For those of you who are about to congratulate me for my sobriety, don’t. Although I suffer from bouts of sobriety, which are normally linked to yet another attempt at dieting, I will never ever give up the happy juice for good. (If you’re a nerd like me, you can read the explanation behind the phrase ‘on the wagon’ here) This blog is about my attempt to get back on the writing wagon.
If you follow my blog (thank you!), you’ll notice I’ve been AWOL this week. That’s right – sick again. And just like the three weeks of bronchitis in March, I’m coming back from this cold not in the mood to write. Which is a pisser since I was going strong with only a few chapters left to write in my current manuscript before being struck down by this cold.
According to the dictionary, writer’s block is defined as: the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
As a writer who has published eight books in the past three years, I know how to deal with writer’s block. I’ve got my strategies for handling that problem down pat. (In case you’re wondering, in my humble opinion, there’s really only one effective way to deal with writer’s block – Just. Keep. Writing.)
But coming back from an illness doesn’t feel like writer’s block. My characters are still talking to me. Anna (the heroine of my latest mystery) is in fact begging me to finish her story, which basically translates into a pink-haired pixie jumping up and down and stomping around in my head. Instead, I’m feeling tired and my head is fuzzy. This in fact feels like those deep, dark winter nights when my depression tries to bury me in a pile of bed covers from which I never want to emerge.
Despite the fuzzy head, tiredness, and just plain blah-feeling, I’ve somehow managed to write two chapters this week. How did I manage that? First of all, I gave myself a break. I normally write a chapter a day. This week I’ve only written two chapters and you know what? That’s okay. I’m not putting myself under pressure when I’m physically and mentally just not up to writing, writing, writing.
And those two chapters? They’re probably crap. And that’s being generous. They’re most definitely crap. I’m giving myself a break on this as well. I’m a big fan of just getting a story out and then re-writing, re-writing, and editing until I feel like the story is good enough for someone else to read. That doesn’t mean that I feel that most chapters I write are crap. Au contraire! I do several re-writes of the day’s chapter on the day itself. By the time I shut down my computer to go for my run or – if I’m lucky – play a game of tennis, I feel pretty happy with what I’ve written. This week? Not so much.
I guess the lesson here is not to be so hard on myself. I don’t need to get up on the wagon and start wagon surfing (or whatever it’s called), I can just sit on a bench and hold on for dear life. Not forever, mind you, but for a few days, there’s nothing wrong with just being a benchwarmer.