For any of you who have spent a day, a week, a month (or more?) staring at a blank screen (or worse yet, avoiding the blank screen), I’m going to give you something that is worth gold: the super-secret cure for writer’s block.
There is no spoon.
What the hell?
No, really. It’s bullshit. There is no writer’s block. There is procrastination. There is being busy. There is being distracted. Then, God help us, there is Twitter.
Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block. Cops don’t get cop-block. Assassins don’t get a vague sense of malaise that prevents them from going out and slitting yet another throat. No, they just get up in the morning and do their damned job. And so should you.
Time to stop thinking of yourself as an artiste and get on with the hard work.
Writing is hard. I get that. I get it because I do it. Every time someone says to me something like: “Oh, I’ve always thought about writing a book, but I’m just too busy. It would be so nice not to have anything to do but sit around and write all day. Maybe when I retire.” I want to poke them in the eye.
Some days I’d rather do anything then face a half-finished outline, a scene that isn’t working, a corner into which I’ve painted myself. But if I lie to myself and say I’m “blocked”, I’ve lost the fight before I even get to my laptop.
So how do you get words on the page when the motivation isn’t there? Easy. Go back in your brain and remember the first time it occurred to you to be a writer. Better yet, the first time you read something of your own and thought, Hey, this is pretty good.
Remember that feeling?
Hang on to that memory until the feeling fills you up. Ignore the doubts, the self-sabotaging chatter in your brain, the voice that tells you it’s too hard, you’re too busy with other things, or you’ll do it later. It’s later now.
Next, think about what you hope to get out of this writing gig. I did myself a huge favour last month and created a ten-year plan for my writing career. I’ve been doing a lot of research into indie publishing ever since I decided to go indie on my next two books.
The one critical lesson I’ve taken away from that?
I now see that the most important thing I can do for my writing future is to write more books. I realised I’m working on a career, not a story. So, I mapped out my next ten years in a business plan. That brought into sharp focus how much work I have to do to achieve the things I want.
The best part? Now I really know what I want. I’ve got it down in black and white. My sales targets, my income targets, and concrete plans for how to achieve those things. Until I’ve implemented my ten-year plan, nothing is going to convince me it can’t be done. That’s ten doubt-free years I’ve bought myself.
That blank page in front of you is not just a blank page. It’s an opportunity. It’s step 32 of 925 in your plan. Imagine how you’ll feel when those plans succeed. Don’t just say it. Close your eyes and picture yourself with thirty published books, making X quid a month, or whatever your own goals are.
Me, I want a fulfilling job where I love the work and make a living. I want my husband to be able to retire at sixty-five and my kid to go to a decent university without a burden of debt. I know how I will feel when I achieve those things, because that is the feeling I take with me every day when I sit down to write about faeries, angels, demons, and witches. I feel that success when I see that blank screen.
Writing is hard work. But it’s work I love, and it’s work I can do. Blocked?
Sorry, don’t have time. I’m one month into a ten-year plan, and I have things to do.
About India Drummond
India Drummond’s debut novel, Ordinary Angels, is a slightly smutty urban fantasy in which Zoe Pendergraft falls in love with an angel, frees a soul from necromancers, releases a ghost trapped in the Void, and saves his living grandson from demons. It will be released April 4th, 2011 from Lyrical Press.
You can find India Drummond on Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog. Join her Facebook fan page to be notified of release dates and info about her two indie books, Blood Faerie and Haywire Witch, also coming in 2011.