My first book took the longest time to write because I spent a lot of time angsting over every tiny little detail of it, and backtracking all the time, although angst or not, I loved every step of the process. These days I write much faster. A couple of times though, I’ve started a story and it’s taken days just to get a paragraph down. I’m a stubborn old mule though so I generally used to try and persevere, and force myself on. Not anymore though. Even though I’m one of the write every day tribe whether you feel like it or not, and I do write every day, I don’t see any point in carrying on with writing something I don’t love just because I started it.
It got me wondering how many writers try to force themselves to write something that they really don’t want to write, thinking that their daily groan as they stare at the blank screen is simply some virulent form of writers block which will pass if they just keep on trying. These days with all of us scribblers floating around the world wide web, getting started on a new book is a lovely thing to share. We chat about when we think it will be published, and excitedly zoom on in, only to find after one chapter in, that the well has totally dried up. But now everyone knows about it, and if we don’t finish it and publish it they’ll think we’re losers, so we keep on slogging away, pushing any thought of failure out of the realm of possibility.
I don’t think that it’s failure to put aside something that you hate doing. I’ve written a couple of articles that I really didn’t enjoy doing, but I was being paid for those, so I gave them my very best. Books aren’t the same. Could it be that you decided to start writing a book because of a popular and lucrative genre you happened to notice? If you don’t actually enjoy reading that genre, you’re very unlikely to enjoy writing it. Maybe an idea you thought was fabulous a year ago doesn’t truly float your boat anymore, and you’re simply forcing yourself because you always finish what you start.
I think that if you always find it really difficult to add to any specific manuscript, and find yourself forcing yourself to find the words every day for months and months on end, it might be time to take a little break from it and try a bit of freeform writing. Just have at that keyboard and write something that makes you happy. Anything at all that brings on those scribbling joy bubbles. Maybe if you find your fingers flying across your keyboard then, you don’t have grade four hive-inducing writer’s block. Could be you just hate what you’re writing.
Obviously we can have weeks when the writing doesn’t always flow, and days when it just stops entirely. Writing on through even though the words are rubbish at times like these really does work, but if it goes on for months and months on end, then I for one would not endure the torture, and move on to another project. The beauty of being an Indie means that only you get to decide what you write and when. You can also allow yourself to shelve something for a while or forever if you choose to. You never know. Maybe finding it again after finishing something that you really did love to write could ignite a spark again. So be kind to yourself if you ever find yourself falling totally out of love with an idea, and allow yourself to move on.