EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTERS AND WRITER’S BLOCK
There are a lot of posts and articles about various tricks and exercises which can be used to combat writer’s block, but this isn’t one of them. It’s really more my personal story of fighting my way back to writing after walking away from it for a while. A Writer’s life is an emotional roller coaster.
A lot of authors are very prolific, turning out several books a year, but I’m not one of them. It usually takes me an average of a year’s time to write a full-length manuscript. It takes a lot out of me, too, even though I do derive pleasure from the process when things are going smoothly. But, of course, writing, and life, don’t always go smoothly.
My fourth novel
Haunted Souls, came out the summer of 2016, and I spent a lot of time doing promotional events that summer—including signing books with an author idol, Mary Higgins Clark! Then suddenly it was October, a popular month for my combination of ghost mysteries and romance, and as usual, I overscheduled myself with both online events and author panels and talks. My writing, which had taken a back seat to a new release over the summer, stalled out completely.
For me, once that happens, it can be a challenge to get back. I had the idea, I had the first few chapters, I had an outline, I’d done the research…but I couldn’t seem to force myself to sit down and actually type words.
So I decided I would participate in NaNoWriMo…
not with the goal of actually finishing the novel, but with the goal of getting the required word count in daily, which would equate to 50,000 words in a month’s time. This has worked for me before, and as I get on a roll, it gets easier. And so I began.
It was going great. And then my Dad found a tumor, around Thanksgiving. My inspiration for word counts dwindled. I kept trying for a while, but by the time I found myself thinking “just write 100 words today”, and still dreading it, I decided enough was enough.
I have fans
who are looking for my next book, and I’m eternally grateful for that and loathe to disappoint them. But I’m also not locked into any million-dollar contract that says I have to submit a book at a certain time, either. So I closed the Word document and threw myself into other things.
One of those things was going through the final part of the college decision-making process with my older son…college visits, campus tours, etc. Then there were also the senior class events which became more frequent as the spring went on. I spoke with my Dad a lot, visited him in D.C when I was able, and tried to hold it together. He lost the battle in April, and then I set about helping plan a funeral while grieving.
My older son graduated in June
and I was determined to spend as much time with him, and the family, as I could the summer before he left for college. Occasionally I thought of my unfinished manuscript, but even looking at it seemed too overwhelming. Losing the only parent I had left, having a son finish high school and prepare to leave home…it was an emotional roller coaster and all I could do was hang on tight, savor the memories, and work on making new ones.
After my son was successfully set up at his new home away from home, I started thinking about writing again. I missed it. My characters still wanted their story told. I had over 50,000 words done already. But I was scared. Could I even still write?
I told myself I’d just read it.
One chapter a day, to get reacquainted with the story. I liked what I had. And while I didn’t exactly “write” every day, I did make changes, take notes, edit, etc., all the while letting the pieces of the plot sink back in, along with the finer details. And when I got to that last sentence, right in the middle of a scene, I just picked it back up. Slowly at first, but then I gained momentum.
So, I’m back at it, going strong, and I’m really excited about that. And very relieved that I haven’t “lost it”—I just needed time.
Book Highlight ~ Haunted Souls
Amazon Link: http://a.co/eT9CTAm
Named one of the Top 3 Reads of 2016 by Read Free.ly