Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Walk Around the Block

Being a writer, I from time to time experience the inevitable “writer’s block”. It’s natural… especially when I have five different stories running through my head and my thoughts often divert to my kids and my homework and the kajillion papers I have to grade and the mass of emails awaiting my reply and…

So I could probably go on about everything else that steals my focus and causes me to

a) Not have time to write and

b) Not have clear thoughts about what to write

And lately I’ve found it so much easier to indulge in life’s distractions then to actually sit down for two hours and do what I’m most passionate about.


Why am I procrastinating the thing I supposedly love to do?

Why am I not writing anything new?

Even last night, as I sat down to write a new book I’m hugely excited about, I found myself type one sentence and then stare blankly at the screen for the next hour.

I went to bed and arose before dawn with renewed resolved. And then managed to bang out a whopping two hundred words.

Ugh. What? Is? Wrong with me?

A friend emailed me today with similar questions—Why is it so much easier to take care of routine day-to-day crap and even do all the little things that pop up unexpectedly while ignoring the thing she loves to do most? Why is she doing everything in the world to procrastinate writing on her book?

It took all of two minutes and the press of a button to answer the same question I’d faced myself for the past two months.


I’m afraid.

Afraid all I write is crap.

Afraid I suck.

Afraid I’ll never make it in this biz.

Afraid I won’t be able to finish what I start.

Afraid I’ve cut too much out that my story no longer makes sense.

Afraid I have plot holes and inconsistencies that someone will jump all over and criticize what I really wished to leave to the reader’s imagination.

Afraid my characters aren’t real.

Or that my voice isn’t authentic.

Afraid that what’s the point of doing this at all if I’m just going to get rejected a bazillion times.

Afraid of giving up on my dream.

But worried that I’ll never ever achieve it.

Fortunately I’ve been around this block before. While working on revisions with book number one, I took a two month hiatus with book number two. I feared I might never go back to it.

But I did.

And I finished it.

And as I write what could possibly be the most challenging and scariest new adventure in my writing career, I again experience these same fears. Afraid my male voice won’t be “real” enough. Afraid of tackling issues that are completely foreign to me. Or totally risqué. Afraid I won’t make my opening pages powerful enough. Or that the words won’t flow when I hit the middle of my book.

Fears for each and every situation.

Soooo—how do I get around the block? How do I overcome my fears?

I try to write anyway. Every day. I’ll work through it. Some days I’ll spend four hours writing a paragraph. Other days, I’ll bang out 1000 words in an hour.

And I’ll try to remember the words of the great Stephen King: “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”

I’ll write for me… because I want to write. I want these characters that live inside my head to dance across the page. I’ll write a bunch of crap. And edit it later. I’ll peck the keys till my fingers hurt. Because if there’s one thing I love more than writing—it’s reading. My stuff. My finished product. Seeing my characters come alive—again and again and again.

And while I may not be completely around the corner, I’m on my way. So much so that I’m posting this.

And then spending the remainder of the evening typing out new adventures for my imaginary friends.

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