A few months ago, a young lady asked me what to do about writer’s block. This was on Facebook, and my first thought was, “I have no idea.” LOL Reason I thought that was I didn’t have writer’s block, and my mind refused to think of what life without writing would look like. Since then, I have thought about it and experienced it, and I believe I have come up with an answer. Here goes. Ready?
I was twelve, and I had just started taking formal piano lessons. My teacher and my mom pushed me to “practice, practice, practice”. Figuring I was pretty good at piano already, I practiced my lesson once or twice, then went my own way and did something interesting. Just as an aside, why are we only interested in something when we feel like we don’t have to do it? In any case, the formal piano lessons stopped, and playing the instrument suddenly became something I wanted to learn. The same happened with the mandolin. I was in high school by this point, and thought if I could play the piano and harmonica, surely mandolin would be easy. Um…yeah, well, like I said, I was a teenager. After a few weeks of sore fingers, I put it away and didn’t pull out my mandolin until a couple of weeks ago. Twenty years makes a big difference.
So, what does this have to do with writing? Everything, because if I want to be good at anything, I have to practice. Baking, singing, playing instruments, writing, walking, crocheting, plug in your own skill. If we want to be good at it, we must put time into it. Time to “buckle down” as Mom used to say.
How does one practice writing? I don’t know about anyone else, but I just jump in with both feet. On January 10, 2016 I started a diary. I didn’t necessarily keep track of daily happenings, but I did write down whatever was on my mind. As the year progressed, I noticed I was writing more on my works of fiction. Then, everything stopped. It was November of 2016, a month when most writers intend to put 50 thousand words down on paper. But, I had nothing. No ideas, no characters talking to me, and I certainly couldn’t think of what to write in my diary. I put all my concentration on homeschooling my girls, spent time in reading my Bible and praying and waited.
Then, mid November, I woke up one day with characters jabbering away in my head. what surprised me was they weren’t the characters of my current work in progress. They were characters of a story I had started way back in 2010. I had fought with that story, writing scene after scene, trying to fit them together to no avail. Finally, in 2012, I gave up and began working on what is now my third published book, ‘A Moment in Time’. So, to have these characters back in my head, I was ecstatic. For days I wrote and wrote, ending up with about 35 thousand words before I began to slow down. One particular day, I added over 3 thousand words, which is unheard of for me. I do good to get 15 hundred written in a day. Some time in the second or third week of December, the characters quieted down. They’re still in my head, whispering they have more to say. For now, though, for some unknown reason, they aren’t talking.
Just to set things straight, I am currently working on 2 different novels; one takes place in the Old West, the other takes place during the Civil War. Wait, that’s not quite right. Yes, the one takes place during a battle of the Civil War, but it’s one of those stories within a story, so the other part of it takes place in modern times. Clear as mud?
On top of all that, I’m keeping another diary this year, and working on a collaborative project with my friend, Anita Adkins. She asked me several months ago for any children’s fiction that I might have laying around. I sent her some stuff, and now we’re working together on a textbook for students grades 4 to 12 on Unified English braille. We have a blog that will go live on January 19, 2017, and I’d love it if you could go check us out.
There have been days when I would sit in front of my mac book and beg God for words for my works of fiction. I would put on music from the time period I was writing about, look up articles about what my characters would be doing or wearing or talking about, and do anything else I could think of just to try and make myself write. Let me tell ya, dear readers, nothing works. Only 2 things seem to get me to writing; keeping busy and more writing. Teaching my girls, listening to them read, working out math problems with them, doing the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry and writing on other things, something about these activities opens up my mind allowing characters to start jabbering. Crazy, I know, but I’ll take it, and I thank God for it all.
Next week, I plan to write about how to practice writing. In order to get good at something, we need to study it. Now, stop groaning and quit rolling your eyes; it’s funner than it sounds. 🙂 So, come back next Tuesday, when I’ll talk about reading.
And, there you have it; my cure for writer’s block. Feel free to jump in with your comments, questions and tales of your own. God bless, and keep writing.