Writer's Block
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Getting Over #Writer’s Block and Moving On – It Happened to Me

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.

 

typing

 

 

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.

 

Happiness

 

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.

 

©DGKaye

 

 

 

 

 

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Name: D.G. Kaye job Title: Author Business: DGKayewriter.com Image: https://dgkayewriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/keyboard-909156_1920.jpg Facebook Url: Facebook Twitter Url: Twitter Instagram Url: Instagram LinkedIn Url: LinkedIn Pinterest Url: Pinterest

D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

49 Comments

  • Toni Pike

    I’m so glad you’re back to full strength, Debby – and I agree, we need to take a break and recharge our batteries. I can’t wait to hear more about your new book. x

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much Toni. We all need that book writing break, but that doesn’t mean we break from writing completely. Other avenues open up new ideas. 🙂 x

  • Norah Colvin

    This is wonderful, Debby. I am really pleased to hear that you have re-enlivened your writing. I love the idea of letters for memoir writing and am intrigued and looking forward to hearing more of what you are working on. I’ve read a few books that involved an exchange of letters or emails and enjoyed all of them.

    • dgkaye

      LOl Richard, I have matching folders! I did work on 2 books twice and enjoyed the diversity. But it seemed this last writing slump wasn’t producing anything I could get excited about writing. Onward now, the muse has returned! 🙂

    • dgkaye

      LOl, I know that folder Richard! And I agree with you, working on more than one project helps a lot. I did that twice with some of my books. But sometimes, either the well or the motivation runs dry I find. And without the motivation or new idea for a book, at least we have so many creative outlets to keep our writer needs fed. But when the muse doesn’t want to come to play, it can be daunting. 🙂

  • Jim Webster

    It’s interesting what you say about the ‘episodic’
    I do write longer stuff but I find I can always just sit down, look at a picture, and have Tallis Steelyard produce an anecdote for me.
    It’s invaluable because all those anecdotes build up to produce a story collection, and so when I’m not writing something longer, I still feel I’m writing 🙂

    • dgkaye

      That’s amazing Jim. I’m so glad to hear that your method can bring you so much invention. And I also agree, when we are in surveillance mode, taking in an event, image or even words, we are secretly working in our heads, gaining new ideas. The beauty of being a writer, we can do our work incognito, lol 😉

  • Pete Springer

    I enjoyed your thought-provoking piece so much, Debby. Though I’m very new to the writing world, there are going to be days when we are more productive than others. I like the idea of permitting yourself to take a break from a piece of writing. I’m sure, like most things in life, this may mean never picking it up again. But isn’t that okay in the long run? I think if a story or thought is good enough, it will call us back at some point.

  • Marjorie Mallon

    Hi Debby. Glad to hear you’ve got your writing mojo back! I’ve not been struck by the dreaded writer’s block yet but I’m fairly new to this! Hope I keep it at bay.

  • sally cronin

    So pleased you are now firing on all cylinders.. it is a tough one. But you probably got more benefit than you realise from having those months away from it.. you have recharged your writing batteries. ♥

  • Olga Núñez Miret

    I am pleased to hear you’ve found a new way forward. I had a similar issue with some of my books, although I write mostly fiction. I wrote a part of the book and couldn’t find a way forward. Eventually I wrote a prequel to the series and that seemed to set me off again on the previous book, so you never know. Good luck, Debby!

  • Jacqui Murray

    I’m happy you’ve worked through the writer’s block. I don’t remember ever having it though there must be a reason why I started and never finished three books (now almost all published). Hmm…

    • dgkaye

      Lol, that’s your answer Jacquie. Sometimes, we just have to learn and move on. It doesn’t mean we can’t go back. 🙂 Happy 4th!

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    This was so interesting to read, Deb! And here I thought you were just taking a long break using the blog and your travel adventures as distractions 🙂 I know I could do more in the writing of my No Excuses Fitness book, and I manage to get a little done each week, but too little if I aim for a January 2020 launch. After I write this comment, I’m off to write at least for the next 45 minutes. I’m so glad you found your muse and are exploring other styles. Thanks for your candid views and great tips!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much Terri. Sometimes the little daily things in life can become a setback for many a writer. After all, our work involves our creativity and imagination. And if our mind is full of everything else, it becomes difficult to concentrate. We all need a break, and all must go at our own pace. 🙂 Happy 4th! <3

  • John Maberry

    Congrats! Seems like a really long break for me after two in 2017 (and one barely counts) but I have been working on the next one. At least when other stuff doesn’t get in the way–stuff that isn’t simply procrastination or writers block. Happy to hear your good news. 🙂

  • Robbie Cheadle

    I am happy to know your enthusiasm for writing is back, Debby. I am also writing a book in communication format (not necessarily letters).

