One of the questions I'm asked most as a writer is, "What do you do when you get writers' block?". It's a question I never really find that easy to answer, well not succinctly anyway.
Writers' block is a strange concept. Today my lovely writer friend Joanny @JoaOropesa asked me this question - she referred to it as 'hitting the wall' and somehow this simple, brilliant phrase inspired me to write this post. You see I always deny that I get writer's block - I think this is because the idea of it terrifies me; as if I might just wake up one day and have nothing left to say, no stories left to tell. I can't tell you how much that idea saddens me. But as for hitting the wall....
Yeah, I hit the wall all the time and the way that I deal with it - I walk away from it. I'll give it an hour or so, labouring over a scene but if it's not walking, I close the file and do something else. I never know exactly when I'll return; it might be an hour, a week or even a month - it's never gotten past three before. I use the time to go and read some of the awesome books I have gathering dust in my TBR pile. I return to my notebooks and re-read them. I go to the bookshop and buy history books to do more research. I sketch out plots and ideas of other books. I increase my blogging, play with my website, design my cover, interact with my readers - you see, I'll do pretty much anything but agonise over my MS.
This doesn't mean I've left it body and soul: you carry your stories with you. I daydream the settings I've invented, chat to the characters I've created - because I know that the story will come, the wall will suddenly develop a door - and then it will just be a matter of waltzing right through it.
I think in these modern times of indie-publishing and networking, there can be a terrible sense that all of our writer friends are cleverly spinning out works with ease. It only seems like last month when they published book one of their series and already they are getting ready to release book two. It can sometimes feel a little bit like a race. I give myself a stern talking to about this. I'm happy they can produce talented work quickly - but it's not who I am. I've always been a four hour casserole girl over a stir-fry. It's taken me four years to get the first two books of my series out. Book three is coming along nicely - although on saying that, I haven't touched it in a fortnight.
So - this wall business. You've got to find your own way. You can determinedly bash it down brick by brick wielding a big hammer. You can spend your day scrabbling up it and for every three steps upwards you take two down, or like me you can turn around, enjoy the flowers and the sky, have a chat with those standing around you - and just wait for the door to appear.