Writer’s Block. We are warned that we all get it, that the solution is to, well, write. Put the words on the page, even if it feels like a slog. The advice often sounds as if writer’s block is like “the wall” in a marathon. By mile ten, most people have used their circulating blood sugar and have to dig into reserves in the liver. By mile twenty, “the wall,” the liver’s depleted, and we get into the ineffable, gauzy advice about reaching deeply into one’s self for the last 6.2 miles.
All of which makes sense for marathons. At least for the ones I did. I mention this because I came to a halt, a standstill, in my novel #5, which I’m calling Cyberstorm. I tried the forging ahead thing, and it didn’t work. It took me a while to realize that I needed to understand my characters and my plot ideas better than I did. Once I settled on some details I’d overlooked, the words began to flow again.
I have not been plagued by writer’s block. I generally skipped over the myriad blogs, papers, podcasts, and articles about it feeling vaguely superior.
Then I ran into a wall with my current novel, Fatal Cure. The plot is complex. I’m a hybrid writer … I do outline, but only broadly. Within the broad limits of the outline, I’m a pantser, letting the character and situation drive the story.
Nothing seemed to come together. “Write, just write something” didn’t work; the something I wrote was clunky and uninspired. Frustrated, I tried more outline detail: spreadsheet detailing what who was doing to whom and when, calendar of events, and so on. Nada. Rien. Zip.
Finally, just to do some writing calisthenics, I picked a character and a situation in the novel and forgot the outline … And, of a sudden, the writing flowed again, and the outline seemed to make sense.
Feels like the time I almost capsized a canoe … frantic countermoves to try to offset the oscillations. No forward progress. But when I stopped trying to control the situation, the canoe settled down … and then I could make forward progress.