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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beating Writer's Block

I am slowly but surely beating the dreaded writer's block.

For those who don't know or understand it, it's simply fear - fear on a dozen different levels. At least one fear - and all due apologies to the person in question - was that someone I respected absolutely hated the way I write. And said so. Vehemently. On numerous occasions, but especially whenever I mentioned the method she disliked so intensely.

Now, I've always believed that there is no one true way - barring good grammar and spelling. If people can't read what you've written, what's the point? And that's the purpose of grammar and spelling, to help people read.

But that constant hammering - that's what it felt like - was wearing me down bit by bit, eating away at my confidence.

Adding to that was the fear that I wouldn't be able to write anything half as good as what I'd already written. This despite the fact that the sequel is doing well. I wanted to write a prequel, but there are some very dark elements in it and some difficult scenes that would require delicate handling. Another source of tension.

Another fear was of the dreaded negative review.

This despite the fact that all of my books have far more positive reviews than bad ones.

At first, it wasn't so bad. I understood and understand that not everyone is going to like my writing. But I suddenly came face to face with a potentially life-threatening illness for which there is no cure save a transplant - if one is available. Like many illnesses, I had had no symptoms, the problem turned up in tests. Fortunately, it was caught in time. Even so it turned my world upside down. (It's currently controlled by a strict diet.) Now for some reason every negative review hurt, and I started to try to avoid reading them. That's not always possible, and sometimes they have something to teach even the best writers.

Nor did it stop the desire to write, I've always had a vivid fantasy life so I've been creating characters and
worlds since before I could read. Characters still talked to me. Scenes still popped into my head. I just couldn't write them down, I couldn't stay with them.

I have attention deficit disorder. Which is okay, I've learned to deal, and one of the ways I dealt with it was to write.

Now the tables were turned. I was having a hard time staying focused and I was starting to be afraid that I couldn't do it any more. That, for me, was devastating. I couldn't even write a simple blog, or guest blog. Everything was a struggle. I'm a writer, I couldn't quit.

I tried lots of things. Music didn't help, it just distracted me even more.

Here's what did work:

I wrote. I gave myself a half hour every day to work on one story or another. I have sequels in mind for two different books, one of which is a series, as well as that prequel I mentioned earlier. Whichever spoke to me, that's the one I would write. Some days I wrote crap. Other days I knew something in the story was missing, but some of it was good. I kept writing. One half hour every day.

And the person who hated the style of writing? Since then, we talked. They told me that they loved my writing, particularly that book, and that I was one of the few people who used it well. That helped enormously.

Now there are moments of inspiration. I solved a question in the opening of one story that had been bothering me, and it felt wonderful.

Do I still have moments of anxiety? You betcha.

Now, though, I see the light at the end of the tunnel... and it's not an on-coming train. *laughing*