So I mentioned in a recent post how I’m trying out this new thing where I get up early in the morning to write 1,500 words before I go to work. And it had been going great. I was writing pages and pages every morning, the story was flying out of my fingertips at great speed, I was starting to feel good about this.
My Mom’s a Killer was coming along nicely. I was confident. It was going to be an instant bestseller, I just knew it. How could people not love it? I mean, sarcastic, funny Keira; feisty, sassy Jo; hot hot hot Derek; an attempted murder, a cover-up and an early release from prison. It was great.
Until it wasn’t.
This week has been a little rough. It’s been hard to wake up, hard to consume my daily dose of the front page of The New York Times and most importantly, hard to write. And the longer I spent away from my precious novel, the harder it got.
Last night I finally forced myself to sit down and start writing again. It was like dream-running: impossible. (Side note: does anyone else have that problem? I cannot get my legs to move quick in a dream. It makes running from the bad guys a real issue). Anyway. To use a cadre of cliches, it was like pulling teeth, like slogging through mud, like running uphill. I couldn’t do it.
I mean, I did. I forced out 1,800 words, but the whole time I was telling myself, This sucks, this sucks, this whole book sucks. This is not a good book. 180 pages, 52,000 words, and you’ve got nothing. A waste of time. They say we’re our own worst critics, and it’s so true. I can tear myself down in one second when it took 100 compliments to get me moderately pleased with my work.
But I pushed through. I kept writing. I forced the words out, because I’ve learned at least one thing after more than 15 years of being a writer (yes, I started around the time I was seven. I might have been terrible, but I was still a writer. I’ll claim that): I’ve learned that writer’s block is just that — a block.
It’s a temporary obstacle on the path to literary greatness. It’s a large boulder, a towering gate, a fallen tree. It is possible to get through it. Sometimes, the only way to do that is to just — keep — hitting — it.
You’ve gotta bust that obstacle down. You have to write your way through that. The beauty of writing can be contained in one word: drafts. Heck yeah, revisions and multiple drafts are the only thing that keeps me going sometime.
When I’m struggling through a tough scene or wondering how on earth I’m going to save my book, I tell myself one thing: push through it. Write through it. Get to the other end of the scene, where the road is clear, and forge ahead. When it comes time to review, to reevaluate your work, you can decide whether or not to keep the troublesome scene.
Perhaps you’ll end up scrapping it. Some scenes exist for the sole purpose of helping us get from one point to another. That’s totally okay. Everybody, literally everybody has some of those scenes.
Perhaps you’ll majorly revise it and keep it. That’s great! In your darkest, weakest moment of writing, you still created something salvageable. You rock, dude.
Perhaps you’ll keep it was is. That’s even better than the above! It means you’re a freaking superstar of the writing world. If this is what you create in the darkest moments, what must you have done when you were feeling good? You can do anything.
And there is is, in 700 words or less: the cure for writer’s block is to write more. I mean, think about it. It’s the best revenge! Here’s this monster trying to keep you from writing, and you defeat it by doing just that. Writer’s block ain’t got nothing on you. You, my friend, are a writing superhero. All hail the next bestselling author, [insert your name here]!