Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wrangling The Muse: When the story just won't be written...

Most, if not all writers know the dread of Writer's Block. You sit down at the computer (or with pad and pen, for those who prefer the old school) with your coffee (or water, or whichever beverage you prefer), filled with energy and enthusiasm to continue or start the story... hours pass and you've still done nothing more than check some emails and get distracted on Facebook or doodling in Paint because the story just will not cooperate. 

The dreaded Writer's Block can strike for any, or no, reason at all. Maybe it's too hot. Maybe it's too cold. Maybe there's too much noise, or not enough. Maybe it's a Monday (come on, we ALL hate Mondays!!). Or maybe we're waiting for something, and can't keep our eye off the clock, no matter how hard we try to distract ourselves. 

I get it all the time. Seems Alana just isn't in the routine of being nice yet. She helped get The Wolf In The Neighborhood written fairly quickly, considering how busy I was at the time, but now that I have taken time from my reviews specifically to write (not helped by the fact our Adobe suite on the desktop doesn't want to work and the laptop freezes the moment the internet is connected), she has gone on vacation. It isn't fair. I have... *pauses for mental tally* one novella in progress (to be followed by the final in the series), plus a short story, two novels and an anthology of my own to write, and in the past week, I've managed a sad 800 words. In a week. At my best, I can easily manage close to 10k in that same time. So why am I having no luck?

My theory is that, because I don't have the reviews to take my attention, Alana doesn't feel threatened, and is therefore being lazy. Not to mention the plan to move from the unit to a house. Moving, or even just planning to move, is never helpful for productivity outside the activity of moving and planning. Especially when the people you need to talk to have an attitude and don't do their job because of some imagined issue. 

But enough on that. I want to know how you deal with uncooperative muses. Do you go do some other activity (productive or relaxing) until you're ready to try again, or do you sit down and battle them out? Maybe you try to write something else, like a message to a friend, or blog about your frustrations at trying to write (like I currently am). Maybe you read through what you have so far in the hopes it sparks it off again, or write the synopsis if it hasn't been done already. 

I do a combination of these, depending on the story, the day and my mood. Sometimes I'll sit and battle with Alana for a while, usually reading through the story so far, or playing a scene in my head that involves the characters, but won't necessarily be in the story, just to get an idea of the characters more. Sometimes I'll give up and go read, or play Lego Pirates of the Caribbean on Wii for a little while (a highly addictive game. I've finished it twice, tempted to start yet again and try for a third time), or even bake some muffins. When Alana was still cooperative with my sketches, that would sometimes help. 

A possible solution to the block for myself, at least, is also photography. I do need to practise with the Nikon after all. But alas, Australian summer and me are not a good mix. I dehydrate too easily and am prone to heat stroke. So I have to be careful when I do go out in the heat. Besides, the cat would 'yell' at me for leaving. Little bugger. 

So creativity of other forms is another possible solution to writers block. I know some who will go exercise to break past the wall. Music, shopping, movies, reading, distractions of all sorts. Different things work for different people, and can even differ from day to day, and story to story. So what works for you? I would love to hear what works for other people when they are struck with a famine of the words.