There’s value in hard work, elbow grease, and pushing yourself forward. A lot of people think that there’s no such thing as writers’ block, that all “writers’ block” means is that you aren’t putting your butt in the chair and typing enough. I’m actually inclined to agree with that viewpoint. If you can’t continue writing one story, write another. If you can’t get into that one, do something else that has to do with writing. If you’re brainstorming, drafting, outlining, worldbuilding, or drawing a map in crayon on your wall while hoping your wife doesn’t catch you, you’re still writing.
There is a time, however, when you have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “Does my prose look as tired as I do?” Lately I’ve been answering “yes” to that question an awful lot.
I’ve been working on In the Shadow of Legends since November 1st. Since then I’ve pounded out 140,000 words (just about 75k a month) and gone places with this novel that told my outline to go pound sand. It’s been a wild ride, but I’m getting tired. Maybe it comes with the speed of typing very quickly, or writing so many words so fast, but lately I’ve been re-reading sections of the book and feeling like I needed to get a glass of water because it was so dry. It could be that my eyes are jaundiced from looking at the same thing for so long, from dealing with the same characters and setting, but in any case there’s probably some handwriting on the wall that I need to take a break.
And I think that’s a good lesson for myself. I pumped out the Last Scion relatively quickly as well – more words in less time than I’ve done with In the Shadow of Legends – and at the end of it I added something like 40,000 words to compensate for the dry, point-to-point storytelling method I’d adopted in favor of speed. Now, in the middle of In the Shadow of Legends, I’m finding myself bored and it’s starting to show up in my writing. Not good.
I’ll come back to it after a short while, I think. I’m too in love with this story to stay away for very long, but there are a couple of short stories (and maybe some worldbuilding for other novels) bouncing around in my head that are trying to get out. In the Shadow of Legends has so far given it the Heisman, and the Type A personality in side of me is screaming “No! Finish this one, and then you can start the next one!” But that’s making my writing suffer, and I need to tell Type A to go in to corporate management instead of writing. I’ll never miss a deadline – a personal promise to myself – but I’m not operating under any right now. It’s time to start treating my writing that way.
Anyway, even just writing this post has been a little refreshing. I’ve written something that had nothing to do with my novel, and I have at least 3 short stories and one or two novels ready for something to come out. It’s about time I get to it.
Ciao, and Happy New Year to everyone!