For the last few years I’ve just paid lip service to the fact that I wanted to be a writer. And not “just for fun”. A professional, published author.
It wasn’t that I misjudged the work required to do it. I’ve written 7 novels, although none of them have ever gotten past the first or second draft.
But writer’s block is an awful beast. It can strike anyone, at any time. There is some validity to the often-repeated advice: just write through it. Yet, it isn’t that easy. Writer’s block isn’t just a lack of motivation, although that’s part of it.
It’s staring at a blank page, typing a few words, deleting them, typing a few new words, and deleting those too. Over and over and over again. Thinking nothing you could possibly put down on paper is “good enough”.
Everything seems stupid. Or cliché.
Part of my problem is indecisiveness. I have dozens and dozens of novel ideas. Every time I decide to work on one, I think, “OH, but __(insertnovelplothere)__ would be SO MUCH BETTER.” And so I go back and forth, trying to pick the perfect one. And I’m paralyzed by the options.
Being a writer, but not writing, is an awful existence. Without that outlet, everything just gets… backed up. It’s been a rough year, an emotional year, and I haven’t had a way to get it out. I’ve written a few posts here, but it isn’t the same. Fiction is an incredible source of comfort. Being a writer, and not writing, not feeling capable of it, physically hurts.
So last week I thought, to hell with it. I’m going to write a shitty novel. A novel I don’t intend to publish, a novel that won’t be my breakout hit. A novel I’ll probably never make any money off of. I decided to take the pressure off, and let myself just write. To just create something, for the pure joy of it. For the beauty of the process. Several years back, I published a novel on FictionPress as I wrote it, chapter by chapter. I set myself a deadline – a new update, every week.
The deadlines kept me going, and the fun of knowing that people were reading it – and enjoying it, because they kept coming back – was incredible. When someone took the time to review? A total rush. Checking out my stats and seeing them grow? A huge confidence boost.
So I sat down last week Sunday and started to write.
What started off as a blank page has become 15,591 words and counting. (The fact that 15,591 words in one week is such an intense triumph for me shows how bad my writer’s block has gotten. A few years ago, I wrote a 98,000 word manuscript in 15 days.) Five chapters done, and two more half-finished. The first four chapters are on FictionPress as of this evening. The fifth chapter will probably go up on Wednesday after I give it a once-over, and chapters six and seven next week – but which point I hope to have eight, nine, maybe even ten, done.
And the best part of it? The words are flowing again. All I want to do is write. I’m scribbling out scenes on the bus, jotting down ideas on napkins.
Again I’ll say, it’s not good fiction. It’s somewhat rambly, largely unedited (typos, yes, content, meh). I’m not creating a work of art.
But the muse is back. I’ve missed her desperately.
(PS. If for some reason you want to read my [messy] return to fiction, you can read DISARM ME here as I post it. It’s something of a fluffy disaster, so you’ve been warned. Or, if you’d prefer to read on Wattpad, you can find Disarm Me right HERE)