Friday, September 7, 2012

Writing Through Writer's Block

By Susan

I’ve always been pretty consistent with my writings… from journal entries to this blog, to working on my novel. If I don’t write new words every day, something’s wrong.

Yet over the past few months something changed. Blame it on summer. Blame it on my own weariness with my novel. Was this writer's block? I wasn't sure, but I certainly wasn’t writing. I’d been in a restless place with the editing of my manuscript, and editing didn't feel like writing at all. I felt stagnant and stuck, unable to put new words on paper--because I’d been too busy worrying about the novel instead of writing one. (Worrying about writing isn’t the same as writing. Trust me on this.)

Then I spent a week cradled by mountains at the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop. I got to listen to what other people do with their pens--poets spinning words into golden threads, essayists painting a new perspective on life’s simplest tasks. I listened to the words of people who are just as crazy about writing as I am as they spoke the truth, even when it hurt. And I came back to Texas inspired. It was a great reminder of why I write.
Since my return, I have challenged myself with different prompts to stretch my words to new places.

I started by writing poetry and short essays on nature. I wrote a creation myth that might find its way into my next novel. I played around with the idea of writing down children's stories--the tales I used to tuck in my daughters with when they were small. None of it has had anything to do with the manuscript I am currently editing. Not one word has felt like worry about what I've already written… and it felt like freedom.

And then I figured it out: all of a sudden, I’m only writing for me again. I’m not thinking about my agent, or editor. I’m not thinking about a book deal and what that even might mean. I’m just putting new words on paper because that’s what I do. And it’s felt great.

I suppose this means that I've been writing through my writer's block. I can’t think of any other way to do it. I’m showing up every day, hoping to capture a muse or a glimpse of genius. And of course, some days are better than others. But the worry has gone away. The dread of editing has lifted. It’s all a process, of course, this ebb and flow of a writing life. But it’s been a great reminder—it’s only a writing life if I am writing. Every day.


  1. Beautiful article , well written

    nice will surely come for new post

  2. Lovely, candid piece and you guys should know that the terrific Lee Martin has put you on his Facebook page. Glad to have found you and hope to stay in touch. I'm looking now for a guest writer/artist/musician on my literary blog and website. If you know of someone, please send them my way. In the meantime, sending you my best for what you are doing together.


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