“I’m a hack.”
“I’ll never finish my novel. Even if I do, it’s a turd with no literary merit.”
“I hate my characters and I don’t even HAVE a plot.”
“I wish I could just start over.”
“I think I’ll quit and try again next year.”
Sound familiar? I know I recognize that tune. We’ve all been there.
Hello, Don’tRead faithful. We have a lot of laughs on the blog, but today I’d like to talk to you about something that’s never funny:
Nocturnal Emissions, I mean writer’s block.
Those participating in NaNoWriMo call it ‘week 2,’ but I’ve found week two to be a pan-artistic psychological phenomena. Basically, it’s where projects go to die.
Week 2 is a period of time during the life of your manuscript wherein you second guess every decision you’ve made up to this point and every decision for the future. Despite its name; week 2 can last anywhere from 2 to 20 days (in my experience) during this time you will feel self loathing, self doubt, outright shame, laziness, fatigue, or psychosomatic symptoms.
I know, sweetie. It’s hard. But this is the place where real writers prove they ARE. And it’s your chance to do the same.
But I don’t expect you can do it alone; writing is a solitary art, but just like the Village People said, “No man does it all by himself. So, young man, put your pride on the shelf.”
So I’m gonna tell you about some things that can help you make it to the other side of the ‘week 2’ phenomena:
THE YMCA – THEY CAN START. YOU. BACK. ON YOUR WAY!!!
- Musical interludes aside–music. Music is a great jumpstarter, but everybody’s taste is different. On the other hand, most people like to think of their novels as movies and a band called E.S. Posthumous composes A LOT of the music used in movie trailers. They’ve got songs for every mood and really help your writing feel… grander!
- Next, Alcohol! Yes, I’m a bad influence and a horrible person, so shut up. But seriously, Alcohol, for those of us whose age and religious preferences will permit, lowers inhibitions and thus helps ease the self-doubt momentarily. This one is best used sparingly–know your limits and be safe–you wouldn’t want to be unable to hit the keys, would you? But it helps to feel a little like Fitzgerald and friends on the sauce.
- An exercise which can be really helpful is one about which I posted at the start of the month: Break something. Real life or in your art, I don’t care. Find something and snap it in two. put a horrible, misshapen nonsense word in the middle of your manuscript. Kill off your main character and bring him back on the next page with no explanation whatsoever. Free yourself from the shackles of perfection!
- Every other year, I pretty much write my entire manuscript using WriteOrDie.com–a fiendish little creation that reminds you to write. The settings are adjustable, but I recommend you live dangerously and try the one that starts deleting your words unless you keep typing!
- Self care is usually one of the first things to go during times of stress, but that’s when it’s most important. Eat right, sleep, snack, and take breaks.
- Wake up an hour early and go to bed one hour early. This’ll give you some extra time during which you can focus exclusively on writing.
- Use your Community! Meetings, forums, blogs, whatever–commiserate with fellow writers! As the bard said, misery shared is misery halved!
You know what separates real writers from wanna-bes? You’ve heard it before–real writers WRITE. It’s that simple–it’s a verb. So as long as you write, you’re a real writer. Pencils have erasers. You can fix mistakes.
So go make some!