I tried editing what I’d already written. Nothing stirred. I tried reading the dictionary for inspiration. Not helpful. I tried reading other people’s novels. It just made me jealous. If there was an over-the-counter cure for writer’s block, I wasn’t finding it. It was time to consult a doctor.
I said to myself, Nora Roberts writes a new book every thirty seconds. What’s she feeding her muse? Turns out, when you are that successful, you can pay for a room full of staffers to serve you prunes twenty-four seven. Wasn’t going to happen at my income bracket.
So then I wondered, what would Steven King do? Take a job as a winter caretaker for a haunted hotel? Those creepy twins would definitely make me poop my pants, but I decided switching careers in order to isolate myself wasn’t practical for me right then.
The writing doctors weren’t helping. I decided it was time to get to the heart of the matter. What was causing my blockage?
At first, my blockage was caused by exhaustion. It takes mental energy to write, and time to daydream. I went back to work teaching full time after 11 years. I love working with kindergartners, but those little vampires will suck the energy right out of you. At a certain point I just set my writing aside, with plans to come back to it when I had the energy to focus my eyes on my computer screen.
After the second book in the series was published and school was out, my plan was to sleep. Sleep until my eyes popped open and I had the energy to push on through until the creativity was advancing again.
Unfortunately, in June, my youngest was diagnosed with cancer. For several months, being alone with my thoughts did not lead to writing, it lead to worry and fear about my child.
But no matter what life throws at us, we are who we are. I am a writer, and trying to give it up wouldn’t work. If I didn’t let my creativity out, I might eventually explode. So, once I had settled in to cancer mom life, I pulled up my rough draft and tried to peck away at it.
I eked out a sentence here, did a little editing there. I sometimes managed a whole scene, or even a rough chapter. And finally, during a two week break from treatments, I was writing again. Like a batch of grainy bran muffins, my characters entered in and started to move their stories along. I outlined several chapters, added to previous scenes, wrote a few new ones.
I still have many potentially constipating challenges ahead of me, but I know that even if I become blocked again, it will eventually pass.
I’m still working on that third book – but in the meantime, read the first two!