I "met" Michael Chrobak in a writer's pod on Instagram. I read his novel, Foundations of Faith, and loved it. You can read my review of it here. His second book in the series, The Paladin of Panama is on my TBR list. You will be hearing from a few of the writer's I've met on social media during this series. They will be sharing parts of their writing journey, tips, and anything else they want to share. So, keep an eye back here every Monday for new content. Michael is sharing his thoughts on writer's block with us. Have you ever had it?
When I was first approached about writing an article for Heather’s blog, I thought, “But I don’t have Writer’s Block. What could I possibly say on this subject?” Then I began to think if I don’t experience it, why not? Am I special in some way? Are there writers who have it, and others who don’t? I had to find out! (Yeah! Research project.)
I read posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts about this, and I discovered two things. 1 – I’m not special. There are quite a few authors who don’t experience this phenomenon. And, 2 – Writer’s Block isn’t real.
Oh, sure, it feels real. Like, you want to write, but you can’t. The words won’t flow, or when they do, they’re really, really bad. I also found there are two divided camps on how to address Writer’s Block, which I’ll discuss later. But, first, why do I say it isn’t real?
Let’s say you’re a painter, and you sit down to paint, but, sadly, you have no paints. Someone left the tops open (oops!) and they all dried out. Now, until you go get more paint, you can’t paint. You want to, but you can’t. The paint won’t flow. Would you call this Painter’s Block? Nope.
Same thing if you were a sculptor and you had nothing to sculpt. Or a chef with an empty pantry. This isn’t a block; it’s simply a lack of materials with which to do your work. And it’s the same thing with writers. You aren’t blocked. You’re just out of supplies. So what do you do? That’s where the ‘two divided camps’ that I talked about earlier comes to play. Here’s what I mean.
The first camp I call the militant approach. This is the philosophy that says if you aren’t writing every day, then you’re not a real writer. A writer must sit with pen and paper, or at a typewriter or computer, and they must write. Every. Single. Day.
The second camp I will call the dreamers. These are the people who say they can only write when they are in the mood. They’ll hide behind the excuse that their muse isn’t active unless the stars are in alignment, they’ve coated themselves with essential oils, and their caffeine levels are in balance.
Two camps, two radically different approaches.
So which one is right? Neither. And both. Writing is a process, not an act. The process I use may not work for you, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean either of us is wrong. We just need to find who we are and what works. For me, I find I need to listen to my characters.
Most of the time when my words are dragging, or my writing speed slows, it’s because of one thing: I’m writing, but I’m not listening. I’m telling my characters what to do, how to do it, and how to feel about it. I’m not listening.
Case in point. When I wrote The Paladin of Panama, I reached a climax where I suddenly realized one of my characters was about to die. I hadn’t planned on that happening, and this character is fairly important to the plot. Plus, this is only Book Two in a series planned for twelve. Now what?
I struggled with it for weeks, and during that time, I wrote very little. Was that Writer’s Block? Not at all. I had the words; I just didn’t want to use them. I went back and changed stuff I had already written, trying to avoid the situation. I tried to have someone else die instead.
How did I finally resolve it? I let them die. Why? Because I was excited to see what the rest of the characters would do next. And, I’ll admit, I would never have guessed the direction the story took from there.
Now my process includes days when I don’t write. I will spend time thinking about the projects I’m working on, and I’ll draft some story options in my head, but I won’t write. I believe it has made me a better writer. But that’s my process. What’s yours?
You can find out more about Michael @ http://www.michaelchrobakauthor.com
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Get his books: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-John-Chrobak/e/B01NCJ7L3F