When working on a novel I typically move through four stages: The Eureka Moment, Orienteering, Heavy Lifting, and Brain Dead. They are described below.
- The Eureka Moment– When the final cog in that baby novel, poem, short story, blog post – you name it, is put into place. Its like a rocket launch – pure energy.
- Orienteering – This is when the fuel runs out and you gather your bearings. Sometimes it takes going back a few pages to find out where you were headed or editing a little bit. Here there is still measurable progress.
- Heavy Lifting – This is when you are near the end of a draft and fleshing out the last bit of your work. The pressure is mounting and you push through with your friends cheering you on (at this point your friends might be of the imaginary sort).
- Brain Dead – After the final final final final FINAL final final! draft, this sets in. You can no longer see the trees but only the forest. Each word and page blend together and if you have to read that chapter with the sappy love scene even you cannot believe you wrote one more time you’ll vomit.
Writing has a tendency to drain you. No, at times it’s more like being mugged. If you are telling a honest and good story you are constantly dredging deep into your creative well until you are living on fumes.
I believe this is where writer’s block sets in. When you have written too much or have other stressers in your life that snuff out the flame of your creativity.
So, how can the novelist avoid writer’s block? There is no formulaic answer, but there are a few listed below.
- Live – Go outside, meet with friends, exercise, do something other than writing.
- Write at an even pace – This might sound familiar to the runners out there. When running a 5K, you don’t try to run as fast as you can at the beginning or you’ll end up keeled over at the end of the race.
- Send it to a friend – If you cannot handle editing it one more time, print it off and give it to a friend for review. This might be a sign that you are teetering toward the Brain Dead stage where all momentum stops. This will get your mind off your novel.
- Take a break – Grab a good book that you have always wanted to read and read it. Give yourself permission to allow your book to grow. Don’t simply churn out a book, only to spend hours reworking it where a simple break would have allowed the space you needed to write the book want.
How about you, have you ever experienced writer’s block? If not, what are your tricks for revitalizing the writer in you?