I can't write.
I mean, I'm writing this blog, and having fun doing it, but I'm not writing anything else.
Nothing. Zip. Crickets.
It's frustrating to get up early in the morning, sit at my computer and having nothing to write about. I could still be asleep! I could go for a predawn dog walk - without a dog - because they're still asleep.
There's nothing to edit. No research to be done.
It's real. I have writer's block.
So, what am I going to do about it? Well, it depends.
When I was editing Unpacking Harper Holt, the first step was a structural edit. My editor, had asked me to add a couple of chapters (I have written about this in an earlier post). How was I going to do that when, in my head, the story was finished? My strategy was to reread the manuscript and see if anything came to mind now that I had feedback to think about. I read and it worked - the extra chapters started. Strategy 1 - reread the manuscript.
And that brings me to Strategy 2 - get feedback. Feedback works - good, detailed feedback. The 'it's good' or 'I liked it' type of feedback, although stasitifying, is not helpful to unblock a writer's block, not for me anyway. The technical, drilling down type of feedback (again, check out earlier posts) really helps because it gets me thinking from a different point of view.
In one of those new chapters needed for Harper a dog arrived, without a name. I had no idea what to name it so I gave it a regular dog type name and kept writing. The next morning I was walking my two dogs. They were in-step, side by side, there was a rhythm to their walking. I was watching them, their heads bobbing, happy to be out and about. The name came, for Harper's dog, just like that! Strategy 3 - go for a walk.
There's been occasions when I've had plenty of time to sit and write, an abundance of
time, and yet the words don't come. That's when I need Strategy 4 - a distraction. Read, bake, sort out a cupboard, listen to podcasts, pretend I can garden... All of these help - I think it just snaps me out of whatever it is that is stopping the words from arriving.
Strategy 5 - read about writing. I only discovered this strategy this year. I have a couple of fabulous books about writing that I like to dip in and out of. I've found that this really helps. For example there may be a tip about including dialogue. After reading it I just have to go to my manuscript, see what I've done and, inevitably, I start changing things and writing.
These strategies always work when I have finished something, when I'm editing.
However at 5am,when I'm up early, coffee made and ready to write something new - what happens then when nothing new arrives?
My solution to this has been to start this blog, to work on my junior series but what about a novel - the emotional journey I like to take with a character, when I don't know where it is going and I just follow along and write what I see?
Well - that's something I don't have answers for. For me, this part of the process is personal, and unplanned. I am waiting for a character, ad name and a situation to arrive and then the story will start. I know, when a new character turns up and is ready, and it's 5am, there will be no writer's block.
For that - I just have to wait.