I used to scoff at writer’s block, dismissing it as something people brought up at cocktail parties to sound pretentious. (I don’t go to many cocktail parties, but I’m pretty sure this is exactly what they’re like.) In the past, my problem was finding enough time to write. Sometimes I’d have a few days where it was more of a struggle but never an all out block.
I suspect my characters and ideas are always lurking beneath the surface, but sometimes, it’s really really really hard to hear them. Take these past two weeks, for instance. If I say I’ve written even 1,000 words, I’m probably lying. Not a comfortable stat for someone who cut her teeth on multiple NaNoWriMo competitions and equates success with word count. Even when I’m past rough drafts and working on revisions, things historically flow. I know Stone’s Throw into the Deep so well that whenever I do revisions, I can toss of new scenes in a few hours.
So what happened? Frankly, I blame the Olympics. Live coverage of every minute of every single figure skating event, plus the sheer awesomeness of Tara and Johnny? Too much for this girl to resist.
And I keep writing about the weather but c’mon, there’s a layer of sheer ice on the roads and some of the snowbanks are literally taller than I am (and I’m not a particularly tiny woman).
Whatever the reasons, it got harder to listen to my characters and the emerging shape of my novel. I sit down to write and all I want to do is run screaming from the room. I stare at the screen, I stream radio interviews, I check social media obsessively. I try to force the words onto the page but they stagnate and become garbled, words lost in the currents of impatience.
So the other night I went for a walk. I bundled up in my wool coat and the mulberry scarf I bought at Heathrow eight years ago. I trudged through the snow, stepping carefully so as not to slip on the ice (last thing I want is to break my ankle). And I thought, and I listened a bit.
I didn’t have any big insights, no major plot developments or inspiration, but there was something calming in the movement and the silence, the beauty of the fading light and the ice ornamenting the tree branches. Maybe it will be a reset button, the stillness a reminder that I don’t have to write as much as possible in as short a time. If I learned anything, it’s that writing, like walking over the ice, is not something to be forced.
But please, spring, come soon! (Seriously. I suspect I will find even more writing = nature comparisons in warm weather. Just try me.)