What I Learned Writing My Novel: Writer’s Block and “breaks”

I am going to regret writing this.

There is no reason to not be writing, unless you are not a writer.

There’s a grain of salt there. If you have a full time job like I do, it will and should come first. (So I write at night) If you have a family, they will and should come first. (So I write when my son has gone to sleep, usually when me and my wife are getting our me/her time) A vast array of complications will arise. People will get sick, loved ones will pass away, tragedies will occur, water heaters will bust, cars will break down, jobs will be lost, a plethora of perfectly reasonable and unavoidable circumstances. (I’ve had two colds I can remember this year, so I can’t claim any of these)

A lot of people say writing is just like having any other job, and they’re right, but it’s a flexible job. It’s a job where you can always make up the work you haven’t completed and where there’s no boss to hold you to an attendance policy. You set your own schedule, your own goals, and your own requirements. It’s not even like owning your own business where at least the requirements of dealing with customer, vendors, industries, would set you into doing it a certain way.

The danger is in the slippery slope. I took a break in February or March from writing my second book. This was another in a long line of writer’s block episodes I should have recognized. I was “working” on Sorcerer Rising. I put this sarcastic quotations around that because it was off to a few of my beta readers. There was other stuff I was doing, I’m sure, but I can’t remember what it was, so I wonder how important it was.

Two months later, I realized I hadn’t written a word. That’s around the same time I stopped writing on this blog too. Because of this “break”. The second book should have been off to beta readers months ago, as it is, it’s not even at first draft.

Now, as I am getting ready to publish Sorcerer Rising, I haven’t written much at all in the past months. A few hundred words here and there for the second and whatever I’ve added in the editing of the first, which I don’t even count.

I have had no reason not to write. I hate the idea of the muse. That you have to wait for their visit to do anything. Writers tend to fall into one of two categories, Order (architect) or Chaos (gardener). Either way, the muse shouldn’t have much to say in it. If you are an ordered writer, than stick to the plan and see it through. If you are a chaos writer, then write something and see what grows from it. I have an outline to give me a framework, but I barrel through it, challenging it to survive whatever ideas burst from my head while I’m writing. Each and every card on the board has to earn its spot when it comes up in the line.

I don’t know how much or when you need to write. What I learned for me though, was that if I don’t write, I won’t write. I’ll let it slip, a day, a week, a month. Stephen King says he writes ten pages every, damn day (he wrote on a legal pad while while recovering from a near fatal encounter with a van’s bumper). Joe Konrath says to write when you can, mainly due to all the things I listed above. Dean Wesley Smith writes like eight thousand words a day, apparently everyday.

When I feel gummed up, like nothing will come through, I move on. I have talked again and again about my cork board and my outline, that’s why I love it so much. I’ll go back to it and brainstorm on where the story needs to go. I’ve had my best ideas walking around my living room at three in the morning in front of my cork board talking to myself. I keep a regular word count (or did) and set goals for myself. 

I needed to write this because I haven’t been taking this advice and because I’ve wasted a lot of time. I left two novels unfinished because of the myth of writers block. I took nearly five years to complete this one because of it. I’ve now allowed the next one to flounder for months.

So if you have that novel waiting to be finished, take it down already. Slay that dragon. Hopefully, you won’t beat me to mine.

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About enathansisk

My name is Nathan Sisk, and I am a writer and aspiring author.
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