Have you ever been hopelessly stuck on a creative project? I sure have. For all the times I bragged about how I never got writer’s block, I’ve sure endured it enough times now to be sick of it. It’s such a frustrating feeling, KNOWING you want to create and yet feeling stymied by your own brain.
While blundering about trying to solve my latest writer’s block, I found an unexpected solution–try writing something completely different. Think it sounds crazy? I did, too, until it worked for me.
Writer’s Block from Heck–but Just on My Novel
I had been spinning my mental tires for nearly a month on my novel. I felt increasingly silly about continuing to write it; I was beginning to lose faith in my ability to write it, and in the strength of the novel’s themes and ideas itself. Some days, I couldn’t even bring myself to open the file.
But, it seemed, I was perfectly able to do other creative stuff…like the hilariously teenagerish fanfiction story that was simply busting to come out of my head. It was like a hyperactive bunny in my brain–it would not leave me alone. I resisted working on it for a while because I wanted to use that awesome energy to write my novel…except that the hyperactive energy all drained away when I tried to work on my novel. I had no idea why this was happening; I was bewildered.
Last Resort: An Unusual Writing Binge
Finally, I began to write the fanfic instead, feeling guilty all the while–but it was like eating a bag of chocolates after a month of trying to force veggies down my throat. The fanfic progressed by leaps and bounds, in the way that my novel had in the early days; it was exhilarating. I hadn’t written like that in what felt like years.
Eventually (about 40 PAGES in!), I came to a point in the fanfic where I wrote a character development piece similar to one I had done in my own novel. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just plagiarizing myself or falling back on a cliche, so I went back, found the similar development in my novel file, and started reading.
…And reading. …And reading. Page by page, I began to fall back in love with my own novel.
Wait, What Just Happened Here?
It was an “OMG!” moment, a “Eureka!” moment. It was like I was rediscovering why my novel was awesome all over again. What I had effectively done was to take my brain out of the infinite loop of “gotta write this novel–ugh, I’m afraid this novel stinks–gotta write this anyway,” simply by focusing on a completely different creative project. The fanfic, as crazy and silly as it was, was also so very different in scope that it allowed the “noveling” part of my brain to shut down and restart.
Letting my brain go wild and write what it so desperately wanted to write (even if I had first deemed the project “not worth my creative time”) was the key. It got me writing again, after being horribly stuck. Like being towed from a muddy ditch, I emerged from my month-long struggle quite disheveled, but ready to go on the novel again. It just took remembering that yes, I COULD write well, and no, writing did NOT have to be an uphill battle.
The Moral of This “Novel” Story…
…If you’re absolutely stuck on one creative project, it is not a sin to start another one. Do whatever you can to get the treads of your creative mind running again!