Writing and Writer’s Block

One of the things I often hear people asking about is writer’s block and how to overcome it. Before you get too excited and think that I have any kind of answer to this, let me say straight out that I don’t! My own style of writing is to have an idea pop into my head, mull it over for a while (could be hours, could be days, occasionally it’s weeks or months), and then open up a brand new page and start typing.

I’m a pantser. For the uninitiated, this means that I sit and write and the story grows exponentially – as opposed to a plotter who creates a written outline of what-will-happen-and-when.

The real truth is that before I even put pen to paper (or, more realistically, fingernails to keyboard) I’ve got the broad outline plotted inside my head. While I’m ‘constructing’ a story (i.e. thinking about it), I often have vivid dreams. The old adage about keeping a pen and papfaces-2134001_640er by the bedside to capture your dreams holds true for me – it’s where some of my best ideas come from.

Having said that, if it’s a darker story that’s clamouring for attention, this can lead to a few restless nights. My story, ‘Joe’, that I wrote at the start of the year (and is being published in the A Haunting Of Words anthology later this year), is a case in point: there is a particular part of the story which made me cry when I wrote it, and woke me crying on more than one occasion after it was finished. I was somewhat relieved to be told by the owner of the publishing company that it made him cry, too.

That’s why I ‘pants’ things: I find the emotions pour onto the page better that way. Sometimes, when I’m lost in the story, my characters take over and practically write it themselves (and sometimes they do or say things that take me by surprise) – and when that happens, the feeling is amazing!

Which leads me back to writer’s block. I do have times after I’ve finished a piece of work where I don’t want to write for a while. It’s not that the ideas aren’t there, it’s more that my brain won’t let me have the good ones until I’m ready to commit to them. I almost have to mourn the story I’ve lived for so long (and yes, I’m aware that sounds daft, but for me, it’s true). I sometimes wonder if this is simply the body’s way of saying ‘take a break’. And I wonder if that’s what writer’s block really is?

What do you think?