    • dgkaye

      Hi Robbie. I’m 4 chapters into a rough draft, and still not sure about the format yet because another book idea I had was definitely going to be done through letters. And then I got another idea, lol they’re rolling out now, and changed topic, writing in conversational essay form. 🙂

  • Pamela Wight

    Yes, great advice, Debby. It was going so well while writing my 3rd novel, but suddenly – kapowee – the brakes squeaked fast. I realize now as I write this that the reason was my sudden concussion. No matter how hard I tried, I could not continue writing that book. So…. I took the break my doc insisted on and read. A lot. Then I wrote some poems. And meditated. A lot. Then I wrote a children’s book. (The illustrator is finishing up and we hope for a mid-September pub date.). I wrote more blog posts. Now I’m working on a book of short stories. THEN, I’ll be ready to go back to my novel. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the affirmation that we can unblock, by writing and creating in different ways. xo

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing your experience Pam. Not happy to hear about your concussion, but sounds to me you’re moving along exactly how I am. It works! 🙂 xx

  • Rob Goldstein

    It can take a life time to finish a piece of writing. When I find myself stuck I lay the work aside, sometimes for decades. Keep all drafts ,throw nothing out. Solid advice, Debby.

  • Mabel Kwong

    Very insightful, Debby. So true that we don’t have to finish what we have started. There were some writing projects which I have started but never finished. For some of them, writing them felt forced because I just wanted to make it to the end, even if it was just a one draft. Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed so far because well, only so much you can get out of doing something you don’t enjoy. These days when I write I try to find something I look forward to about the writing, be it the story line or the style 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing Mabel. Yes, write to inspire, be inspired. If there’s no love in it, ditch the project and revisit someday. 🙂 x

  • Carol Balawyder

    Oh, Debby, how I can relate to your post. I have been feeling demotivated and lack of passion for my novel. The thing is I already have the novel written but I can’t seem to take the next step, which is to find a professional editor and put it on Amazon. I already have the book cover and title. And, each day I would feel guilty for not writing but I just couldn’t get myself to move. Lack of energy or something. Everything else was more appealing – even dusting!
    But, I’m kind of slowly coming back – one step at a time and learning not to put so much pressure on myself.
    I am glad that you’re back and wish you lots of fun on your new project. Your other one will still be there when it’s time. <3

    • dgkaye

      Hi Carol! We are not alone, just remember that. Don’t force what doesn’t feel right yet, but on that note, if it’s an editor dilemma holding you up, I can happily recommend my wonderful ‘Canadian’ editor = Canadian funds too. If you want to contact her, please shoot me an email for details. Oh, and she’s bilingual too! <3

  • Michelle James

    Congrats on getting your mojo back. I wish I could say the same. I look at my computer and nothing! However, when I’m in the shower or in the car, my mind starts racing.

    • dgkaye

      Lol, you’re so funny Michelle. It seems our creative strikes at inopportune moments, lol. This is why I leave pens and papers in every room – especially at my bedside. If nothing to write with available and an idea appears, I pull out my phone and record! 🙂 <3

  • Deborah Jay

    Hey, great to hear you got back on the horse (not the dead one!)
    I know how you felt. I published my most recent in March of this year, and I wrote more intensely towards the end than I’ve ever achieved before, then, wham. I had no interest in picking up again once it was out there in the world, even though I have another book to go in the series yet, and I know where it needs to go.
    I took what I felt was a well-deserved break, and then life intruded and took away all my creativity, so the break extended.
    I began again a couple of weeks ago, by writing some non-fiction which was commissioned, so I needed to produce it, and then found a tiny spark of desire to write for myself again, though not the book I’d originally intended.
    I think we really have to listen to ourselves, as one thing I strongly believe is that if you aren’t writing a book you love, that’s going to come over, and your readers won’t love it either.
    Perhaps some of the big-name writers who follow a successful formula can do it without passion, simply because they are thoroughly experienced professionals, but I want to enjoy my writing as well as be successful!

    • dgkaye

      Hi Deb! Thanks for sharing your own writing journey here. Wow, it sounds like there are a few of us who encountered this same scenario. Yes, we must listen to ourselves. Of course, if we don’t feel the passion writing, how can we expect our readers to right? And about the more ‘famous’ than us, I’m willing to bet they too have their burnt out moments, but they are working on their publisher’s deadlines, not their self-imposed ones like us, and that could very well lead to a not so great in comparison to their other books, book. I think we all have our favorite authors we enjoy reading, and every once in awhile we come across disappointment in a book even so. We all have our moments. <3

  • Liesbet

    That’s fantastic, Debby! Being a writer at heart and having this as your biggest passion, I can imagine you felt a bit “lost” or maybe even desperate, when the writing wasn’t flowing anymore. And, I hear you about wanting to finish what you start. I have so many ideas (and stories started) that have not been completed (yet) and it weighs on me. Especially the memoir I’ve been working on.

    But, I have the opposite problem of Writer’s Block. I’m excited to pick it up and continue work on the next step, but I never have time for it! Or, I’m exhausted from our life on the road. Now that we are back in a house for a few weeks, I hope my excitement and time can be turned into dedication and work! Enough projects to work on as well, if this one drives me crazy. 🙂

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