Since moving, I’ve struggled to get back into my writing habit. I’m managing to keep my blog going although dropping the schedule I followed in 2018 has also had an impact – looking back it’s clear that some of the posts are not great – but I now have two rough ideas for a novel/novella which are currently stalled in draft purgatory with no signs of moving anywhere fast.
I am blocked and uninspired.
Now, I could blame many things for this; that I no longer have a separate desk and a nice adjustable chair, that I don’t have a separate space for when I’m writing, or that I’m just too busy with other things. But these are all excuses.
Ultimately I’m being crippled by my own fear of failure.
A couple of years ago I used NaNoWriMo as a way to push myself, a way to be held (somewhat) publically accountable, and to provide a focus. I met the word count but didn’t have a novel, more the structure of a story and some under developed characters, but it was a start. And I kept it going for a while but then I started to get blocked, stuck wondering where the story should go next, and my character notes kept chopping and changing (to the point I was wondering if I should rewrite and change the focus to be on a secondary character instead).
A while ago I had another vague idea for a story and, on the premise that NOT thinking about Novel 1 whilst I started Novel 2 would actually help me progress Novel 1 at some point, I leapt straight in, only to get blocked on Novel 2 because it wasn’t that great an idea in the first place (or maybe it is, I don’t even know anymore as I’m second and third guessing my second and third guesses).
So I stepped away from writing all together (interestingly I don’t consider writing blog posts the same way I think about writing ‘creatively’), and then life got busy (in a good way) and well loads of other reasons/excuses can be offered to justify why I’ve barely even thought about Novel 1 for over a year or so. All excuses, I know, if I was really passionate about this I would find a way, right?
Now, you may be asking (presuming anyone is still reading) why the hell am I writing a blog post about this? Well because it’s:
- A public acknowledgement of my ‘failure’
- A way to give myself a kick and hopefully regather some focus on this rather than continue to ignore it
- Yet another example of ‘I’ll write any old shite as long as I’m writing’…
The big question is; How do I get my writing mojo back?
Well I’m taking a small steps approach, hoping that each little thing will reduce the friction (aka the excuses) that are holding me back. The good thing is that, over the last few weeks as I’ve started to read back my early draft, a few new ideas have popped up to solidify parts of the novel I’d been struggling with, so I’m hoping to build on that momentum.
Step 1. Hack the physical space
I don’t currently have a comfortable space to write. We have a breakfast bar and stools but it’s not the best. So it’s time to clear up one of the spare rooms, get the table cleared and get a chair. Bonus of finally sorting out one of the spare rooms which have barely changed since we moved in.
2. Hack my mental space
Ohhh the articles I’ve read on this; How to overcome writer’s block, How to get your writing mojo back, Just write!, Finding your way back, and other such titles all spring to mind (I may have made some of these up but you get the gist). That said, I’m prone to procrastination (why do you think I have a blog?) and I know that if I really want to get back to Novel 1 I need to dedicate some time and make it a priority. Even if I’m just sitting down and going through my notes, or rewriting a chapter, it all counts.
3. Or just give up?
But here’s the thing, and I think this is the root of all of this prevaricating and pontificating, shouldn’t I just WANT to sit down and write? Why am I having to ‘hack’ my way back to it? If I don’t have the passion to do it and follow it through to completion then maybe it’s just not for me?
And there we have it. If that is the case, if my attempt at writing a novel has to go down as a noble effort that is ultimately doomed to remain incomplete, well a large part of me doesn’t want to admit that, doesn’t want to say I’ve failed. Logically I know I’m not the first person, and I certainly won’t be the last, to fail to write a book. I should take pride that I tried it at all, acknowledge that as an achievement in itself and move on.
Except I’m not quite ready to do that. Part of me still thinks I can do this, part of me wants to continue to explore the process of writing and finding my own voice and style, and part of me wants to prove that I can, at the very least, finish the damn thing. If for no other reason than to show that all of the words I’ve written about it in this blog post so far (973) aren’t just yet another scream into the void.
Even if that’s exactly what this is.
(994 words, done).