Being a writer is awesome. I would not swap it for the world. Writing this novel with an equally talented and brilliant writer Lionel Roy has shown me just how amazing it can be. Everyone knows that, as an occupation, writing is up there in the danger stakes. Many times, I have been told to go and get a 'proper job' and leave the writing as a hobby.
Now when I was younger, I took that advice, went to university (twice, no less), got a series of administrative jobs which I (mostly) enjoyed and then saved some money to get me a house. Now that the credit has finally crunched and my savings could not even buy me a cardbox never mind the 3 bed masionette I really wanted, I decided to return to my first love and have not looked back since. Ok ok, I am still looking for employment only so that I can make enough money to go on a trip that could possibly make or break my flegding career as a novellist...again I digress (you will find that I do that a lot, I would apologise, but I would only annoy you when I do it again...)
Writing this novel has been an amazing experience. However, there have been some moments of sheer teeth gritting and hair pulling frustration. The novel started out in an 'organic' way i.e. we just started writing and see where it would take us. There was no plot, no discussions about the characters, I mean there was not even a title (that came later after much debate...again!) but somehow we have managed to write about 60,000 words and have another 20-30,000 to go in the space of about 2 months or so. The way that everything came into place, although allowing us the freedom to be flexible and change, meant that when we got stuck, we got very very stuck.
That kind of happened about 2-3 weeks ago. We had written a huge amount but there came a part in the story where a complicated series of events needed to come together to a sensible and realistic conclusion. We experienced a great deal of difficulty in becoming unstuck from this writing rut. So what did we do? Well I will let you know. Now again, I will put a disclaimer on this and say that these suggestions/approach may not work for everyone as I am speaking from personal experience and perspective but I hope that they help give some insight to the problems faced by many people in the writing (and in the creative) world as a whole.
Firstly, we talked about it. Communication is key. Now, because this is a joint work, we had been emailing daily so this did not come as a shock. We spoke about it, discussed it and played with some ideas. Some were great, some were spectacularly bad and others were just inapplicable and inexplicable. But what the process did was to help us and provide us with information, notions etc that we had not come up with before. Doing this enabled us to get over ourselves and head back to the story with renewed vision. For you, you may need the advice of a mentor, a family member or a friend. Tell them (briefly) what the problem is in the story, you will be amazed at what they come up with.
Secondly, we took a little bit of a break from it. For about 6 weeks, it had been intense, 7-8 hours a day writing, going back and forth firstly from MS word to Google docs (a godsend). However, it seems like our brains just had a shutdown and writing slowed down almost to a halt. It was then that we decided that we took a step back to gain new insight and get new ideas. If you are stuck in a particular point, sitting in front of your machine, cursing it will do you no good. Get up, take a walk, have a coffee, watch Judge Judy (a huge favourite of mine) for an hour, two hours, half a day even a day, whatever suits you. Give yourself a time to return or you will find it difficult to come back.
Next we did a little research on the plotline/characters we were stuck with. We discovered a whole lot of stuff that we then incorporated into the story. Sometimes, real life can be better than fiction, so do not be afraid to use it. Do not let your comfort zone stop you from discovering a new plotline, adding depth to character or injecting new perspective into a boring situation.
So there you have it. It certainly was not rocket science, it was a process of learning, communicating and development which has only enhanced the book, in my opinion. So I can say that having writer's block (albeit a mild case and short lived) has been the best thing to happen for our novel, Im not sure if Lionel agrees, but he can leave me a comment, as can you...
Best of luck on all your writing endeavours...