There is a pattern to writing. And much like the tides, it is all about ebb and flow.
There are those days when stringing a single sentence feels like pulling teeth. You’re wracked by self-doubt–you’re tearing your hair out and are truly amazed that you were delusional enough to think that you could finish a 50K draft!
And then there are those days when everything is tickety-boo. You’re in the groove and your fingers are flying over the keyboard. You love every moment of it–those are the blessed days when you know that writing is your destiny!
But when you’re stuck and nothing seems to work, it’s truly a writer’s worst-nightmare-come-true scenario. That’s exactly what happened to me after I reached the mid-way point in my current WIP. Chapter Eight had me in a tizzy. I revisited the outline, tweaked it, went back to rewriting the chapter. But it just wasn’t working. I was trying too hard and it was stressing me out. Fed up, I shut off my laptop and for the next couple of days didn’t even look at it–well, the times I checked my email and hung out at Facebook don’t count! 😉
When I got about to the WIP a couple of days later, I said a quick prayer and opened the dreaded Chapter Eight. Still no luck. That’s when it struck me. You’re meant to enjoy the process. Not run scared! So I decided that I needed a week off. And I tried not to think about it at all. Believe me that’s tough–and most of the time all I could do was think about that dratted chapter.
After a week, I took another shot at it–made a couple of passes at the chapter. Suddenly, I found myself writing a scene that was completely off the charts. It appeared out of nowhere. I hadn’t outlined it, it hadn’t appeared in a dream, but I was up and away. My fingers were flying on the keyboard. My mojo was back. I have no clue how that happened or why! I was only grateful that it did!
So this is what I learnt:
It’s important to believe in yourself. And more importantly to realise that there will always be some down time. If plodding away at your WIP doesn’t help you to overcome the block, it’s OK to take a break. To rejuvenate yourself. To immerse yourself in a book, to watch a movie or two, take a walk, play with your dog and smell the roses!
Your mojo will come back–hopefully sooner rather than later. But stressing about it is the worst thing that you can do! Writing is not any old process–it’s a creative process. There’s a magic to it that’s often beyond our control. The most we can do is channelise it. So enjoy your writing and also give yourself permission to go easy on yourself.