It’s all there. You have a story planned, perhaps not all of it is in place, but you have the stepping stones to take you most of the way. Perhaps you know where it will end. It’s all flowing quite well, (that’s very well in writer speak.) You may have discovered a few twists and turns on your journey that you hadn’t foreseen. One or two of your characters may have stood up along the way and sent you down the path with renewed strength. They may have shown you more scenic routes or even a path you did not know that was there. It’s a big adventure. You know where you’re going and it all rocks. Then you hit the glass wall.
You are there in it with your characters. Urban or rural, past or present, intimate or remote. Whatever the setting, you know what milepost you have to reach next. You may be able to see it, tantalising in the distance. A horizon beyond which is the next stone, but something stands up and gets in the way. The more you try, the worse it gets and you end up standing still. What can you do?
How do you find the map, to plot the way round? Sometimes you can manage to nudge the plot forward a tiny step, but it feels nothing more than a slide along the side of the glass wall. You feel you’re still treading water. The view can get blurred or perhaps the path looks even further away. Mentally, you feel exhausted, barren or strained. Maybe all three. You push for progress, yet nothing happens.
It’s not a new phenomenon. J K Rowling didn’t invent it when she hit the wall during the writing of the Half-Blood Prince, for example. Nor did she make it fashionable, unless you happen to be a tabloid journalist. I don’t think she’d wish it on anyone, to be honest (writer’s block, that is – not tabloid journalism). It’s a shock to the system, an unbearable tension as you wish to move on, but can’t.
Writing is a mood thing. You’ve got to be in the mood to do it any justice. So many things happen to us in our day to day lives which can upset the balance and influence us. They may be the kind of things that quench the free spirit and suppress creativity. We try to be stronger and push through, but there’s nothing in the tank. We have to recognise that you can’t just switch off the outside. You could be tired, you could be stressed. You could just be distracted by greater priorities in life. Don’t panic, every writer gets that moment. Don’t forget your labour of love is your work of art, you wouldn’t turn the marathon into a sprint, certainly not in its early stages.
Do we feel we are cheating ourselves or flattering our ego by thinking we are cheating our audience in this lack ofproductivity? But maybe, just maybe, if we were to give ourselves a bit of time, leave everything be for a while, perhaps we’d come back fresher. Like having that long sleep after a series of sleepless nights. You feel so much better for it.
The block is there for a reason. Your mind isn’t ready to take the story further. Give it a rest, relax. Let it go.
Recognising the block for what it is is a good start. Then realising you can’t just take a run at it. Take your time, take a break if you need to. Move onto other projects. You can always go back later, it will be still there, waiting for when you are ready.
I’ll stop now. This has taken seven days to write. Too much going on, obviously 🙂