When I started my current (second) novel, I was all momentum, all burning excitement. Twenty thousand words practically wrote themselves. I was on a downhill sled with the wind hitting my face so fast that it chapped my lips and watered my eyes, but damn was it fun.
That was mid 2013. After about 20k words, I put it on hold so I could focus on finishing my first book. Then I had to edit, and I wanted a break for a couple months to recharge, so I didn’t pick up the second novel again until mid 2014.
I got on my sled and did that thing sledders do where they push with their feet, scooting bit by awkward bit towards the precipice where gravity would then take over. But nothing happened. There was no hill, just flat ground. The words that came so easily before were stuck.
I got up and started trudging. That’s how it felt to write. Every sentence, every word, was like lugging heavy boots through thick snow. I gave myself a challenge, dedicating an hour every day for one month to this story in the hopes that the block would come out. That I’d find my hill.
But I didn’t. And by the end of those 31 days, I felt relieved to call it quits.
I didn’t touch the book for nine months.
During that time, I wrote several short pieces that I liked a lot. I (again) edited the bejesus out of my first novel and started researching publishing.
This February, I opened up that file again, assuming the long break would have charged my batteries.
What happened?? I still love the premise, the characters. I know where to go next in the plot, so I’m not stumped. (But I’m not so rigid that it’s formulaic.) I have no other big projects calling my name, so I’m not distracted. And, a luxury that so few writers get, I have the time.
I’ve written more shorts that have poured out of me. But my novel? Trudge trudge trudge.
It hasn’t been all bad. I’m at 42,000 words now, and there have been moments of beauty. Scenes that flowed. Dialogue that made me grin as I wrote it. Last time I wrote, an important scene flowed out of me that I’d been stumped on for ages, and it felt so good.
Yet when I open up my laptop to write, my boots feel heavy. It feels like work. It’s been easier this time than it was during that one-month challenge, but it still feels like something I have to push through, despite the fact that I genuinely, in my heart and soul and guts, love this story.
Maybe trudging’s not so bad, because trudging is still moving forward. Though I do miss the wind in my hair.
Tell me about your worst writer’s block. How did you cope?