The title kind of jumps out at you, doesn’t it?
Most would immediately conclude that I’m talking about writer’s block, and sure! Why not? It’s a fairly popular excuse for when one isn’t able to get any work done. Whether it’s starting that fantastic project you’ve been dreaming about, or finishing the one that you’ve been working on for years, whenever something gets in the way it’s always that dreaded block.
You might notice that I labeled this as an excuse?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s as mythical an ailment as is having a Brain Cloud. In the years that I have been writing, I have never sat before a blank paper, physical or electronic, and not been able to put any words on the screen.
Occasionally the story is a bit more difficult to draw out, but you can get around that. Whenever I feel like my keys aren’t clacking away fast enough I write about something different for awhile. Maybe it’s a scene that I’m fancying for another story, or perhaps I’ll just sit and describe something that’s in the room.
And, believe it or not, when that doesn’t work, I pick up my favorite book and read a few pages. It really does help to experience a story through another writer’s perspective!
I think it’s because your mind gets tired after a time. You have this wonderful story to tell, but before you can share it you have to formulate thousands of words into coherent sentences. It’s not always as easy at it sounds. Sometimes the words just flow, you’re in the zone and they are pouring from your soul. Others it’s a labor of love. The story is there, but you have to coax it out word for word. Either way, it takes hours, days, and months in order to make that happen.
Self publishers, such as myself, have to take it to a whole other level. Once the story is complete, only then does the true work begin. Ahead of us are several dozen, to hundreds, of hours more of editing, formatting for different platforms, book covers to be made, and more! But wait, that’s not all! Even when you have put down the pencil, when you have typed the last keystroke, and you have uploaded it and placed a tag on it, then do good times roll.
You see, because now you have to get your book out there. Simply having it for sale on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or whatever platform you have decided to go with, doesn’t mean that anyone is going to buy your book!
How is anyone going to buy something they’ve never heard about?
Marketing, Social Media, and Book Signings, these are all things that you have to continuously work on in order to remain relevant. You may have the greatest story out there, but how are you going to get sales if nobody has heard of them? You have to stay relevant, you have to BE relevant, because you are literally swimming in a sea of authors, writers, and entrepreneurs who have already found their niche in this particular market.
Oh, but how I digress!
This isn’t where I want to go with this particular post, so forgive me if I try and steer it toward the subject that prompted me to write today.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I also labeled it as an excuse, and rightfully so.
Don’t you see? Writer’s block is what we fall back upon whenever we can’t see the reason of us not writing for what it really is. You’re not blocked, writer, you’re merely distracted. You’re thinking about your kids, your bills, or your next meal. Perhaps you’re tired, or maybe the weather outside is beautiful and you would rather be enjoying it?
There are a hundred thousand million excuses that you could put in front of your unfinished work, but when it all boils back down to it, it’s not the fault of some little beastie that you’ve given a title to. It’s a distraction that needs to be removed, it’s an indulgence that needs to be fulfilled, or it’s a tired mind that needs a few moments to rest.
I’ve had my own issues as of late to deal with, something a bit more personal than I’m proud to admit, but they’re something that have been crippling me over the last few weeks. And perhaps I’m overstepping my bounds here in the virtual world, but I don’t know what else to do about it at the moment. Writing is my form of self healing, and I think that if I am able to do this just right, I’ll feel a little better in the end?
I’ve been suffering a building sense of depression, an overwhelming sadness at times to things that would not have bothered me before. My emotions have been boiling, cooling, flooding, and ruling my day to day actions.
I put on a brave face each morning, (or in my case, night), before I go in to work at a place I have begun to loathe over the last few months. I enjoy what I do, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve also begun to see the other side of the veil. I have realized that no matter how good of an employee I am, no matter how many numbers I put out, I will never be appreciated for what I do. I have not since day one, and even though I have become the equivalent of three employees in experience, due to a recent pay increase for starting workers I am payed less than those who have just come off the streets. Even though my production tripled over my second year of service, I received a review less than that of what I did in the first.
It’s hard to put on a brave face at night any more when I would rather be at home creating. In my books and stories, I know that my work is enjoyed and appreciated. I know that people look forward to seeing me in the form of my next project,
When I am at home, my time is consumed with balancing my writing and keeping my house up and running. Some days run smoothly, but having a three year old who needs constant attention, on top of everyday household chores, makes those days few and far between.
I don’t sleep more than twelve hours during the week. Because my wife works and my three oldest are in school, I must also take care of their needs, lunches for the next day, dinner, and keeping everyone happy until she gets home. Some days are fairly early, but with her business, those, too, are few and far between. Often times, she doesn’t come home until late and I am going to work on only a couple of hours sleep I stole early on in the day.
I have been doing this for a couple of years now, but it’s getting harder to see how I am going to do it for much longer.
