I’ve been in a relative state of writerly constipation, if you’ll pardon my disgusting terminology, for a while now. Just under four months now, actually.
I’m not sure what the reason is, or what the fix might be, but I got some very good advice from my main writer dude yet again.
The best part is, he does it without even knowing.
My “main writer dude” is, of course, Dean Wesley Smith. He’s a generous, experienced writer who feels that, because he had help from a lot of great writers when he was coming up as a young writer himself, he wants to pay forward the good stuff he’s learned along the way.
He did a post a few days ago about how he’d found himself making his newest book “important,” and how, when he did, he froze up. The writing dried up, and he couldn’t write.
He tried a few things before he stumbled on the idea. When he did, though, after forty years of writing experience, he knew exactly what to do and how to get through the blockage. For new writers, or less experienced writers, this isn’t as easy. And I suspect it’s a bigger problem for writers than they might realize.
Making the writing “important” means you’ve attached extra special attention or value to it. Not “important” as in “long-term value to literature,” but “important” as in, “It’s important for my career to finish this book,” or “It’s important for this series to get this book finished,” or even something like, “I need to finish this book or else I’m a failure” kind of “important”.
So, I read his great list. He had several items – a dozen or so items on it. (You can see it here.) And I could tick off six without a stretch. Just right off based on his verbiage. I was applying six of those items to this latest WIP, and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t produce anything. A few thousand words a week, maximum.
Then, later, when I mentioned the writer constipation in a comment to him, he told me if the writing has dried up completely, it’s probably because I’m completely in critical voice mode. The creative mind can’t write anything if you’re in critical voice mode.
So the effort should be on figuring out how to get out of critical voice. I have to also figure out how I can marry creative voice with outlining. That might be impossible, but if it is, I’d like to find out because I have a lot of outlines I can work with if I figure out how to do that. How to make writing fun again, while being at least a little guided by an outline.
I guess that’s less important that learning how to have fun writing again. It was very fun when I wrote the last one. I just need to remember how that felt and looked.
But the critical voice is the biggest source of block a writer can face. If you’re having trouble getting anything through your fingers, this might be why.