2. Writing Through
When I was wallowing in long-term writer’s block, I used to blame myself for lack of will and drive and determination. I gave myself the guilts and sank into a deep dark hole. Maybe I deserved it for setting my standards too high, instead of writing through and learning from feedback. But I definitely blamed myself too much.
I still get stuck, but I no longer give myself the guilts about it. It’s happened before and I’ve overcome it before. Most of all, I’ve learned that the problem usually isn’t in me, but out there in the world of the narrative. When I get stuck, the story is trying to tell me something.
I believe a story has its own logic, which can’t be bent into shape by the mere will of an author. When you can’t make something happen, it’s not necessarily your fault. Rather, the story won’t let it happen. That’s when it’s time to back off and listen to what the story’s telling you.
Usually, I find that the problem is bigger than just the episode I keep blocking on. On the other hand, it’s nowhere near as big as the whole novel. A time to back off is also a time to regain a sense of proportion.
Some writers I know can jump ahead and start writing again at a later stage of the novel. Fine if you can do it, though I never can. You pull yourself out of the immediate hole and realise that your overall story-arc is still good, still inspiring.
I get the same psychological uplift by planning ahead. I look forward to some of the misty areas that haven’t yet come clear, and work on firming them up. Soon I recover my confidence: the basics are right and there are great developments ahead. Very re-affirming!
Then I’m ready to go back, take a fresh look at the problem and deal with it.