I’m trying very hard to finish up book 2 in my “Dark World” series : The Lockdown. I did have a stint of writer’s block a while back and had to pause it in order to work on my other project which I can’t wait to debut this winter – but now I’m back on a writing frenzie and the book is flowing in a direction I approve of.
Every writer has a different type of advice for a stagnant brain. “Write anyway. Force it.” “Plan out your entire series before you actually write a single bit of it.” The truth is, however, that writing is a unique experience for every author and what works for one person might not work for another. Sure, it gets frustrating when I feel blocked, but if I force myself to write, it will read as such. It will be stiff and the flow will be harsh. It will NOT be my best work, or even work I can be proud of.
Do I know what direction this series is headed in? Yes. I have a rough idea of how the first four books are going to play out, but I don’t have every detail outlined. I can’t write that way. My characters tell their own stories in their own ways and as I write I discover things about them right along with the reader. When I sit back and let them speak through me, that’s when my stories come alive. If I try to maintain too much control over the characters or the story ahead of time, I might as well just give up. I suppose my art mirrors my life in that way, I take each day as it comes, I’ve never been good at planning ahead in the broader, long-term sense. I’ve missed out on things because of my lifestyle, but I’ve had hilarious, memorable experiences that never would have happened for me if I was the type of person who needed to maintain control of my life at all times. No amount of disapproval or advice will change how I live, OR how I write.
The bottom line is that I think it’s fantastic to share your writing style and habits with others, and it’s wonderful to in turn, listen to what works for others. Try things on if you want, borrow someone’s idea-pants, outline style, habits and goals, but if someone else’s flow doesn’t work for you, THAT’S OK. Find out what works best for you, mix and match from others, add in your own ingredients, and create your OWN unique path.
How can you tell if what you do is working? Put down your prose for a month before looking at it again. Read it the way you’d read someone else’s story, just sit back and enjoy. Is the story forced, are the characters stiff, or does everything flow like water? If it’s the latter, you’re doing it right.
The Lockdown is slated to be out this winter. I don’t have an EXACT date on it yet but presumably before Thanksgiving! I can’t wait!