Writer’s Block Party
Daily Prompt: When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?
I’ve always considered writer’s block an issue for me. Part of this issue comes from the fact that I’m still, at heart, a procrastinator, while the rest of it comes from my trouble with settling the details of a story. Sure, I can come up with the history and general storyline, and definitely the ending, of a story, but, when I get down to the ‘who does what in what order and what do they all say?’, it can be like slogging through a bog.
The funny thing about this prompt is that it references the ‘last time’ I had writer’s block. Gods, who can really say. It happens to me so often, in such varying degrees, that I could say ‘last week’ with as much accuracy as ‘last month’ (not to mention, my memory in reference to real-world things is not always that great, so it all kind of blurs together somehow).
However, I can say, with some certainty, when my most memorable bout of writer’s block occurred.
Yes, I ‘blocked’ for at least two years.
Now, I admit, part of this was down to the intrusion of real life. I graduated from university in May 2009 and spent the next couple of years job-searching and attempting to figure out where I was going in life and…
Well, I’m sure you get the drift.
However, the problem is that I’m pretty sure I began ‘blocking’ before then. I was about halfway through the story of what is now Peace of Evon: Missing Heir (a couple chapters into what will be republished as Gift of War by the end of this year) when I got to a point where I just had no clue about where I was going.
Funnily enough, I could open up one of my books right now and show you exactly which scene I was stuck on (thoroughly rewritten, of course). In fact, I might post that excerpt just to show the final results, but that will be a later post.
By that point in the story, however, my characters had recently arrived in a new province and were meeting new characters, and I was drawing a full blank on just what they could possibly do here. They’d just helped the unified Highwaymen in the previous forested province defeat the rogue highwaymen, and I felt low on ideas. After all, what could they do in a huge desert where they stayed with nomads?
So, the story got put down for the moment. Unfortunately, that moment grew to a week, then a month, then a year, and so on. And, all the while, I was still claiming to people that I wanted to be a writer.
Now, small side note: I majored in Mathematics. Odd thing for someone who has wanted to be a fantasy writer since she was thirteen, but, at the time, I figured that I liked math in high school well enough that I could study it and get a job in it and use it to support myself while I cranked my books out.
Except I graduated and couldn’t get a job. One little problem with math is that you either use it in research (didn’t want to), teaching (um, definitely not), or you build on it and become an accountant or actuary. (If any of you reading this feel (read: know) that it can be used for other things, remember that I am a procrastinator at heart, so I might not have researched all possibilities.)
So, I began to study to be, first, an actuary, then an accountant.
I hate to break it to you, but neither worked out. Or rather, the studying took up so much time, on top of the retail job I was working to support myself, that I finally realized that my real dream was being abandoned.
And that, truly, is what killed my writer’s block. The realization that if I continued trying to find a way to ‘support’ myself, I would never even begin to chase my real dream, let alone realize it.
So, I gave up on studying for things that I didn’t even want, settled myself into my full-time retail job (with a small part-time job to pay those extra small things), and forced myself back into my story.
Now, even willpower alone cannot defeat writer’s block completely. You still need ideas. And I was still stuck on that one particular scene, as well as most of what was going to happen in the desert province. However, as I have claimed before, I can write endings (or something like that).
So, I skipped ahead to what became the last chapter of Peace of Evon: Missing Heir (now to be the end of Gift of War). Then, I believed it, and the two or three chapters I wrote afterwards, would be towards the end of that story, not actually the end of one, beginning of another, but things often work out in ways we don’t expect.
Work out in ways we don’t expect.
That’s pretty much my life, actually. A life I am currently happy with, in which I am constantly reaching for my dream.