Jen Parks Writes a Novel Part 5: The Wall
By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio
If you happen to be a reader of my blogs or just one of my thirty-eight followers on Twitter, then you know that I’ve spent many of the past months lamenting about the frequency at which I find myself lost in the writing process; about the child-like characters that keep threatening to hijack my novel; and about how there never seems to be enough hours in the day to be a mother, a runner, a nurse, and a novel writer, too. I realize, though, that I am not alone, and that many writers work through similar obstacles when writing a first draft. But just when I thought I’d hurdled every obstacle, the writing gods set out another: writer’s block.
Not long ago, I came home from residency inspired and ready to work toward my goal of finishing that first draft. However, when I sat down at my computer and hovered my fingers over the keyboard to do just that, nothing happened. I couldn’t see my characters, I couldn’t hear them talking, and worse, I didn’t know what was supposed to happen next. The runner in me likens this type of mental block to what is often referred to as “hitting the wall.” This seemed a particularly apt description of what I was up against in my writing, because, sure, I’ve had moments of frustration, days where I couldn’t write three sentences without erasing two, but I’d never experienced days of just not being able to write anything.
One of my favorite sayings is an adaptation of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Don’t keep trying the same thing expecting a different result.” Between my family, work schedule, and workshop submission deadlines, I simply do not have the time to sit in front of the computer hour after hour, day after day, and “wait” for my muse to show up. So, I sought out advice from my good friend, and Bluegrass Writers Studio alumna, Cindy Behunin. Her advice to me was to keep writing, to “just plow through” that wall. It seems so simple, but yet, I’ve found it’s the only one true way of getting words down on the page.
There’s a lot of advice out there for writer’s block, but there’s no one secret, no one short cut that will work for every writer. Think of this advice as a set of crutches you may use if you find that you need help hobbling back onto the writing path. Though there is no substitute for writing, I utilized a few strategies that helped me “plow through” my writer’s block and get me back to writing my novel. Stay tuned for my next post, where I will share with you what strategies eventually worked for me.
Published on September 22, 2015