“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
I read an interesting article today about writer’s daily word counts. It made me think about the writers that I’ve heard say they can’t write because they’re blocked. Writer’s block is a very real thing, I suppose, but it’s not something that I’ve ever really struggled with.
There was a time after my mom passed away that I didn’t write.
I went through the same thing when my son was fighting cancer. It wasn’t about being blocked, though. It was about not having the emotional energy to write. I think that’s something different from writer’s block.
My understanding of writer’s block is when a writer sits at the computer, or with a pen and paper, and the story won’t come. It’s blocked by something, though I’m not sure that anyone knows what. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever had this problem.
There have been times when I was far too distracted to write, but to me that feels like a discipline problem. I need to turn the TV off, move to a quieter place, or switch methods of writing to get the juices flowing. I usually write on the keyboard, so picking up a table and a pen normally will help me get the words going.
Once in a great while, even using my little tricks won’t get me into the story. That’s normally an indicator that something is off with the story. I’m trying to force something, or someone, to move the story forward, and it doesn’t work.
I recently experienced this with Biloxi Blue. I’ve been struggling to get even a few words at a time down on the story, and when I do, everything feels slightly off kilter. I finally figured out that what I was doing wasn’t working, so I went back to the beginning and wrote the story between the two novels. That’s where A Biloxi Christmas came from.
Now I have a clearer picture of where I’ve gone wrong with Biloxi Blue, and the words are flowing again. It’s like the quote for Jack London above. Sometimes, you have to take control of the writing, rather than letting the writing control you. As a writer, with a career in non-fiction and trying to build a career in fiction, I don’t have time for writer’s block, so when I get stuck, I just have to grab a sledge hammer and knock the walls down.
Do you have tricks to get around being stuck in your writing? What works for you? And what doesn’t?