January 04, 2011

I got flow, baby

I get questions all the time about how I deal with writer's block. I don't have a method, mainly because I don't believe in hitting a mental wall so hard, the words stop flowing. I'm not discounting the trials and tribulations of other writers who struggle to put words on the page. We all have our experiences, and our methods for staying productive.

Mine is simple: Write anyway.

That's not to say that I haven't struggled. I've stared at my manuscript and thought, "What the hell am I doing?" And always I come to that point in a book where I think, "THIS is the book I will not finish. Just because I've written eleventy others, doesn't mean I know what I'm doing."

I've talked about doubt and fear before. Those little bastards can drill into your brain like earworms, whispering, whispering ... about how much you suck. Well, there's always someone somewhere who thinks I suck. So what? I still have to finish the book. I still have to make the deadline. I still have another book to write after this one. Dear earworms: Shut up. YOU suck.

I get in my own way all the time. I'm the queen of procrastination. I can find multiple reasons why I must play Rock Band and/or clean the bath tub instead of make word count. It's stupid. It's ... so not cool. But there I am, with drum sticks or sponge in hand, drumming or scrubbing, and thinking about the book. Which is wonderful an' all except I'm not psychically capable of using Word yet (but that would be awesome, right?).

I also know that as much as I futz around, I'll still do what needs to be done. I know that if I get stuck, I need to re-think my direction. Sometimes, it means going back and rewriting an earlier section, or introducing a new character, or I need to dump the plot thread and start over. Eventually I figure it out--sometimes because I'm doing something else, such as playing drums or scrubbing the bath tub. (Justification, just another thoughtful service provided by yours truly.)

Eventually, I sit down, suck it up, and write until my fingers go numb and my eyes get red, and I forget to eat. The words flow because, as Chuck Wendig says in The Penmonkey's Paean, "This book is not the boss of my shit," and damn it, the novel gets done. Because it has to. Because this is my job. My dream. And writer's block and earworms cannot stop me.
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