Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breaking the Block

As you know, I have been struggling with writer’s block for a long, LONG time. Well, the dam finally broke and the words are flowing. I wanted to share my strategy and the results.

Breaking the Block

1. I took my issues public.
Writing my blogs and your input to them gave me accountability.
2. I made a plan.
My plan was to set aside my WIP and start something new and WRITE every day. I committed to one hour a day to start with, putting BUTT in chair & HANDS on keyboard. I didn't make it everyday but I did make it most of the time.
3. I attended as many RWA chapter meetings as possible for inspiration.
I’m lucky to be centrally located where I have four RWA chapters within a 2 hour drive. And I attend all of them. (It helps that I’m single and kids are grown)
4. I took a couple of interesting writing classes/workshops.
I’m the Queen of online classes. I love them and take a couple every month. But I attended an in person one-day workshop with Margie Lawson that was AWESOME and it really got motivated.
5. I entered a contest.
After a very encouraging critiquing session at one of my chapter meetings, I decided to enter a contest. I knew I’d talk myself out of it if I thought about it too long. I just did it! Then it occurred to me that if I were lucky enough to final in the first round, my ONLY CHAPTERS would go to an editor for final judging. And if that went well, I’d have NOTHING else to submit.

It seems I need a deadline – I work best under the gun, so to speak. So, just in case my WIP finals, goes to the editor for a final judging and does well, I now have 8 more chapters to submit. Yes, you heard right – 8 additional chapters and counting.

What did I learn through all this?

- I leaned that writing is like anything else in our lives. If you have problems your need to share them. I used to think that was whining or a “poor me” attitude. It’s not (or shouldn't be). It’s letting your friends know you have an issue and receiving their support and encouragement.
- I learned that you can wallow in the murkiness or you can make a plan and work the plan.
- I learned that putting yourself out there is one of the biggest motivators. You don’t want to be caught lacking, so you just keep pushing forward – in case somebody (an editor?) notices and wants to see more.
- I learned that what you need is not always what you “think” you need. I wanted reinforcement that my complacency and off-task behavior was understandable and okay. What I needed was Ashlyn Chase to tell me “BICHOK”. I needed Emily Bryan to say that “writing is a muscle that needs exercising.” I needed Carly Carson to quote Stephen King quoting Philip Roth saying, “Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”

I love my RWA Chapters. I love the unpub writers who are struggling along with me. I love the published writers who take the time to encourage and mentor others. I love this frustrating, crazy, wonderful thing called writing.

Thanks for the help.