Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hamish has a Blockage

I take the stand that honesty is the best policy, and if I am going to be perfectly honest with you, that would result in the admission  of something I've never admitted. To be quite frank, I have what is commonly called Writer's Block. My case probably springs from being out of practice because since finishing the rewrite of Fly Away Home, I haven't put my mind to any particular project, having too much to do before my trip. But I can't really deny the fact any longer:

"Hamish has a blockage."

Joy and jubilation. Throwing of rose petals and all that. I discussed my problem with my all-wise sister-in-law-ish friend, Abigail, and here is our conversation in toto: 

  • Abigail Taylor

    This does not surprise me, since you refused to tell me your project yesterday. It's your guilty conscience haunting you.
  • Rachel Heffington

    no, its the fact that I haven't written since January, seriously at least.
    and all my projects seem stupid.
    and I don't know how to make interesting and original plots.
    and I say hang all agents
    and I am penniless and broken down and dull and listless
    I need Vitametavegimen
  • Abigail Taylor

    Hmm. let me take case history. How long have you been having this crisis?
  • Rachel Heffington

    since getting ready to go to Romania
  • Abigail Taylor

    I diagnose that prior to Romania, your experiences had run dry, you were in need of inspiration. And now, post-Romania, your inspiration is still too raw and elusively poignant to translate into adequate words
    Trivial words will not do, weighty words will not come, and there you find your condition
  • Rachel Heffington

    oh. that is spot on. how'd ya know? marvelous, for real! 
  • Abigail Taylor

    And so I would prescribe a refill on living, and let the words bide their time. Perhaps even channel a bit more drawing and painting for now!
    Trace what won't be spoken

Her diagnosis was frighteningly accurate. I don't know how she does it, but she does. And so I am going to take her advice, and not try to push the thing. Oh, of course I'll keep writing--my brain explodes if I don't--but I'm not going to push for over-the-top productivity, or pushing out a story that isn't ready to come yet. I am going to wait and live life, and expand creatively in other directions. Sooner or later, I think the blockage will fix itself. But till then? Well, some prayers for inspiration and revived pizazz would not go amuck.

Actually, upon closer inspection, I really do think my writer's block this time comes from having too many elusive, poignant inspirations. A wedged gob of overload. Let's bide our time and see what comes out of this hash!

Now what do you do when faced with writer's block? Let's discuss ideas in the comments below!


    Joy said...

    Ah! I can understand (and having been quietly sensing it from your blog these past months) but I sympathize so much, Rachel! For since last year when I wrote a short story for my library and got it published my writing life has been turned upside down. I first missed my original novel, The Crown of Life, desperately... and then I started writing, getting ideas, editing, seeing new ways in which the story could develop, and then I got stuck - I could not do this the ideas, the elusive inspirations which were really deep and poignant were stuck and buried in me and I could not bring them out. I started to doubt what I was doing, I then decided that perhaps I should work with my short story into making it a novel alongside with The Crown of Life. Come November, I really felt I had to lay down the treasure of my novel because it was just too much of a beautiful, unbearable burden that needed time and prayer and thought and experience. So now I have gone and started writing in that 'short story' into making it a novel - and yet, I've been suffering from this elusive thing constantly, simply because I can't see the big picture - I can't take hold of anything that makes sense... but then, here like you are going through, and your friend's wise suggestions - it sometimes needs a ;refill on living, and let the words bide their time' - so true! Praying the Lord blesses you with inspiration and ideas and also to be able to bring into words the things which you have seen and heard and felt in your heart into the beauty of the written word. I believe God has a wonderful story for you to write soon! Just wait on Him.

    Chloe M. Kookogey said...

    "She had not yet done with dreams and laughter and the joy of life; there were to be future words for the novels; meanwhile, they could wait. And over the river in purple durance the words bided their time."

    A somewhat lopsided paraphrase of the closing lines of Anne of Avonlea, since I can never hear the expression "bide their time" without thinking of it.

    In all honesty, though, I'm in the same boat as you. These past few months I've been so busy with schoolwork and dance and housework and other tasks that my progress in Rifles, both in research and actual scribbling, has been sadly lax. It seems not a week goes by that I don't resolve to finish my work diligently that I might spend my time up to my elbows in ink, and then the week passes with little in the way of writing. I think Abigail made an excellent point, though — fill yourself up on life and all its little joys, and you'll find writing to come much easier. In my case, it means accepting the fact that I won't be able to get back to my various WIPs until the school year is out, and not trying to wrestle with it. Such is life, I suppose: there's a season for everything. But I've no doubt your blockage will smooth out in no time, Rachel — you've never been one to have much difficulty getting your land-legs in a book. I'll be praying for you. :)

    Anne-girl said...

    I tend to gripe for awhile and just keep writing? Walks are good and in dire straits I adopt a bunny for awhile.

    Esther Brooksmith (wisdomcreates) said...

    A hearty "hear, hear!" to Abigail.

    But just know that I eagerly await each blog post that you do...

    Pen Wilcock said...

    Routine is often helpful. Writing fiction comes from the subconscious, dreaming mind, which is shy and feral and won't deliver up its stuff unless it is certain it has space.
    So I'd recommend to set aside a time - say, every Wednesday or every morning from 5-9am - and ensure you will not be interrupted: lock the door, turn off the phone, and do nothing else but write.

    Another way of getting things rolling is to commit to writing a certain amount each day: I would go for 1,000 words, but I've known some people who just ask of themselves one sentence. Do it without fail. Sooner or later the subconscious mind comes up with the goods.

    A third thing is, never (but NEVER) discuss your story with anybody before it is written. The subconscious mind needs to get that stuff out into the world; once it's told, that's it - the bird has flown. the subconscious mind has done its job and won't play ball any more.

    And a final thought: if you sit and daydream about your characters, just write down what they are saying and doing. Don't worry about starting at the beginning of the novel and working through - write any scene, start at the place that feels live to you. I write like making a patchwork quilt - I craft the patches individually and piece them together in due course. I find that stimulates further ideas as the pattern of the pieces begins to emerge and become coherent.

    Hope things come together for you soon. Disregard any of this if it doesn't work for you.

    Rachel Heffington said...

    Wow, thank you all so much for the feedback. Great ideas, all. Ember, I was especially struck by your comment about story being written in the subconscious mind, and speaking about it being damaging. I can see now that it is quite true: talking about your stories usually is more detrimental than helpful. And when I'm on top of things, I do have a word-count goal of 1k a day, which generally builds into more, as you say. :) Thank you so much!