Distractions and Writer’s Block

Claiming writer’s block at the first stage of starting out in your novel-writing dream isn’t a great start is it?

Two weeks ago, I finished my first draft, the lovely rough skeleton that I can now mold and shape to my heart’s content. I fully intended to create the gleaming, shiny story I’d always dreamed about. I was pretty excited about this. Until the point where I sat down to begin editing and ran head-first into my first writer’s wall.

I said it was fine, I’ll take some space from it for a while. After all, I’d been going non-stop for a few weeks and my brain was probably frazzled.

Two days later, the wall is still there. I begin to have self-doubts. Can I really do this? Am I just a child, with no concept of how hard writers have to work to achieve their vision? Should I be sat disciplining myself, not leaving the desk until I’ve gone through at least a chapter a day?

I actually tried that. It didn’t go brilliantly. By the end of chapter one I hated not just the book, but myself, the dog, the house, and my poor unsuspecting boyfriend. I stopped before the computer went sailing out the window.

I wasn’t totally unproductive, though. We decorated the spare room, cleared out the attic and even found a piano someone was giving away for free, (unbelievable?!) and my teenage passion for music was reignited. Our puppy was also castrated last week and I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to keep him occupied so he doesn’t frustrated-chew his way through every skirting board in the house.

I’m not unaware of what all of that is, however. I know they’re all just distractions. Things that are conveniently popping up to give me a marginally justified reason for not sitting down to my book each day like I’d been doing the previous few months.

Today I woke up feeling different. I realised words were starting to hesitantly flow in my brain again. Inspiration felt like it had made a small spark at the back of my mind. Not a huge flare, mind you, but an uncertain little splutter that was enough for me to crack out the laptop.

The first few taps of the keys, I was holding my breath and wincing, as if my brain would have a sudden attack of belligerent-toddler attitude and go into complete mental shutdown again. However, so far so good. I’m enjoying it again!

I can’t explain why my mind wandered off for a two-week break but maybe I don’t need to. I love the writing community I’ve discovered on Twitter but one thing I see a lot is people nearly killing themselves to write their story. They’re working through the night, sometimes going without meals, getting to that point where they’re slamming their heads on the desk in despair.

Maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves to perform? I know that every now and then, pulling an all-nighter is a good thing because the pressure actually produces some of our best work. But sometimes, going at a rate of ninety miles an hour for a significant period of time isn’t always great for us.

I think my head just wanted a break, to do something for a bit that wasn’t writing. I’ve decided to be grateful that this is my debut novel. I’m doing it for me and not for a deadline. That means I can afford to walk away from it for a bit when I feel I need to. Having worked in the corporate world for five years, I know that being able to walk away from your work isn’t always an option. So, I’m choosing to see this as a blessing. (Instead of the guilt-inducing horror I’d been trying to work through this previous fortnight).

I’m bouncing back and feeling all the better for my time away from the screen. I decided to begin my day by honing in my focus on my yoga mat. Yoga always makes me feel alive and clear-headed. I made the vow that today there would be no more distractions.

That is, until my puppy, Dennis, decided to sit on the mat and look cute.

Well…maybe just half an hour with him.

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