Writer’s block. It is the enemy of every writer: the bane of the writer’s very existence. More than anything, it’s so infuriating because of the sudden contrast: one moment you have so much to say you almost don’t know how you’ll say it all, and the next…nothing. It’s like being alone in a room with a close friend, and yet wholly unable to find a thing to talk about.
I’ve been suffering on and off from writer’s block for a protracted period now. As I mentioned in my most recent Writer’s Desk, though one might chock it up to recent sinus misery or a heavy workload, in the end it all just felt like excuses. I tried everything, but when one reads any piece of author advice on the subject, every successful author seems to insist there is only one sure-fire cure for writer’s block:
Write. Just sit down and write.
So, I wrote. From Day One of NaNoWriMo17, I sat down, and day after day I grunted out as many words as I could manage. And it wasn’t fun. It was loathsome. It was grueling. It was work. But I did it. Some of it was clearly forced, clearly rushed. Some of it was too one-dimensional, too simplistic, bereft of the rich description I try to infuse my writing with. Bereft of character. Bereft of joy. But I didn’t go back and rewrite everything, endlessly re-tooling single sentences and giving up in a huff. I kept writing. It was sloppy. It sucked. But I did it.
And then, somehow, something clicked.
This evening was one of my best writing evenings since I finished Wide Horizon. I wrote more of my NaNoWriMo story. Then I got an idea for my main work in progress, Pathfinder. So I wrote about 300 words of that. Then I had an epiphany regarding my rewrites in Wide Horizon. Nearly 1,100 words into that, and I’m still not finished. And I dare say this stuff is good. It’s taken me ages to actually start tackling the rewrites my editor asked for, partly because every time I sat down and tried to edit, the result just felt hollow. It didn’t feel like it belonged in that story, as though someone had cracked open Patriot Games and inserted three paragraphs of James Bond fan fiction.
It’s a supremely defeating sensation to look back upon your own work, and feel inadequate. But that feeling is past.
Michael T. Kuester is writing again. Tonight, for the first time in far too long, I escaped this world and found myself somewhere else. I could see the characters, I could hear their voices. I was surprised at where they took me, and through it all I was delighted. I’ve done some good work over the past few months, over the past year even. I’ve written a few things I’m proud of. But this…this is the way it was before, when I was churning through Wide Horizon at breakneck speed, rattling off 4,000 words a night after work. This is what I’ve been missing, this is what I had lost:
This is fun.