It happens to us all. You’re sat at your laptop or with your pen poised and … nothing. You don’t worry. You sit and gaze wistfully out of the window for a while (this is essential writerly behaviour), waiting for the words to flow freely once more; to babble melodically like a mountain brook. Time ticks by and the tiniest flutterings of panic begin to brew in the pit of your stomach, which you aim to resolve with another chocolate digestive. Tic toc tic toc …
ARGH!!! Your creativity and imagination have packed up and gone on some retreat to Tibet, for ever. You are never going to be able to write another book again. EVER! You are a failure. Yes, you may have had your first book published but that was a fluke! It will never happen again. Never. The wistfulness turns into wailing. You had it all planned. You were going to be a successful writer – you were brimming, nay bursting with stories to tell. You fool you (and no, it is no longer the first of April). How naive you have been.
You contact your writer friends who are all far too busy to speak right now, bye! I mean, it could be contagious after all! You make an urgent appointment with your GP. ‘I have WRITER’S BLOCK!’ you screech. ‘Help me!’ ‘Perhaps a nice cup of tea and a lie down,’ suggests the helpful GP.
You trail home, fling yourself dramatically onto the bed and then decide you deserve to torture yourself by looking at Twitter and reading about every other author on the planet’s success – awards, book number twenty just published and has become an overnight bestseller, film deals, breakfast TV appearances … the list is endless. ‘I’m not asking for fame and fortune,’ you snivel quietly. ‘I just want to write.’
Now, as with the common cold, some of us can shrug it off in a couple of days, some of us find ourselves with a pile of soggy tissues next to the bed for a few weeks. The same goes for that most hideous of ailments, ‘Writer’s Block’. And as with the common cold, there is no escaping it. It will strike like a poised snake ready to sink its venom into your delicate writer’s mind.
But, here is the good news. As with the common cold, it will go away. Honestly. Those busy little beavers who have built a dam in your brain to stop the flow of words will eventually move on and the dam will start to fall apart. And that’s when those wonderful words will once again begin their mellifluous journey. Your fingers will begin to tingle, your heart will begin to quicken and quicker than a snotty sneeze you’ll be back at your laptop/notebook churning out glorious sentences and announcing, ‘I am a writer. Hoorah!’ (this will be followed by a celebratory slam-dunk of your chocolate digestive into your tea/coffee).
So I’ll end with my top tips for beating the dreaded, yet unavoidable, writing slump:
- Sweat it out for a bit. Stay hidden under your duvet with a good book until the worst has passed.
- Forget about your current manuscript – write something completely different: a short story, a piece of flash, a blog entry.
- Go out for a walk, preferably somewhere peaceful, somewhere that will invigorate your senses. I spend a lot of time wandering around the cemetery, reading the names on the headstones. Only last week I unearthed an old coin and that was it, the spark ignited, a new story began to bubble and brew.
- Stop worrying, it really will get you nowhere (ugh, I sound like my mother). But it’s true. The more you worry, the busier those little beavers will become.
- Don’t torture yourself by reading about others’ successes, instead, remember that they too have been right where you are.
- Don’t lose sight of why you want to write (forget about awards and fame and fortune). You write because you couldn’t not write, right?
- Don’t try to write what you think publishers want or you will be wallowing in the writing slump for a very long time. Write your story, the one that grabs you and gets you into that slightly manic frenzy. I raced home after finding the coin in the cemetery and frantically wrote notes in my notebook before the ideas fluttered away like a delicate butterfly (tip – carry your notebook everywhere. It makes for a far more pleasurable writing experience than having to run half mile to find yourself grappling with your pen in a breathless, sweaty mess).
- Believe in yourself (which I know is virtually impossible when you’re in the throes of the writing slump). But, believe that this will pass, just like that pesky cold passes. You will write another story and although we writers must strictly avoid all cliches, hey, I’m going to rebel and dare to say ‘good things come to those who wait’.
Before you know it you’ll be saying, ‘Writing slump? Hell no! I got me a golden nugget!’ whilst leaping out of bed at 4am …
Now, as this is my last blog post on here *sob* I’m cheekily going to leave my little nugget here: ‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’, available on Amazon and http://www.fireflypress.co.uk *scuttles away shamefaced*