Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IWSG: Writing books is hard to do.

I am finally back for the Insecure Writers' Support Group. And I've got a heck of an insecurity to write about today.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year because I needed a real kick in the pants to get back into the writing groove again after months of writer's block. I think on some level I thought of "writer's block", even when it's caused by stressful life issues, as something that would eventually just go away and then I would be back to normal. I'm beginning to realize that it's not that simple. It seems writer's block is not necessarily like a cold, where all you have to do is weather it for a few days with the help of some sudafed and then it goes away by its self and you get on with your life again. My experience of trying to break free of writer's block is more like... Well, something that is the opposite of the above cold analogy. I said I've had writer's block, ok?

The truth is that since the beginning of November I put in almost 2000 words on one story, then decided I couldn't possibly speed write that story so I decided to start a completely different story. On story number two I have put down a little over 1000 words but now I'm beginning to think that I can't write this story because when I think about the story there is no story in my mind. So maybe I should look for a different story to write. And here's the thing... Every single one of those 3000+ words I've had to sweat and struggle over. I'm beginning to wonder what I was thinking when I signed up for NaNo. It must have been a moment of insanity because there's no way I can write 50,000 words in one month like this.

Yesterday I sat back and tried to mentally deal with the fact that at the moment, writing anything is extremely difficult for me. The words just don't come the way they used to. The stories that used to fill my mind are no longer detailed and alive. Every word I write feels like dead weight. And I feel so jealous of all the writers out there blogging about their latest writing accomplishments, of all the manuscripts they've completed and all the amazing ideas they have. I want writing to be easier again.

But it's not going to be. I know that I'm going to have to fight to get that back again. Writer's block isn't just going to go away and leave me where it found me. It's going to be a battle of wills every single day just to get some words set down, just to make some progress. I can't give in, no matter how much a part of me wants to just throw my hands up and declare that this was all a mistake and I just can't do it, can't be a writer. Because, as my wonderful husband assured me yesterday, my stories are something worth fighting for. They are important. And victory will come with dedication and perseverance and a ton of effort. Someday I'll feel like a writer again.


  1. Yes, writing books is hard to do. But at least you are not alone. You have the support of this wonderful online writing community! That's a blessing! So hang in there...
    Visiting from IWSG.

  2. Hi Sarah, I've been there! Sometimes I feel that I'll never be able to write anything again and you know what helps? Telling myself that it's okay, at least for a short while, to not write. I'll read something (which often inspires me) or I'll sit in a quiet place and somehow, the ideas or characters find me. Don't be so hard on yourself; your story may be there, in the back of your mind, getting ready to show itself to you. Good luck!

  3. I sooo sympathise with you. I too have had a bout of writers block recently - and it's not the first time. The thing that I find helps me to get going again is reading some writing books. That is 'how to' books. I can nearly always relate to what I read and it generally gets me going again! Not saying it'll work for you but it definitely helps me...

  4. Popping in as another ISWG member.
    I should give yourself a break. Sounds as though you can write, but only in short bursts.
    Maybe NaNo is not for you this year. Maybe you are asking too much of yourself. How about writing a 1200 word story with a view to submitting to a magazine? And all writers are insecure - even the rich and famous. Ian Rankin was on the box last night and he wasn't so hot either. Six pages before the end of his first draft and he wasn't certain who the baddie was.
    Walk, nibble something nice and dream and keep the writing short until you are bursting to write that biggie. And sit on the inner critic. She's such a pain!

  5. I'm sorry! I didn't think a third book would happen for me, as I was dry of ideas for months.
    Keep trying and just add up the total of everything you've written this month!

  6. I really think one has to feel called to write a book or story, instead of feeling like you HAVE to, or do it in a certain number of words or in a certain amount of time. My writing has always slowed when I've felt less than enthusiastic about doing a certain book at that particular time. If you're not feeling something, it's best to focus on a book you are fueled to write and then get back to the one you're struggling with when the fire has had time to come back.

  7. Okay, so, here is my writer's block cure:
    Don't write one of your stories. Just pick a silly idea and sit down and start writing the silly idea and let it take you wherever it goes. Don't make it be a real story, just it let it be something to get you going again.

    My made my students crack up last year with a story synopsis about a dime and a nickel that a guy puts in his pocket but later finds two nickels and some pennies. Silly. But, sometimes, that's what turns the creativity back on.

  8. I can completely identify with everything you've said... and wow! NaNo is so overwhelming, isn't it?

  9. I totally get this. No, I don't do NaNo. Too much pressure. But I did write a novel in just over a month, and I even got it traditionally published. So it IS possible. I think it's just the pressure of NaNo and also what you're putting on yourself. The story should come organically. When you least expect it, it'll pop into view. Until then, try a writing exercise, picking a subject, a place, and an object, then start writing. This will help get the juices flowing. But having said that, I do get the whole block thing. My second book is nearly completely outlined, but Ican't quite finish the end. But I do sit down every night and scratch out a few lines so at least I make a tiny bit of progress. Sometimes, that's all we need. Good luck! Oh yeah, I'm a new follower via the IWSG. Welcome to the group!