I’m finding myself more deeply affected by things than I used to be. In particular, and this is the distraction that has slowed my writing as of late, I have been mourning the loss of a character whom I have gotten to know over the last seven years. Because this character is for a popular TV show, and not all of you may have seen the episode yet, I won’t go into any details about it only to say that there was no need for the producers to kill him off.
It seems silly, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how much it hits home for me. This character was a good friend in the series, someone I enjoyed seeing on a week to week basis, as well as someone I could see myself knowing on a personal level.
There isn’t anyone like that in my life anymore. There hasn’t been for several years now. It wasn’t by choice, I once had several people whom I called family, but in one cold decision they turned their backs on me over something that was just as much their fault as it was my own. Since then, I haven’t let anyone get as close to me as ‘they’ once were, not even a fraction as much.
Now, my only friends are either those I create, or those I visit in another story.
Sure, I have my wife. She’s my best friend, the love of my life. I have my children, but I am their authority figure and teacher first. It’s not the same thing. One night a month, she goes out for a few hours with her girl friends and I can’t help but feel a bit jealous, a bit sad, and a bit lonely.
Because of our schedules, I rarely see her anymore. Maybe for a few minutes throughout the week and because the weekends are so jam-packed with activity, every free moment that we do have it spent in competition of the children’s attention.
Some days I feel as if the weight of the world is bearing down on me. No, that’s not quite right. It’s more like I have been suddenly teleported to the bottom of the ocean, and several million tons of water are crushing in on me. Some days it’s hard to breath. It’s hard to look into your eyes and say; “Yeah, everything’s good.”
It’s not, I can tell you with the utmost confidence that it definitely is not.
I’m working hard to make it better. Everyday that passes is spent working on making the life that I want to have. But, how much longer do I have to wait? What more do I have to do in order to finally get it? How the fuck am I going to get out of this mountain of debt that’s drowning me?
All questions I have no answers to.
So I keep going. I put on my uniform, and I go into to a job where no matter how good I am, I am nothing more than an expendable resource.
You can’t quite tell, but I’m rolling my eyes
in excitement over the new uniform policy…
I come home and hope that I can get at least three thousand words written through all the distractions ahead of me. I continue to practice good housekeeping with my social media, finding public settings to showcase my work and whatever else I have to do in order to stay relevant, and I make it happen.
You see, in writing this and talking a little about myself, I wanted to show to you that a writer’s worst enemy is always his or herself. By showing you my own weakness, I have lifted the veil to something that isn’t as mystical as it sounds. There is no such thing as writer’s block, only a crack in the armor we call willpower, and which we allow ourselves to focus on way too much for our own good.
I’ve only shared a tiny sliver of the pain and frustrations I’m feeling. There is so much more to my story, but you needn’t concern yourselves with that. Just by sharing what little that I have, I’m already feeling a little better. I’ve broken through my distraction and I can feel the words a-comin’. Soon, I will look over this long rambling article, edit it so that it’s at least a little presentable, and then send it on to you. From there? Well, I guess it’s on to something completely different!
See what I did there? I’m putting on my brave face.
I 100% agree with your sentiment on writer’s block. I never had an issue with vomiting words onto paper, but I can understand how someone could perceive that they have writer’s block (if that makes any sense). Sometimes if you write yourself into a corner, or if you haven’t projected enough into the future of the story — issues can certainly arise. Especially if you don’t have any creative momentum to back you up.
Improvisation is a great skill to acquire. Do you improvise a lot of your work? Or do you plan everything out in advance?
I have no experience when it comes to self publishing, but I know how difficult it is to promote. I haven’t diluted myself into thinking it’s a simple process — you have certainly proven my assumption to be correct, as well as the little experience I have. I look forward to more advice on this subject!
Friends? Where we’re going, we don’t need friends!
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Most of what I do is improvisation. These stories, they are often an F3 or greater storm rolling around up there, and it’s all I can do to get them out. The only thing I ever plan in advance are characters. I have dozens, if not hundreds of character write-ups stored away in my secret notebook, all waiting for their chance to shine. Sometimes I find one that sort of fits into a story and I only need but tweak them to get the right feel. This was the case for Scott in my ‘She Has A Pretty Face Though’ webseries. His original concept called for a very specific affliction, whereas in the story, we see him evolve into something more.
I’ve been putting some thought into a self-publish series, maybe I’ll start on that soon? If my experiences can help my (gifted) peers, I’d be more than happy to go that route.
*laughs* I read that last line with an accent.
If you have time and feel like putting in the effort — I’d surely tune into a self-publish series. I’m sure others would appreciate it as well.
I tend to start with a concept in regards to stories. For example: beauty is only skin deep, or: We are our own worst enemy — things like that. The characters bubble up from the primordial creativity as time goes on. I do have a few characters that came before the concept, but that doesn’t happen often.
That was a good post. I don’t get writer’s block and I agree, it is a personal block often from daily things. 😉
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Thanks OM, it’s nice to know there are others who feel the same way. 🙂