April 9 2017

WORK IN PROGRESS

Before I launch into news of my ongoing writing projects, I’d like to first of all touch briefly on the subject of writers’ block. It’s relevant so please bear with me. First of all, what is it?

Wikipedia summarises it this way:

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.

I’m sure all writers have encountered this particular demon at some point — I know I have. Repeatedly. But why include it on a page introducing work in progress? Or for that matter, why waffle on about it all? In reply to the second question I’ll quote Charles Bukowski:

Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.

And in a way, that quote also answers the first question. The simple act of writing is sometimes enough to unlock the imagination, free the creative wheel and set the cogs rolling once more. I realised this the hard way when writing my debut novel.

You see, I’d taken the view that, to be fully focussed on the task of writing The Door to Caellfyon, I had to exclude all other writing projects that may otherwise intrude on my mind and hinder my flow. Consequently, on commencing a new chapter, section or scene, I was faced with the curse of the blank page.

Even our most accomplished of storytellers know this can be a problem.

Stephen King’s blank pages … scary before he starts!

When confronted by a blank page, a writer must overcome three main fears. These lie in the dark recesses of the subconscious where they weave a thread of discouragement and subversion with which they hamstring the author and throttle creativity. These fears are:

  • Timing: The writer isn’t quite prepared for the task in hand. He needs time to think; get his ducks in a row before committing to paper.
  • Fear: By submitting work into the public domain an author lays himself bare to criticism and attack. This one factor often prevents capable wordsmiths from becoming writers.
  • Desire for perfection: If the jumble of words in mind are anything short of flawless, they’re not worth writing. And until they’re onto paper, rearranged and honed, they never are. A catch-22 problem, this one.

So what can be done? As always, the internet is there with tens of thousands of pages of tips, advice and wisdom from the worldly-wise — as well as those not quite so gifted. These usually include some or all of the following:

  • Go for a walk or take some form of exercise.
  • Eliminate distractions — so no social media.
  • Adopt a change of writing station — preferably away from a window to minimise daydreaming.
  • Read a book, listen to music or watch a movie.
  • Adopt a routine to condition the mind toward creativity — as an athlete uses warm-up exercises. This could be something simple, such as making a brew of tea or coffee.

And the list goes on. Over the years I’d tried all of these and more with varying degrees of success. Then I stumbled across the tip that finally helped.

I can’t remember the source of this simple yet effective advice, but it amounted to suggesting that the writer has several work-threads in progress at any one time. An impromptu halt to one allows for a period of diversion onto another.

Thus the writing continues and the creative juices don’t stop flowing. As for returning to the troublesome piece … well, as wildebeest preparing for their annual migration, or lemmings receiving the urge to seek out cliff tops, you’ll eventually know when the time is right. But in the meantime, you’ve maintained an output and experienced the satisfaction that comes from productivity.

You’ll know when to get cracking
Leaping into the unknown … always scary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what am I working on right now?

I’ve used the following sub-pages to outline my current on-going projects. As you’ll see, these are varied to ensure that, when fog-banks roll in stifling creativity on one genre, they needn’t necessarily cause a halt to work in general.