Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Writer's Block (aka The Bane of A Writer's Existence)

It has been forever and a day since I last wrote a blog post!

I may be the only one who does this, but I like to imagine interview questions being directed at me, and decide how I would answer them. Perhaps it's because I have this bad habit of flubbing my words when I'm talking and drawing blanks upon being asked on-the-spot questions about myself.

For the record, "tell me something interesting about you!" will generally result in the same answers: I'm the middle of five children, two older brothers and two younger sisters. I have anaphylaxis to dairy and eggs. I've been kickboxing for five years. I write fantasy novels about wars and kisses and magic.

But today, the question I have on my mind is "How do you deal with writer's block?"

It's funny. I used to think that writer's block was some mythical thing that only existed when writers were too lazy to actually write. (I know, that sounds very rude and naive of me. Forgive my younger self, please.) But when, in 2014, I had a nine month long bout of writer's block, I realized it truly exists. Sadly, I didn't ever come up with a solution to it then. It just ended one day, when I drafted a book in a two-week fervor of figurative blood, sweat, and tears. In 2015, I drafted two more books, one over the summer and one while mentoring my lovely Pitch Wars mentee in fall/winter 2015.

However, here we are, May of 2016 and officially summer break. I have three months before I start my senior year of college, during which I had hoped to write like the wind and make a dent in my ever-growing TBR pile (as of right now, I have three books on my desk, several books on my phone, another book on my laptop's e-reader, and several on various shelves in my room). I have a WIP almost completely outlined, ready for me to start writing it. I opened a blank Word doc this morning, wrote 179 words, and have sat here staring at the cursor for the past six hours.

Writer's block, you are the bane of my existence. It's like a disease that never really goes away, even though it's not always abruptly apparent. I'd even go so far as to compare it to my chronic asthma that I've had since I was a kid. There are days when my asthma isn't as apparent, though every once in a while I feel a bit wheezy. Hell, there are even days where it never once flares up.

And then there are days when, no matter how hard I try, it never goes away, despite all of my best efforts. The thing is, to continue with this analogy, if I gave into my asthma on the days when it flares up the strongest? I'd suffocate and die.

If you give into writer's block, you'll probably never again pick up the pen.

The writing process for every book is different, of that I can attest. Sometimes I draft with outlines, and sometimes without. I like to alternate writing styles, so that one book is third person, the next first person, and back and forth we go. It's a challenge that keeps me on my toes and requires me to step outside of my current comfort level. And yet, the cursor still blinks.

My favorite writing mantra is "you can't edit words that don't exist." And what I have to remember is that first drafts are allowed to suck. They're allowed to be messy and full of mistakes, because you're getting to know your characters and your world, and conflicts often change as characters grow. And the only way that writer's block will win, is if you don't sit down and write every single sucky word. Revision exists for a reason.

The only way writer's block will win is if you don't keep writing.

So now, naturally, I'll leave you with a piece of music. Music always inspires me to write; I can't draft without it. So maybe, if you're experiencing that dreaded thing called writer's block right now with me, the song will help you.

Stay messy,

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