I am not sure that my moments of inactivity at the keyboard can be construed as writers block. It is more akin to very narrow entrance and a jam of words, shoving and pushing to pass through and getting nowhere! As in any jam all it needs is for one to move slightly to one side, allow a space and hopefully, like sheep the rest will follow. With luck the brain has settled on the right words and the correct order. If not that is what re-writes are for and good editors.
I started writing Ellen’s Tale during a period of great stress and distress. It was a therapeutic escape from a life becoming more unbearable by the day. The words flowed and I settled into a very agreeable alternative world. I continued writing after that stress vanished and more stress crowded in behind. Illness and operations have dictated my life for a few years now and I have learnt the benefits a ‘lie down’ on odd occasions during the day. It is during these quiet times I find inspirations, work out an impending piece of writing. I hold conversations in my head to decide which character says what. If I drift into sleep those moments as I fall asleep and the moments I come back are fertile moments.
So getting that first word sometimes, for me at least, means stretching prone on a bed, letting thoughts drift; or, as thoughts and words that elude one are often found when not being looked for, I will potter in a sunny garden. Again letting my mind wander as it will between – do we have vegetable bake or liver and bacon for dinner and the last piece of writing or research I had done. Many times when I think my mind is tunelessly blank a word, an idea will explode into consciousness with a huge Yay!
Other times if words are shy of the daylight I will shrug and get on with anything else. Maybe the house needs some work done (I hate housework so there is always something needs doing!)or maybe some research for WIP or maybe the next novel. The first is so boring I am driven back to the keyboard, the second is so endlessly fascinating that the barren hours can be kept at bay while a file of useful aids to the inspirations are collected.
Ellen’s Tale as I have said in previous blogs started as homework practice for short story writing. In the class I was attending each week I found a blank mind over three nights, a mind that refused to offer a single idea to the teacher’s requests, they were supposed to be ten minute writes. Sci Fi, Food and Historical, the three subjects I appeared to be blocked on. I spent the time doodling elaborate prototypes of some art doll I thought might be fun to make.
I was determined to get to grips with short stories during the holiday and then, when the first word made it though that jam, they just kept on coming. In the intervening weeks those three subjects had obviously been fermenting within a very over stressed brain. Not blocked so much as slowed right down in a whole lot of other issues; in the grand scheme of things more important than keyboard to screen. However the words and ideas were still forming, gathering strength until their time came. Waiting for a calmer tide to wash them ashore.
For me extreme stress has both been a spark and a dampener to writing; relaxation and brainless occupation often a great companion to them both. I do not have to write to make a living. I do not have to produce x number of words in x number of hours/days, I am willing to admit I am lucky not to have that pressure. I give them to myself by inventing deadlines!! No-one is dependent for a roof over their heads on my writing. I can just enjoy the process of adding words to words, gaining immense pleasure from the creation of my Tales.