Have you ever worked on a project only to have your creativity suddenly lock up like a motor without a drop of oil? That happened to me recently.
I had been getting the same feedback on a manuscript from agents and editors so I was in the process of incorporating the changes when it happened. I thought the modifications would be easy. Just take out this, cut and paste that. Smooth manuscript sailing, right? Wrong.
I found myself frustrated. I avoided writing because the story wasn’t working. It was a mess, and I didn’t have a clue why. I used the same characters. The story took place in the same town. The goals and motivation were the same. Nevertheless, it was clear, the story just wasn’t working.
One afternoon, at a coffee shop I discussed the issue with my critique partner.
Me: “This book is driving me crazy. I’m ready to give up.”
CP: “Why would you do that? So far, what you’ve given me is good.”
Me: “It’s just not working. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.”
I literally had to refrain from kicking the table and wailing in a whiny four-year-old voice, “IT’S TOO HARD. I CAN’T DO IT.”
My critique partner may be the wisest woman I know. She looked at me and said, “It’s not the story that’s not working. It’s you. You’ve got to figure out what’s going on with you. Then, you’ll figure out what’s going on with your story.”
What the heck did my personal life have to do with the disastrous rewrite? I soon found out.
I heeded her advice and spent the next couple of days analyzing what was going on with ME.
I came up with this:
*Like 90% of the world, I’d been under a lot of stress.
*I’d started working out again, and my body felt sore and physically lousy.
*My family relationships were out of whack.
*My writing felt pressured. I was writing a Christmas story, which meant there were specific submission deadlines, and they were approaching fast.
Yet, I was going along day after day as if everything were fine. You could say I was trying to force normalcy in my life and in my writing, when things were far from normal.
So I got to work.
*I cleared some things off my schedule to relieve daily stress.
*I took two days off from exercise to allow my body to recuperate.
*I had a nice talk with my loved ones concerning the things that had been bothering me.
*And sadly, I faced the fact that I wasn’t going to make this year’s deadline for my Christmas story.
Dealing with these issues defogged my creative crisis and got my motor running again. The problem with my manuscript became crystal clear! I was trying to force two stories together, when it was obvious, they wanted to be separate. I’m happy to report my vision is back and the NEW story is flowing nicely.
My CP was right. I’d been the problem all along. If you’re like me and you’ve found yourself wondering why your writing isn’t working, there’s a possibility it isn’t your writing at all. Perhaps the problem is YOU.
I’m here to help if you’d like to chat about it.
Remember to dream big!