I really hurt some people I care about tonight. Really bad.
There were tears and blood. A ceremonial knife was involved. I’m still kind of shocked I hurt these people so bad, to be honest. I really did a number on them. I feel terrible about it.
Of course, these “people” are characters. Sure, they’ve been rattling around in my head for a few YEARS now and I’ve given them back stories and character arcs and ways of speaking and triumphs and tragedies and loves and hobbies. I know them and I really, really hurt them tonight. And while I feel kind of gross about some of the things I did to them (man, that ceremonial knife was not a pleasant thing), I’m really glad I was able to hurt them like this.
I finished my first book, “FantasticLand” in 2015. In early 2016 I closed out “Pack” and wrote a third book, the unpublished “Bitter Old Punk” by the end of the year. I finished half of a fourth book and pieces of a follow up to “Pack”. It was a productive time and then…poof. The will to write kind of went up in smoke. That’s not right, not the “will” but the habit. I fell out of the writing habit but, beyond that, I stopped thinking like a writer for a while.
I took notes, I blogged occasionally, but there was a five month period in 2017 where I didn’t write a thing. Not seriously, anyway. I’ve got a few short stories banked from that time period while I was trying to get back in the groove, and it wasn’t like I had a lack of ideas. I was even newly creative, starting a podcast (Atomic Weight of Cheese, check it out) and throwing myself a great 40th birthday party complete with live riffing a movie.
In some way, that’s how I justified this “down” period. I was being creative, books were being bought, deals were being made. No problem, right?
But it was a problem because I made it one. By staying away so long from some of the books I’d been writing I’d completely lost the thread, I had forgotten some of the details about the characters and some of the groundwork I’d laid. I wasn’t writing and it was hurting what I had written.
I wish I had a triumphant “and then I came out of it and started writing again” moment, but I don’t. It started slow, I went back and re-read and I’m back to writing 20,000 words a month or so. I’m closing in on the ending of my second “Pack” book (jinxed it, didn’t I?) and I’ve got other books waiting to land. I’m reading more, I’m writing more and if this was “writer’s block” (which I don’t think it was, at least not traditionally) I kicked it’s ass by not stressing about it and keeping the creative juices flowing.
And if I had any advice it would be just that – if you’re stuck, don’t worry about it but don’t stop thinking about it. Keep being creative, keep on your creative process and wait. The time will come when it starts up again and when it does it will be a blast.
But not for your characters. Those people are going to suffer. He he he.