April 4 question – When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
I like the question as I have not really twisted my mind around this previously.
When it says ‘cloudy or filled with rain’ are they referring to my personal outlook/mood? Or just a general drying up of ideas? Or has the writing turned into a morass with you having no idea of how to extract a positive outcome?
Personal outlook/mood – I don’t know that I only write when I’m happy. In fact, I believe that in the past some of my more prolific writing periods were when I was under personal stress as writing allowed me to do something totally different than what was going on in my life. It was a place where I could be creative and voice, or act out, things I could not allow myself in my real life.
Drying up of ideas – I have had times where a story I thought I had a handle on suddenly lost direction and I didn’t know how to finish them. Some of those stories are still waiting for their resolution. They are in ‘time out’ which isn’t a bad thing. I read somewhere a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away…sorry) that when writing research papers it is good to do your research early, then think about what you’ve found for a while (weeks?) and then start writing. This gives your mind time to digest (my term) the ideas and synthesize them into your own composition. This had worked for me in college and I think it works in fictional writing. Sometimes your subconscious just needs time to ‘think’ about the story.
The Morass – This is similar to the ‘drying up of ideas’ except you (I) went ahead and kept writing and it kept getting stickier and stickier and you (I) finally realize it isn’t going anywhere. I again step back mentally and give it some time for my mind to think about it and then go back to where I feel I lost the track. Chuck the chapters after salvaging bits I did like and start with a total new rewrite from where I last felt the story was working. I recently went back to a story I was working on fifteen years ago. I was happy with it up to a point. At the point where it was going everywhere, but nowhere, I stopped, looked at the last chapters and threw out those last five chapters. I actually think I can finish that book now. Doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything else in that fifteen years this book has been in ‘time out’. I have, just not this book.
So this is my take on what is basically ‘Writer’s Block’.