Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Writer's Block

I don't believe in writer's block. Or at least, I didn't. But lately I just can't seem to get anything on paper. This past fall I finished a huge writing project that I'd been working on for two years (from research to "The End" - it's historical fiction). I also had the sweet chance to work on some new licensed character stuff, and my last deadline was December 7. Then came the holidays, or as I like to call them, the hellidays. (Not true, actually. I'm a big softie when it comes to Christmas.) And did I mention I have a 19-month-old daughter (The Bean) whirling around in there?! :-) Somehow or another I've convinced my subconscious that all of these things piled into a single psyche and whirled together like a big, fat stress smoothie allows me the luxury of writer's block.

But I don't have time for stupid writer's block. I have these three characters who've been banging around in my head for four years now, and their project is finally on the chopping block. These girls are in Etiquette School, and of course, they are the least likely charm schoolers ever. These girls WOULD NOT SHUT UP when I was working on other projects. "Pssst!" they'd whisper to me over a tedious re-write of my last book. "We're MUCH more fun that that old hag! Come over here and hang with us. We won't tell those other goody-goody characters of yours that you came by. Your secret's safe with us." Giggle-titter-sputter-giggle.

So now here I am, weeks later, desperately trying to get these girls to return my calls. Nada. Have I missed my chance at hanging out with the IN crowd? Did I pass up my shot at A-list superstardom? I certainly hope not. In the meantime, I'll keep hanging out, slurping stress smoothies, clamoring for a glimpse of these bad girls. Maybe, just maybe, they'll shoot me a dirty look soon. A girl can dream...

1 comment:

Alan Gratz said...

I'm like you - I don't have time for writer's block. I used to court it like the girl next door. I'd swear I was going to write, sit down at my desk, and start cleaning. Two hours later, I would find myself in the living room fluffing pillows.

If I was lucky enough to straighten my desk in short order and actually turn on my computer, I would stare at the blank screen, willing words to appear that never came. Even if I was in the middle of a project, I would sit and tap the shift key, waiting for inspiration. (BTW, did you know that on some computers, if you tap the shift key repeatedly a little box pops up with some message about "sticky keys?" It scared the bejeezus out of me the first time it happened.)

Now, I never sit down to write without a plan. I plot out novels, I plot out short stories - I even plotted out a 400-word bio I recently had to write about myself. I now allow myself to count outlining and tinkering with a story as time well spent - which it is - and I'm able to sit down with my outline in front of me and bang out a chapter in short order when I have a few moments.

I still do hit lulls where I jsut can't think about writing. It's not writer's block, exactly, it's overweening ambivalence. The holidays, as you point out, are the perfect excuse to say, "Well, it's the week between Christmas and New Year's, and the wife is off work, and hey, wouldn't a trip to the bookstore be great?"

But those two weeks before and after Christmas, two weeks of doing scandalously little toward my writing career, really started to nag at me, and now I've got the bug again. I'm still in research and outlining mode now, but at least I'm back at the old grindstone again. There's nothing like a bit of vacation to guilt you back into working . . .