Have you ever been stuck when writing a book, not being able to figure out why the well has gone dry? Better yet, has your interest in your current project seemed to dissipate each time you go to revisit it?
I know there are plenty of us out there who become afflicted with writer’s block at some point – and notice I said us. Writer’s block – or whatever you choose to call it, strikes many a writer. And many of us have our tried and true methods to try to get unstuck. Often times, the best method to cure this ailment is to take a break away from our manuscripts. This distancing gives us time to work on something else and go back to our book with fresh eyes, often giving us renewed interest and ideas once we’ve taken a pause.
But sometimes, if we’ve gone back to our manuscript many times, inspiration can still seem to elude us, it may be a sign that it’s time to ditch a project. Now that doesn’t mean we hit delete on all our work or throw it in the garbage. Sometimes, the book we’re working on just may not be the right project for us at the current time. So what can we do to bring back the muse and reignite our inspiration?
Move on! We can use writing prompts and participate in writing challenges, which keep the writing chops greased. How about trying our hand at some poetry or flashfiction? Diving into something unfamiliar can broaden our horizons. It’s surprising to learn how ideas suddenly start flowing again while we’re working on something else.
But how long is long enough to wait for the inspiration to kick in when we’re just not feeling the creative love? Have we waited too long to get back to our manuscript? Have we gone back to it many times only to find we’re still not feeling the love? I ask because that’s exactly what happened to me . . .
After publishing my last book a year and a half ago, that meant I had published 6 books in just over 4 years. In two of those years I published 2 books. Writing for months, revisions and edits, book covers, formatting, marketing, eating up most of my waking life, the thrill of the final product and knowing others enjoy my work is certainly rewarding. But after my last book, I felt burnt out, and was in desperate need of taking a timeout from book writing – only my timeout was beginning to last way too long.
Sure, I did all the things I’ve recommended above, and sure there was plenty enough going on in my personal life, which kept me from progressing with my next WIP. And yes, I had a good outline to work with and had gradually written a few chapters for the book I had in mind to write as a sequel to my book Menowhat? A Memoir – The Change After the Change, a humorous look at what’s left of us after menopause. I loved the topic and had fun writing for it when I got inspired, but my inspiration somehow waned each time I went back.
I kept busy with life and other writing projects and before I realized it, my book writing break had grown to over a year. I questioned myself many times: Did I lose my mojo? Why isn’t this book captivating my interest? Where did my passion go?
My awakening – The book no longer held my interest. It isn’t a bad book at all, in fact, it’s quite humorous, and I wanted to write something humorous. I got stuck writing without passion so I looked for deterrents to keep from writing, somehow not realizing that I should just put the book aside and start something new. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel like writing another book after a long break; the problem was that I’m a pretty disciplined writer who had been living under one of my self-imposed rules – I have to finish what I start. I kept beating the proverbial dead horse, hoping to make it move. Ultimately, I wouldn’t give myself permission to move on so I continued on with the book writing drought.
It took me all that time off from book writing to realize it’s been awhile since I seriously spent some book writing time, and to admit to myself that it’s okay to move on. I didn’t have to delete my work, it’s still there waiting for me when I decide to go back to it, but I could be writing something else that fulfills my passion. Now that didn’t mean I immediately had a better idea of what else I would write about, and that still took a bit of muse time to happen. But I freed myself up to be able write something new that resonated with my passion when I finally gave myself that permission to work on something else.
Last week I was discussing my writing drought with a writing friend, and after getting some new insight, I became curious about trying out different writing styles. Since my writing seems to resonate with readers who enjoy my conversational style of writing, I began checking out some books written in epistolary style, where the author writes letters to someone as a method of conveying personal thoughts. I already developed an idea for such kind of book and as I continued researching books in this style, I was led to finding other books in similar styles, and one book leading to another – a new idea sparked again. I liked the idea of writing memories in essay form, blended with my conversational style, injected with humor. I came across a book where the title resonated with me and read the ‘look inside’ on Amazon and my new idea was sparked.
So, I’m happy to announce I am back to book writing. I even have a few titles ready for it, the one I pick will be determined by how many entries I’ll have on the book because it will begin with a number. This new revelation came to me only a few days ago. I’ve done a rough outline of topics I want to cover and have actually written 2500 words! Hey, it’s a start. The idea is there, the enthusiasm is back, and in a few weeks, I’ll see what develops, and I’ll be back here sharing more, and perhaps a rough excerpt of one of my entries. I’m back!
If you’d like to share what works for you to deal with writer’s block, please feel free to below in comments.