Friday, December 19, 2014

When You Feel Like Dancing

Writer's block is very real. It sucks the creativity out of you and makes you believe that you're not really a writer, but a fraud who happened to write a story once upon a time. You don't even remember how you wrote that story because no words come out of you that make sense anymore. It is frustrating and horrible and it hits you no matter how long you've been writing, or where you are in the process. It's like all the originality has been vacuumed out of you and you don't now how it can ever return.

My bouts with writer's block can last days, even weeks when mixed with dread and procrastination. I think it hits me hardest when I have a deadline that's more than two weeks away. The planner in me wants to sit down and hack at the word count a little each day, like a good writer should. The skeptic in me feels like there is plenty of time and it allows the block to set in. When it's firmly planted, I sit at my computer and one of two things happens. Either I write crappy line after crappy line and delete, delete, delete. Or I stare at the cursor, and nothing comes to mind. 

When I was in graduate school I usually had two or three stories that I was working on at any given time, and I would go back to them and read the past feedback I'd gotten from my advisors. Sometimes something one of them said would grab me and get the creative juices flowing. That would get me writing again, chipping away at the block. If I could get a paragraph out, that would feel like a major accomplishment. As the due date creeped closer, I would get more words out, and the block would lift slowly.

Since being out of school I haven't been able to use that method. I still have several stories that I am working on. However, I think the biggest difference is that I don't feel they're all equal in terms of where I should be spending my time. While I love my middle grade novel and know that I need to work on the desire line so my plot makes sense, I feel like I can't spend time on it because I owe my agent revisions to my novel by the beginning of 2015. I also have a picture book idea that keeps haunting me, but I haven't put a single word to paper on it because of my novel. This time, it feels like the writer's block is made up of a lot of words that I want to get out, but they're not in the book that needs to get done.

But, lucky for me, this round of writer's block has been broken. Thanks to a gift from one of my Allies, I felt the block lift. It was slow at first and I wrote just a few hundred words. But those words made way for more words and they kept coming. My fingers were flying across the keyboard and dialogue was coming together that I had thought wouldn't work. Characters were becoming more dimensional as I uncovered layers about them I didn't know were there. My voice came back to me and I was back in my protagonist's head, and it felt comfortable, like I belonged there, telling that story.

Do you know what it feels like when writer's block is lifted? It feels like dancing. It feels like spreading your arms and twirling, the air zipping through your fingers and hair, your mouth open to happy sounds, your feet light. You're full of energy and the music touches your soul. It's a beautiful feeling and I am so glad that I'm there, even if it's only until the next block falls and I need to figure out how to get moving again.

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