It used to be easy, but now it isn’t. Writing, that is. When I started writing the first draft of The Claiming Words, I punched out words on the computer, not caring about the rules of writing or anything else. I wrote what I wanted. I lived through the characters, let them consume me, and I thought that was how it should be. Sure, my family complained about my frequent emotional absences. Even though I was sitting in the living room surrounded by kids, animals, and noise, I wasn’t really there. I lived in my own world, a world where my characters had vibrant, interesting lives which sometimes seemed more real than my own.
My husband told me to slow down. He told me it took some people a year or more to write one novel. So, why was I trying to write four books in one year? It wasn’t a race, he said.
A year to write a novel, I wondered? How could that be? When reading the blogs of other authors, I couldn’t understand why they struggled to write, or why they had to force themselves to write a certain word count. Some authors claimed they had to force themselves to write one sentence. I felt sorry for them, but in a smug sort of way. Wow. How sad it must be to view writing as a chore.
And, then it happened to me. The ideas stopped and the words became impossible to find. I blogged about it, complained about it, theorized about it, but the words still wouldn’t come. And, then one day, the words came back, but in a trickle instead of a flood. Now, I have to make myself write every day, or at least every other day.
Today, I think I discovered the reason why. Yeah, I know; I’ve said that before. But, this time I really mean it. It isn’t writers block. For a while it was, but it isn’t any more. Then why isn’t it easy to write?
The answer is: BALANCE.
That’s right. I’ve found that elusive balance between fantasy and reality that I couldn’t seem to find during that first dream-like year of writing. You know: the year I alienated my entire family. The year I thought I was supposed to be at one with my characters. The year I wrote four books.
Now, there’s a line between me and my characters that wasn’t there before. I can write, but I have to get into the “zone” first. I’m not in the “zone” all the time anymore. In terms of writing, this is a bad thing. I’ve become one of those “it takes a year to write a novel” people. But, in terms of my family, work, and personal life, I guess it’s good. Maybe.
So, has anyone else experienced the strange phenomenon of so-called BALANCE? What do you do when the words won’t come easy anymore?
8 thoughts on “It Used To Be Easy”
First, I love the song, always have; a die-hard Beatles fan here.
As for your thoughts on balancing your writing and real-life? I agree completely. My first books consumed me the same way, but not four in a year, seven years to write three. So I guess I was a mix of both.
Now I'm starting another book, completely alien to my beloved fantasy, but it's a challenge. The 'zone' is different. I still wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, or can't possible go to sleep until I've emptied my head.
Every writer is different, how they write and how they feel about writing. It was a life-saver for me in the beginning, now the writing crops up with very little inspiration, a simple passing thought can turn into several pages.
When I'm 'on a roll' so to speak, I let the roller-coaster stop on its own, there is no forced halt.
Writers are individuals, no two are alike. Attempting what someone has achieved is fruitless. Do your best, and never give up. It is a gift…putting meaningful words to paper, and not all are so blessed.
You're right, Gretchen. It's different for every writer. I know what you mean about the roller-coaster. Unfortunately, I often find myself in the 'zone' at inopportune times, like when I have to leave for work, or when I'm at work. The ideas are there, but I can't put them into words.
Good luck with your new book. It's hard to write something totally different from your normal genre. Can't wait to read it!
I was in exactly the same boat, Tricia, but for me things started slowing down because I was worrying too much about technique and plot devices. I'm starting to come out of it now, thank goodness! But it's frustrating.
Yep. It's easy to get hung up on the 'rules' of writing. I tend to worry more about the rules when I'm fighting for every word I write. If I'm in the zone, I tend to write based on emotion, but when I'm forcing myself to write, I end up obsessing over the perfect phrase or the right word choice.
I totally agree with you, Tricia. When I was writing Murder And Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction, I wrote ALL THE TIME. I stopped to pick up my son at school, (the administrators insisted) but I took my laptop with me so I could write while I waited for him. In fact, my computer went with me wherever I went, just in case I had some downtime while we were out. I took time off to make dinner, because my husband and son wanted to be fed. Go figure. But I made fast meals, and I cleaned up fast, and I hightailed it back to Goose Pimple Junction. There were a few times when I wasn't sure where I wanted to go next with GPJ1, and in those instances I switched to one of the other projects I was working on. But I was still in my “writing world.” Now, with the second GPJ book, I've had more incidents where I've had to put writing aside for spurts of time, and I've found it hard to get back in the zone after being “gone.” I find myself just wanting to shut the world out and write. But life keeps getting in the way. I'm not sure what the answer is, other than to become a hermit. Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying I agree with you!
Thanks, Amy. I know just what you mean! I used to drag my laptop everywhere (I still do). I wrote everywhere, all the time. Not anymore. I like your 'hermit' suggestion. Maybe I'll look into that.
I go through this all the time. The last time I wrote a new chapter for my WIP was early last summer. I seem to be finally heading back toward writing some more again, at last, as I've reopened my WIP and begun rereading and making some edits. When I do write, it flows easily and quickly — the 'zone' that you mentioned. I've never been stuck so badly before, but this time it's caused by not knowing exactly where the plot is going next. I have some fragments, but not all of it, so my mind churns away on a solution that hasn't yet come.
Hi Ted! Thanks for dropping by. I'm sure you'll come up with a solution soon. You're an amazing author and I can't wait to see your book in print.