Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moving forward at a snail's pace

Well, I'm moving ahead with the new novel, slowly but surely.

Emphasis on slowly.

Today, I managed to delete all the crap I had written before and then added about 300 new words that may or may not be English. Still, whatever they are, they're better than the garbage that preceded them.

I left the opening scene, because I actually think it's salvageable. Heck, it might even be good as it is.

I've also been analyzing why I've been so blocked the past few weeks (I know. Analyzing always gets me in trouble). I think it's a combination of fear that my first effort wasn't very good and a big change in the Towery household. You see, this is the first summer that the 12-year-old hasn't gone to summer day camp. He's too old this year.

So he and I are hanging around the house all day. He goes to the gym with me and then we come home, eat breakfast and I head down to write while he reads or watches television or plays video games.

And I worry that I'm ignoring him. That his summer will suck because Dad is too busy in his study writing. We live out in the bluffs and there's no kids his age nearby. So the poor kid sits here all day while I write (or try to).

And, I suspect, that's keeping me from concentrating on the task at hand -- namely getting this new book started and done in the ten-month time frame I'm shooting for.

It's just not happening, folks.

I'm one of those weird writers who must have complete quiet. I can't be interrupted or I lose my train of thought and whatever I was writing vanishes from my mind forever. I do have a cursory outline, but I mostly write from the seat-of-my-pants. And that's been a problem the past three weeks.

It's not his fault. Not at all. In fact, he feels bad and blames himself for dad's writing block. Now this isn't true, of course. It's all my fault.

But it's still a problem, you know?

As you can tell, I've spent far too much time screwing around with the blog. I do, however, like the newest design. Of course, knowing me, I'll change it again next time I'm blocked.

Hell, I haven't even been able to blog much, I've been that blocked. The simple act of writing a blog post damn near sends me into panic mode these days. I sit here, and ... nothing comes.

So I do this stream-of-consciousness thing I'm doing right now, because it's the only way I can actually get something written.

I wonder. Do people see shrinks for writer's block? I'm serious. I'd do it if I thought it would help.

So my question to you, dear bloggy friends, is this: What do you do when you're blocked and can't write? I mean, I've already taken three weeks off, so taking more time off isn't the answer. Maybe the little bit of work I got done today means the end is in sight. I hope so.


  1. I've been there plenty. I had a two month gap between writing burst this year because of it. The only thing that got me going again was forcing myself to write crap (when I say force I mean REALLY force myself and deal with sentences like: She said 'hello.'. He said 'hi' back.) until something snapped in my head that said: 'hey, that. right there. Genius. cool. work with that! Whoo-hoo!" As soon as that happened everything started flowing again.

    I know this isn't helping you, but I thought I'd share ... :o)

  2. Oh, my poor male twin. Well, you know what I have been going through and I can relate down to the kid being home for summer and the guilt that it causes. My daughter is thirteen and she gets so bored around here. I just tell her if there's anything she'd like to do, to let me know and we'll get out for a little bit.

    I also need absolute quiet and CAN NOT be interrupted when writing.

    I have been blank for quite some time and things come to me in waves. When I can't seem to get anything worth a damn on the paper I do something else I enjoy, like my painting. I'd like to take a class for motorcycle mechanics or drawing or something fun. Maybe capoeira. I don't know. But it always helps when I get out and enjoy myself for a little while. It doesn't necessarily unblock me but I do feel better and a bit more inspired. Going to coffee gets really, really, really old.

    I find that I need to connect with like minded people for this writing stuff. It helps me when I talk to you guys and we e-mail each other. It helps to read the groups stuff.

    And the biggest help to myself I have found is I have stopped ANALYZING myself. A hard habit to break, but man what a freedom! I am who I am and I do what I do, that's all there is to it. I have to do what feels good and not beat myself up and judge myself. We have people who love us dearly. We're lucky in that sense and we ARE worthy of it. So just be a bit easier on yourself and let go a little bit.

    I could go on and on when it benefits others, but in helping myself? Big Frickin' chore I tell ya.

    It's all okay. It WILL happen when it happens. Until then, enjoy yourself.

  3. Let's see if I can comment today. Your page seems to hate me whenever I try.

    Ups and downs happen, but keep truckin' Terry. I finished my MS and have sent out three query letters today. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. :-) As for yours, I have total faith in you. You're an excellent writer. Your day will come, I'm sure of it.

  4. I read that writer Hunter Thompson once typed the Great Gatsby just to get a sense of what it would feel like to write those words. Maybe an exercise like that might help. And actually seeing a shrink couldn't hurt.

  5. Is that snail porn?

    The thing that always helps me when I get writer's block is to go driving. I like driving on highways or empty roads where I can go a decent speed and zone out (I realize that doesn't sound all that safe, but you know what I mean). There is something about being able to play various parts of the story out in my head KNOWING that I can't write a single thing down that seems to lift the pressure and get the excitement flowing again.

  6. I know what you mean, Tracy. I like to drive the backroads with the radio cranked and just *think* about what I'm working on. Of course, the radio in my car is dead right now, so that's not an option.

    Oh, and I HATE snail porn. It takes *way* too long to get to the good parts ... ;)

  7. I hear you on having the kid home. I made a deal with Monster Baby at the beginning of summer -- if she leaves me alone for a certain amount of time so I can write, I will do whatever she wants after lunch. Negates the guilt, allows me to get something done.

    You changed your gym time because of the crazy lady, maybe you should only be writing from the time you get out of the gym until noon or something. Perhaps if you know you only have a set amount of time to write every day you'll be more productive? Just a thought.

  8. Your son sounds sweet, blaming himself for dad's writer block. Well, here it goes-- being a mom of 8 boys and knowing what adolescence is like, I say forget the writing for the summer and enjoy this time with your son. They change too fast at this stage and 12 year old boys absolutely adore their dads and want to be with them. So go out and do every fun thing you can think of with him, and when school starts in the fall, I'll bet your guilt AND your writer's block has completely disappeared.

  9. I love the blog background -- cool stuff, cool colors, plus everything goes with the typewriter.

    About blocks: every Sunday afternoon, I get together with two other writers. We write in silence for about four hours. At first we got together in a local college library (where you're allowed to bring coffee), but now we meet in one person's house, stake out our territories, and write away. It works. The cure for writer's block is power through it.

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