Turnabout

I always laugh when anyone tells me how glamourous it must be to be a writer.

The sight of me, unwashed and furious, staring at a glowing screen for hours while the people inside my head refuse to make sense, occasionally taking a break to pace furiously up and down the hall while the dogs trot behind me inquisitively, running into me when I stop and change direction, me throwing myself on the floor in the living room and snarling “BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE” and Miss B gamely trying to make it make sense by licking my face…you know, “glamour” is not the word that comes to mind. “Hysterically funny to watch Lili suffer” is what comes to mind.

My dears, I have a confession to make.

I’ve written through every other move and upheaval in my life. And by that, I mean I wrote in the hospital after C-sections (don’t ask), I wrote when the electricity got shut off because someone hadn’t paid the bill (roommates, oh, I could write a book about them sucking), I’ve written through two divorces, the death of a soulmate, and various other Fun and UnFun Events. Write during a move? Sure, no problem. Make my deadlines while buying a house? Pshaw, I’ve eaten better stress than this for breakfast.

I was wrong.

I did not understand (I was warned, though, I really was) about the level of stress involved in the legal albeit temporary possession (because really, the bank owns everything, and what the bank doesn’t own eminent domain can be invoked to make the state own) of a wooden structure on a lot that one pours money into. I did not understand that stress would play merry hob with deadlines, and I did not understand that the move would drain my emotional energy so badly I can barely force myself out of bed in the morning.

Hyperbole? Only a little.

Never before has the discipline of forcing myself to sit and chip words out of the folds of my cerebellum been so critical. Never before have I sat and looked at the screen and at my hands, and thought I know how to do this, I know what happens next, I just cannot find the goddamn words. For someone who has built her life on the power and magic of the written word, it’s a wee bit, oh, what’s the term, hmmm…

…terrifying? Yes, that applies.

As Julia Cameron often pointed out, it takes fuel to burn hard enough to create art. I’m scraping the bottom of my cupboard, and for the first time, the words are not just under the surface. The little bastards are cowering in deep caves, delighting in my agonized screams as I claw them out one by one and throw them onto the page, where I must nail them in and listen to them shriek as they writhe.

*clears throat*

Well. Now that I have that out of my system…

…okay, I have dished out hard advice here before. Now, dear chickadees, dear Readers, dish me some. I know I’m going to keep writing–after all, I have no choice–but turnabout’s fair play. Lay it on me. Zadie Smith’s ten rules can only take me so far. Be cruel to be kind, dear Readers. You’ll likely never get another chance.

And now, excuse me while I go grubbing for more screaming little word-bastards. I will read every piece of advice you give me, dear ones. Tomorrow.

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particle_person
particle_person

I use the Freedom program (for Mac or PC) to shut off my internet when I’m trying to get work done. Doesn’t stop me from sneaking to my phone (I may have a problem…) but it helps.

And because it’s a favorite quote:
“You didn’t get ideas. You smelled them out, tracked them down, wrestled them into submission, you pursued them with forks and hope, and if you were lucky enough to catch one you impaled it, with the forks, before the sneaky little devil could get away.” – Elizabeth Peters, Naked Once More

Wolf Lahti
Wolf Lahti

Give yourself some time. Just for you. Deadlines be damned.

You deserve it.

Then you’ll come back to the process better equipped to deal with the insanity that is the creative process.

Lynn
Lynn

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you know more than me anyway, but go for a walk outside, somewhere you’ve never been. Take a break for a few hours, because staring at a blinking cursor, or blank piece of paper is going to drive you nuts in 2.4 more seconds. Then come back and write anything, anything at all(this was good) before you make the voices in your head play with you again. When you’re ready, just write anything again for the first bit(that’s why we edit later, no?) It will come, it always does,… Read more »

AbbieS
AbbieS

You just spit out this entire post to your journal. Just keep word dumping like this, it will clear your head. I’ve written thousands of words on a piece to discover I must be possessed by a lunatic and deleted it. Only after this did I realize where the story should go. I also ceased listening to the noise in my head–in small increments–and when it got loud- I paused and went out and took some photos (I am a photographer). Looking through the lens gives me focus. I must look and concentrate on one thing. Bottom line—SIT YOUR ARSE… Read more »

Elizabeth L
Elizabeth L

“Everything we do, we do as Amazons.” Galenthias to Diana.

Laura Anne
Laura Anne

Join us for our next sip-n-bitch. The sheer OMGWTF insanity is enough to shake loose all but the most dogged word-mine dispair and send you giggling back to work…..

(four words: Stewart/Colbert/werekitten menage-a-troi)

And then go hug a dog or two, and a kid or two, and get back to work. Because when it all clicks in again, you will feel like a godamned goddess.

