perfect for it, and put together a great flash fiction story that I hope will make it to the pages of the a publication soon.
But Wednesday came along and that was where it all went to shit. It started off alright. I have had the idea of a world in my head. A climate change world that would fit well with a prompt I had found. And I knew I’ve wanted to write this story for some time. But as we got on stream and got ready for the writing session I realized that I didn’t have a character. I needed one in order to make the story work, obviously, but as a character driven writer it felt as though it was all forced. And that was when it hit. The Dreaded Block. Writer’s block.
Nothing I put down felt right. I wrote and deleted and wrote and deleted. It all just felt wrong, forced, and all around trash. It sent me spiraling down from there and I wound up ending the streaming early. I spend my dinner and my evening feeling as though I’d failed, was not good at what I did, and not cut out to be a writer or a streamer.
This isn’t the first time I’ve hit a block in my writing, I think every writer does a number of times. But it was the first time I had in front of other people. It was the first time I felt like I had failed not just myself but others. Of course, all of that is in my own head. But it was tough.
It did leave me reflecting on writing in general and what to do about my block. I took some of my own advice in previous posts and took a step back. I realized that my block was coming from two places. First, I was trying to force myself to write something I wasn’t ready to write. Next, I was feeling a bit frantic over the fact that I’d lost so many story ideas. When you factor that all in with being “on stage” at the time, it all added up to a block.
So as today came around, I thought I’d take the chance to break down the block by instead focusing on writing about what had happened. Writing this blog post, which is being written live on stream, has helped to get the words flowing on stream again.
The pressure I felt to write something was entirely self pressure. The idea that I have to write a few short stories is also entirely self driven. So I realize that I should instead write what I want to write. Which, right now, is another novel length (maybe) idea. So I may bring my focus to that. But today I wanted to write this blog post, so that is what I did.
Writer’s Block isn’t always so easy to break down and I recognize that. I may well find myself stuck again tomorrow or next week. But it helps to have some idea of the cause so that you can root out what you need to do and get back to it. And I am still glad to have these streaming sessions where I can connect with so many people. It was good to spend the first part or today’s session just chatting before diving into this blog.
Sometimes the Dreaded Block just needs time to sink away. Other times you can push it down. But what I want you all to know is that it is normal. It happens to us all. You can get past it.