Writer’s block. Probably the scariest words in the English language for a writer. I mean really, what happens when the words just stop coming? When an idea gets stuck mid-sentence? When the voice in your head just can’t seem to handle the blank screen or page any longer? As a writer, words are our bread, our butter, and our whole world. As soon as we get the dreaded “writer’s block” the words stop. Although sometimes “writer’s block” isn’t actually a block in the right sense. November for me seemed to be a block after my writing retreat.
When I started writing this post back in November of 2016, I had hit a dry spell. I had finished a wonderful writing retreat where I learned so much and wrote over 2500 words in 3 hours. I was on a roll. I was flying high when I got home. I was going to write, no matter what anyone said to me, and nothing was going to change that. Then real life got in the way and I got sick (which still has never truly gone away over the last 3 months).
But a miracle happened, I went to another workshop at the end of November with the brilliant Kelley Armstrong. I learned so much, I came home and for 2 whole days, I wrote so much and felt so good about it. Then, Christmas shopping season and Christmas cleaning filled my life but I realized something, I was still writing not in the “I’m sitting at the computer typing” sense but the “I’m thinking about my story and working through them so when I have time to sit, I can work on it” sense.
I then remembered what my digital storytelling professor told us, you are always writing. He called it percolating. I loved that word to describe that exact feeling. The words themselves had stopped but I was percolating. The ideas were running through my head, taking care of themselves. Sure, I wasn’t physically typing or putting pencil to paper but I was working on it in my own way. Sure, sometimes it still felt like the words had really stopped but at the same time, they really hadn’t. I had more time to ask questions and motivations of a character that I realized I hadn’t fully fleshed out in earlier drafts.
Still, you might be thinking, well, wouldn’t something on the page, be better than nothing? Well, sure, of course! A badly written piece can always be edited. But a lot of writers work a full-time job, juggle responsibilities, and still find time to write…sometimes. Not all the time, so it’s okay to not be so hard on yourself.
Take it from me, I still don’t get to do as much writing as I’d like. I wish I could devote all of my waking hours to creative writing and promoting it like I do here but sometimes life gets in the way, we are only human after all.
So when the words stop, don’t feel bad, just take a step back, and let the story percolate for the next time you sit down and let the words flow.