Get To Work

Most people have the standard job, with set hours. They know exactly what they’ll be doing from day to day, week in and week out. Then there are writers. We are a strange bunch. Our hours are sometimes carved out around the day job, family responsibilities, and the sense that we’ve lost the thread of whatever project we’re working on.

That last problem has sidelined more than one project before it truly gets moving. We call it writer’s block. Talking about being unable to move forward from a particular point on social media rarely gets sympathy. The usual reaction from those who have never experienced a blockage in the creative process is to suck it up and get back to work.

Well… it’s just a little harder than sucking it up and getting back to work. In fact, I wish it were that easy.

Imagine, if you will, having to create a world in which you combine real life people with fictional characters. Your first job is to develop those characters, even those who have made an impact on the real world, whose lives were or are so exciting that their inclusion in your story is a must. This particular of the writing process is more than saying she has blue eyes and blonde hair, or his six pack could and had bounced quarters nearly to the ceiling. Physical attributes are good, but in order to have a well-rounded story, we need to know motivations, their past, what drives them and how that contributes to the plot. Often times, an author will create the basics of a character and add to that development as they continue through the next part of setting up a book.

You know what your main plot will be. Some of the sub-plots might also be swirling around our messy filing cabinet most others call a mind. A few of these plots might be written into a document and saved on our computer, while the others are swimming in the murk, attempting to pull themselves to the shore and present their “ah-ha!” moments, so we can decide whether or not they’re important enough to include in our book.

To overcome all those plot points demanding their place in our latest book, we will resort to setting up locations and scenery. Ah, the easy stuff—Not! Location and scenery is far more than physical description. We always have to ask ourselves if this information is important, does it add to the story, move the main and sub-plots along.

With all this in place, with our characters named and their role in the book clearly defined, we’re ready for the blank page of what will become a manuscript in however long it takes us to write the book. And that blank page often produces a blank mind. This is when the first writer’s block hits the author. Their fingers are poised over the keyboard. Their myriad of notes are scattered over a desk and firmly locked into other documents. And yet, one part of our preparation process has just taken a walkabout, to quote a few of my Australian friends.

What’s missing you ask?

The brain’s creative processes have withered. They’re on vacation. No matter how hard the author tries, nothing is forthcoming.

This is classic writer’s block. There are many cures mentioned by those who have successfully overcome this disease. Write junk you’ll throw out. Binge on your favorite candy. Take a long run. Go shopping. Do anything not related to writing, including scrubbing walls and floors in your house.

Each of those solutions has its merits, but the sad truth is that until your characters are speaking to you, until they are ready to commit their story to electronic bytes, you may begin the story, but it will need reams of revisions before it’s reader ready.

Oh, for those of you who aren’t writers and think telling one to “get back to work.” Might I suggest that if you’re having a difficult time on your job, if you aren’t in synch with what’s required, think about how you’d like the same thing thrown at you.


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