Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To write or not...

Writing is sort of like being on a diet. Once you fall off the wagon, it's very hard to climb back on. I've been wading across the Slough of Despond for about six months now. I hope I reach the shore pretty soon.

There are a variety of reasons a writer can fall off the wagon. A bad review. A rejection. Bad health. Family emergencies. Financial distractions. I think I've had them all in the last few months. A friend asked me, "What can I do to help?"

And I'm just not quite sure.

I'm torn between needing someone to tell me I'm a good writer--and that same someone to firmly tell me what I'm doing wrong. It's a fine line we ask our critique partners and editors to walk. On the one hand we desperately need them to support us and build our confidence. On the other hand we need them to be brutally honest about those things we need to work on. It's a tough thankless job.

Family and friends are both a blessing and a...millstone. They stand on the outside cheering us on, believing in us, exhibiting their pride in our accomplishments. But when we're floundering, they have no frame of reference to understand exactly how bad things are. As one family member said to me, "Well, go write!" There's simply no concept of what it's like to sit in front of a computer and have a blank mind.

In the last two days I've written seven thousand words. I hesitate to save the file and leave the computer lest the words dry up and disappear. Could I bear the loss again? I don't know. I only know I need to create in order to be complete. Without the creation, I'm a partial person.

There are all sorts of exercises a writer can try to get their "mojo" back. Go for a walk. Read a book...or two or three. Make some cookies. Take a nap. Take a bath. Go for a drive. Go on vacation. Spend time with other writers. Have a life changing experience. Take a sabbatical. Yep. Tried them all.

Eventually, you just have to tough it out. Sit down in front of that computer and twiddle the keys. When there are no more ways to postpone writing, then you simply have to do it. Perhaps I finally reached that place. Perhaps not. But for two days, I returned to that place, that wonderful place where words flowed and characters blossomed. If I'm very blessed, I'll find that place again tomorrow.



  1. Anny, I so feel your pain! That blank computer screen, coupled with unmoving fingers, is agony. Seven thousand words in two days - go you!

  2. The thing is we just have to keep going. Despite being sick as a damn dog I'm plunking away...slowly, but still plunking. Might sound trite but you know that old saying about walking before you can run? Maybe there's something to that.

  3. Oh, Anny! Once a writer has a couple dozen books under her belt, the ideas seem to dry up a bit. And you have had some snotty reviewers. You give a good high dose of humor in a lot of your romances, and you have fun writing. If your editor or the reviewers can't handle Anny Cook, they are a sad lot.

  4. Oh, wow I have SO been there too. And there is nothing that sucks so bad as staring at the screen with no words on it.

  5. Yep BICFOK is the only solution to the problem. It is hard but it is the only answer.
    Go for it

  6. You're a good writer and if you want brutal - you know where to find me

  7. Oh Anny, I've been there for about three months now. I hope you are on the mend. It sure sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

  8. Ditto what H said. You're the one who told me BICHOK works...and it got me through NaNo in 2007!

    But at the same time, going through this myself. Each word is being pulled from the brain like a two-yr-old throwing the tantrum of the century: 'But I don't wanna!!'

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  10. Anny....you are a great writer with a powerful imagination. And 7k in 2 days. Wow.
    My meds for the writing funk: I read an author that I really admire and that inspires me.

  11. Ah, I feel your pain as well, the words just haven't been coming as they should. I'm sure you will find your pace again. It sounds like you are off to one helluva start with 7K in two days. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the trend continues. :D

  12. anny,
    I'm late as usual and I wish I had the excuse that I'd written 7k words in the past two days. Congrats to you dear and I'm wishing you the best. Which means you're hard at work this very moment and we're all much closer to another one of your wonderful stories.

  13. Glad you're back writing. 7K is fantastic.

    Sometimes I think the brain just needs a rest. Don't be to hard on yourself.

    As my husband sometimes says to me when I don't want to write. Just sit and give it a half hour. If nothing comes, you've tried. That almost always works for me. With the pressure off, I can write. But if nothing is coming to me after a half hour, I turn off the computer and don't get down on myself.