David
David

A word of warning: The following advice comes from a man who owns his own Writer’s Block. I’m playing Battlefield 3 on it right now. On the other hand, I just purchased my own first home in April and I know plenty about the stress that comes after you move in. $1,500+ of unexpected plumbing work in your closet will do that. Pick a room in your house and declare it your Writey Room. You may already have one and that’s fine; you may not want one, and that’s fine too, but pick a room anyway. Ideally the room should… Read more »

Mel
Mel

Well. This is where, back in the bad old days, I’d throw up that Malfoy icon and say WRITE MOAR FIC, MUGGLE BITCH!

These days, I just quote my writing partner who keeps saying “Get the corpse on the table, the WHOLE corpse, then you can cut it up.” *pokes*

It’ll come. Just keep typing.

Linda Rodriguez
Linda Rodriguez

Step back. Give yourself an afternoon or at least a couple of hours to do something that feeds your creative well. Visit an art gallery or museum. Spend it in the library, browsing and reading for sheer pleasure. Sketch or paint in the park. Knit, crochet, spin, weave, sew quilt, whatever craft feeds your inner self. Walk in a botanical garden or other physically beautiful, natural place. Go to the beauty parlor. (Now we’re getting to stuff I’d never do, but I know people for whom that works.) Whatever fills your creative well, do for yourself. If you try to… Read more »

Summer
Summer

Words, words and more words. They are required of us all day long and some times you just get sick of them all. Then other days its a struggle to remember to spell of with an O and a F instead of ov…..and then wonder what the hell happened between your brain and your fingers. From your post it sounds more like your characters are not cooperating with where you want the story to go. At least that’s how it sounds from your post And to quote a wise woman who’s blog I’m posting to…”The character always wins” I have… Read more »

Shiv5468
Shiv5468

Two suggestions. ONE, do something else creative – knitting, baking a cake, playing with paint, seeing an eexhibition. It can kickstart the process.

TWO, make a list of horrid jobs, start doing them. EVentually you’ll procrastinate by writing.

martianmooncrab
martianmooncrab

You could take a break and transcribe the SquirrelWars.. future Neos, or Past Napoleons (why do squirrels like names begining in N?) We know that Trolls work in Accounting, so that would make Demons in Charge of Escrow? … hmmm S. Crow… hmmm… Been reading a bit of Icelandic tales, I do like the Troll Wife. Or, you can tell the story of a hack writer trying to do a DIY book for a schlocky pagan publisher and ends up with a whole different set of problems other than dead=lines. Sit back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself… “what… Read more »

amystar
amystar

Do what you can, when you can. Even the act of putting in [something blows up here – chaos] and moving on to other things until you can find the words can free you up to move ahead, and maybe the mojo will come back. Maybe the scene you are stuck on is because it doesn’t actually belong to this story and your subconscious is trying to tell you that and you have to jump around to see what exactly you need as a bridge from a to c – and maybe it’s q, not b. If you have to… Read more »

Ariella
Ariella

Hi Lilith, I normally don’t provide responses to blog posts (usually when I’m reading them, it’s at the end of the day when my brain is fried and I’m just enjoying the posts). However, I thought I’d offer some thoughts in response to this post that I hope you find useful. I’ll admit that I’m hardly qualified to give advice as I’m not a published writer, but maybe some of this will resonate with you. First ask yourself: What was the first spark that drew you into this story? Was it the character’s voice that haunted you for weeks and… Read more »

Dawn
Dawn

Take a deep breath in. Hold it. Let it out. *Lather. Rinse. Repeat*. Do those small things that refill you cupboard, whatever they are (shower, run, watch a movie.). Be gentle with yourself for just a little bit and coax the words with kindness. Get a voice recorder and talk the story for a while.

cheryl
cheryl

I can truly, truly sympathize, having lost most of this summer to the same thing you’ve just been through — the house hunting, the agonizing loan-approval process, the moving — all of it sending me into tears on a near-daily basis. I did a week-long writing retreat in July and came back excited and hopeful and ready to work on my novel again… and then inside of three days I was back to obsessing over whether I’d have a place to live before my lease was up. Anyway… I do have a couple of suggestions that might help. One is… Read more »

Colleen Champagne
Colleen Champagne

I got nuttin’! Everyone here already gave you the *insert motivational text here* stuff that I would have said and honestly, I am awed and amazed by authors who can string letters together and make such magic as you do. I do know it will work itself out. It always does one way or the other.

josh howe
josh howe

i understand your pain my friend. I am a writer too though not a publsihed one and it is harder than hell to get my brain to cooperate and push words onto the paper. But dont give up, i have to say that out of the many books i’ve read (and belive me i have read a LOT) your books are very good and has a very capturing characters and story line, keep up the good work

Kelly McCullough
Kelly McCullough

I find that switching modes can really help. When the fingers don’t wanna type, I can often crack things loose by going for a walk with my voice recorder. Bonus points for scaring passing walkers by mumbling into my hand and gesticulating wildly with the other.

K Bone
K Bone

My wonderfully talented, brilliant, and (hopefully) forgiving mentor once told me one should sit in the chair and write “I don’t know what to write” until you find something better. She even wrote about here:

http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/2012/06/writers-block/

Did I mention she was both wonderful and (really hopefully) forgiving???