Do you think Shakespeare ever had writer’s block? If he did, then that’s at least one thing we have in common. This last month has been a blank when it comes to writing my novel, the sequel to The Darkest Hour.
Admittedly, this sequel (which I can’t think of a name for yet) has been harder to write than the original, in part because it’s written from a male point of view. The Darkest Hour is written from Princess Rory’s point of view. With Rory’s story, I could be her. I was in her head and feeling what she was feeling. Often when men write female characters, I want to gag at the stereotypical or very unnatural way they portray them. I think women writers are just as guilty of messing up their male characters, hence my nervousness at choosing to write from a man’s point of view. (It’s Raymond who narrates this sequel, in case you were wondering.)
But despite the difficulty in finding Raymond’s voice and keeping it somewhere in the realm of realistic, I had created a story that was fun and exciting (and needed a lot of editing, because it’s a first draft) until last month when I finally reached the pivotal scene in the story. This is the scene that I first imagined before any words had been written. It is the scene the main character has been heading towards the whole time. It’s been in my head in a very dramatic and heart wrenching way for months, possibly years. So, when I got to this scene and put my hands to the keyboard, all of the sudden, nothing was there.
I lost all motivation, desire, or emotion towards the story. I couldn’t even open the file on my computer. I was at The Scene that defines the whole plot and character arc and I couldn’t write. Why? Why? Why?
I know part of it was due to some feedback I got that wasn’t easy to take. Yes, I know writers have to be ready for rejection and bad reviews, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and just as I got to this scene, I got some feedback that wasn’t remotely sugarcoated. I, of course, questioned every life decision I’ve ever made, ate too much Nutella, and didn’t even try to make myself work on my WIP (work in progress).
Instead, I focused on other aspects of the writing process. I have a few beta reads I’ve been doing, and since I’m behind on them, I really focused on reading and giving helpful feedback to these awesome writers. I wrote “fun stuff” which are stories that I want to write, even though I know the characters are unbelievable, or the plot has more holes than a sponge, or there’s more backstory than I could ever include. (Sometimes I post these kinds of things on the blog.) I also relaxed, and didn’t worry so much about word counts, plot points, pacing, and all the other things that were bogging me down as I worked on my WIP.
As a week passed and I couldn’t even bring myself to open the file for my story, I worried, What if I can never finish? Then another week passed. And another. It seemed as if Raymond would be stuck in limbo forever.
Then early one morning, while I was running under the constellation Orion, I let myself think of Raymond and where he was. (He was stuck in a supply closet in a hospital by-the-way, which would be a terrible place to spend eternity because your writer couldn’t figure out how to get you out.) I let the story flow as my feet hit the pavement, and by the time the stars had begun to fade, and my breathing had returned to normal, I knew the words that needed to be written. Over the next two days I got my main character through this most important scene, and I got myself out of the doldrums of writer’s block. If feels so good to be back.