  10. Sarah, I've felt this. Many writers have felt this. You're not alone, trust me. When I'm stuck, I have to remove myself, have a bit of fun. Go for a walk. Put down the wip, and work on something else. Heck, write a poem about being blocked. Keep your chin up. :)

  11. Wow. This is really rough. I signed up for Nano and haven't even really started yet. Life just got in the way. I'm not worried about it. If it happens, it happens, but if it doesn't that's okay too.

    Sometimes it's really hard to find new ideas. I'm not one of those writers who always have a million stories floating around my head. I have to work for them--but, that being said--don't give up. It will get better, I promise.

    glad I found you through IWSG!! I'm a new follower btw. :)

  12. We all have our highs and lows. Sometimes deadlines get us writing, and sometimes they tie our hands. More like our brains. LOL

    Don't give up. Keep writing as you have time, and inspiration will come again. ;)

  13. The writing doesn't matter. Focus on the story. You know what the story is. Now tell it.

  14. I've felt like that; when stories seem to refuse to work out the way they used to and sticking to one idea is hard. I think it just takes time and more writing--the creativity has to return sometime!

  15. Don't let the daunting 50k get you- just keep writing- even if it is crap and you toss it- that's the cool thing about NaNo, it's about process and just putting those words to paper (or screen). Surely no breakthrough will happen if you aren't writing.
    Best wishes for a busted block- you can do it! :)

  16. NaNo can be daunting even without writer's block. You can do it, baby steps and all that. Might have been better to work your way up in writing again by doing short stories to get the creative juices flowing. Good luck with NaNo and write on!

  17. Thanks for the support and suggestions, all. My writer's block goes a lot deeper than normal writer's block, to the point where stories that I had been excitedly working on before it hit suddenly flattened me like 16 ton weights. So the normal tricks just haven't been working. But I talked out a the story idea that I started working on first for NaNo with my husband last night and I feel better about it now. I think I'll go back to that one and continue working as much as I can on it.

    With NaNo, I'm not really that concerned about "winning". Signing up was mostly just an attempt to give myself some extra motivation and if I can manage to get back into a regular writing routine this month I'll consider that a victory no matter what my word count is. :)

  18. I have been feeling the same way since signing up for NaNo. The story I just knew I was going to work on hasn't flowed at all. I think I have 2000 words. Like you said, the words just don't come. Even when I show up at the computer or notebook, ready to write, the words simply don't come. How do we get past that? I don't know.

    But i do know that we must continue to show up. No matter what, we must continue to show up. It may take a week or a year, but the words will flow again and if we're sitting there, fingers at the ready, we'll capture them when they do.

    Best of luck to you!

  19. Your husband is absolutely right - don't give up! I had a horrible case of writer's block some years ago that lasted for two years, and in hindsight it's easy to see that part of the problem was my own laziness. Writing every day helps, no matter what. And hey, if you can't do NaNo, come do mini NaNo on the Forum!

  20. Your hubby is right. Except I don't really believe in writer's block. I believe we are always writing, even if the words aren't making their way onto the page. I need to just make time, sit my butt in the chair, and allow whatever to happen. You'll get there. Hang in.

  21. I completely understand what you're saying. Writing was never easy for me (except back when I wrote short stories). Every word for a novel is a battle. It was much easier when I knew less about craft. Now I'm never satisfied. I haven't written in 4 months, so if you have gotten 3k down, you're doing better than me! I really hope both of us can find the inspiration and determination to get back into the game. :-)

  22. Don't give up! Listen to dh. He's right.

    Honestly, I'm supportive of writers who do NaNo, but it would never work for me. If I could crank out 50k in a month, I'd already be doing that. Pressure like that would GIVE me writer's block. LOL

    My advice is do whatever works for you. Try and figure out what is keeping you from writing an combat that in whatever way works best.

    If it's lacking direction in your story, then check into plotting helpers like Blake Snyder's 'Save the Cat.' If it's lack of time and a quiet space, then find a way to get some of that. And if it's just pure writing exhaustion, then take a break and read (or whatever relaxes you -- just get away from writing).

    If you give yourself some room to learn, hone your skills, and rest, things will get better. I promise. ;)

    IWSG #145 until Alex culls the list again. :)

  23. I can so relate to you. I recently had a writer's block and now, I'm trying to ween myself out of it. It's tough to do. Yeah, writing books are tough because it takes a tremendous dedication.

    Don't give up! Believe in yourself! :)

  24. Some day you'll meet a writer who's going through writer's block and you'll be able to add something to help them feel not so abnormal. I once had writer's block for one whole year. Yes, a whole year. I was thoroughly convinced I'd never write again. And then lo and behold one day I'm making the bed and suddenly this character popped into my head. She had her whole story ready for me to jot down. I actually had shivers travel up my spine.

    I've had a few bouts of writer's block since then but nothing that severe. In fact, I now have 2 novels published. I'm even over all that fuss and excitement. But I'm left with one important thought, regardless of whether inspiration fires me up every day or not, a writer I am and always will be.


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