I Can Still Write Lists

I Can Still Write Lists

Today, I decided to go back to my current WIP, Bloodied Wings. Not because I’ve forgotten why I put it aside. I haven’t. In part, I decided to go back to it because I figured out an endgame that reconciles my protagonist with my ideological beliefs.

In part, I decided to go back to it because I felt like my characters were hammering on the inside of my skull trying to persuade me to write them again.

And yet – and yet when I sat down to it, with the first draft open in one window and the second in another, it was unutterably difficult. Taking words I’d already written and making them slightly better and bringing them in line with minor plot changes over the course of a few paragraphs was difficult. Improving sentences by just one word or punctuation mark was difficult. I had the previous version right there, and I couldn’t even make anything out of that.

How, then, am I to make anything new?

I had thought that this bout of writer’s block was passing. I wrote two essays in the space of four days this week, and a couple of poems — poems being a rare occurrence in my life these days. It seemed like now would be a good time to go back to the process of fiction, and unlikely to feel like running my head into a brick wall. Apparently not.

Reasons Why Writing Is Hard Right Now

  • Since my sleeping patterns are completely ridiculous, I went to bed at 2am last night. This was mostly because I forgot until half past one that I actually had something to do this morning, and was expecting a lie-in. Alas, no. As a result, I’m now tired.
  • I’m cold: sitting at my desk with my feet braced against the radiator, fingerless gloves to warm my stiff and shivering fingers, and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. Typing with cold hands feels like twice as much effort as typing with normal-temperature hands.
  • Putting a novel aside and not even thinking about it (in the middle of a paragraph towards the end of a chapter) isn’t exactly conducive to picking it up easily.
  • Since my character has yet to reach the endgame state I’ve got in mind, I’m still struggling to deal with all her messed-up thoughts and behaviour. Getting inside her head feels pretty tricky.
  • Half of me feels like I should probably be doing some of my work so that I don’t end up taking quite so many library books home over Christmas and inevitably ending up with fines for losing them.
  • I’ve spent the last few days reading and watching Buffy and it has lulled my brain into a state where that’s all it wants to do.
  • My brain’s doing weird things at the moment and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what emotions are and how to deal with them. I also have a ridiculously short attention span and can’t concentrate on things, which is really impractical for most purposes.

Reasons Why I Want To Write Anyway

  • There are stories in my head. And characters, too. They’re not necessarily the ones I’m trying to work on at the moment, or even ones I can work on at the moment, because of research and nasty things like that. But my creative brain wants an outlet.
  • I’m bad at emotions when I don’t have writing to do. It’s how I process things.
  • It feels more productive than watching lots of Buffy when I want a break from work.
  • Despite her many bad points, my protagonist does interest me. I think she’s complex, and I enjoy watching exactly what rises from the ashes every time she gets burned to the ground: the more broken she is, the more she shines. I want to see how that pans out as I go through this second draft and into the first attempt at book three.
  • I also think this is probably a good book, or can be, in time.

Things I Am Currently Better At Than Writing

  • sleeping
  • watching Buffy
  • re-watching Black Books
  • reading
  • buying too much bread every time I go near a supermarket
  • wandering around Waterstones, ostensibly looking for Christmas presents for family members, but only succeeding in adding books to my Christmas list
  • writing lists
  • (no, really, I’m very good at lists)
  • avoiding doing the washing up
  • resisting the urge to take a bubble bath right now

Okay, maybe not that last one. Pretty sure that’s what I’m going to do as soon as this is done.

Writing is not coming easily, hence why this blog post has largely deteriorated into meaningless and uninteresting bullet points. I feel like someone’s scooped that part of my brain out with a spoon — not the part that makes the stories, you understand, but the part that turns them from pictures into words. Because I have scenes, sometimes like entire movies, but I can’t figure out how to write them down. I keep repeating them to myself in the hope that I won’t forget them before I’m capable of keeping them.

It’s frustrating, to say the least, especially as I thought I was overcoming this block. I’ve thought about tackling writing prompts and attempting to write something like short stories, which isn’t my usual style, but I almost don’t see the point. What I’m trying and failing to write is novels. I thought having time to read and absorb some words and stories would help with that, but I’m not sure that it hasn’t made it worse. It’s given me fodder to write some book reviews, if I ever get around to it, but I’m not sure I know how to phrase those, either.

If you have any advice on overcoming this kind of block, I would be interested to hear it.

7 thoughts on “I Can Still Write Lists

  1. Ugh, writers block is the worst. I got stuck on my last sci-fi rewrite and I do feel mildly guilty, but I totally tossed and abandoned that book. But I realised it was probably actually a sequel. (Which is an interesting realisation.) Soooo I figure if I go ahead and write book 1, maybe the sci-fi will come more easily?!
    I have no idea for overcoming writers block except…write. :( I used to hate it when people said that to me. But I have to let myself write wild and messy and just absolutely SUCK and then the writing comes.
    I’m always cranky if I’m not working on a project. ;-)
    Lists are life.

    1. I’ve done the whole ‘wait, this is a sequel’ thing multiple times. This trilogy started out as the third book, back in like 2011/12. But yeah. Nothing is happening right now.

  2. Instead of trying to write all the right words see how awful you can make it – on purpose. Write the worst scene, chapter, ending you can imagine.

    Another trick is to pull down a book you like and open it up and copy it (type or long hand) for a chapter or two or until you need to stop and write your own stuff.

    Writing blocks suck. And I hate when people claim they don’t exist.

    1. Yeah. I spent a long time not believing in writers block and I think it’s important to remember that it’s usually a symptom of something else, not solely a magical writing affliction – that it’s the result of underlying issues or whatever. But that doesn’t make it any less blocky. :/

    1. I have tried the whole walking thing, and the basic techniques for beating blocks and stuff. So far they haven’t worked particularly well, but that’s partly because it’s absolutely freezing cold outside and my brain is too numb to think of ANYTHING after I’ve been out there a few minutes. (Winter. Winter is not conducive to going for nice inspirational walks. WHY.) I’ve been thinking that maybe exercise of some sort would work… perhaps I should go to the gym? But I am not really the exercising type.

  3. As above, I’d recommend some exercise. Going for long, cold walks always wakes me up, I find, but if it’s too cold for you then it may not work.

    I also find that reading helps me out, too. Gives you a voice in your head and inspires how words might do the things you want them to do.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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