I would say "writer's block" but I don't know that I believe in it. It's not that I can't think of anything to write, it's that there are SO MANY things running through my head that I can't pen down a single idea (yes - "pen", pun intended).
I felt like I was on a roll for a bit there - churning out young adult stories that were wining contests and gaining attention and then it just stopped. I can't come up with a good YA story to save my life right now and my attention for ideas has turned to more adult fiction. I've decided my pull away from YA stemmed from being a part of a YA writing website - rather than channel my desire to write for teens, it actually diminished it. I'm not sure if I should be grateful for being on it or not. And I love general fiction. Which is fine, if I could just get one story line going instead of twenty. I realize there are writers with the opposite problem, then again they've actually written entire novels.
Some of my issue I think is exhaustion. It is quite hard to be an aspiring writer, a full-time wife and mother, and an English teacher. My day revolves around deciphering student writing and poorly constructed ideas and sentences, by the time I get home, I can't complete a thought myself. Some of it's probably fear. Fear that what I do write, if I ever get a novel together, will be shot down by the industry. I completely expect it. I've not read a lot of novel success stories where the manuscripts was accepted in round one of queries; it could happen, but not likely.
I read an article about creating a writer's life in Poets and Writers, a publication I read monthly and it gave some amazing tips on creating a writing schedule. I hope to give it a shot this summer, hope to find time for my brain to develop the ideas that keep whirling. I also stumbled up this article in Writer's Digest about overcoming "writer's block" - they gave four inspirational ways to move forward:
1. CHANNEL YOUR FLOW.
To unleash your full creative potential, you must first quiet your
brain’s frontal lobe, the powerful control center that directs planning
and problem solving. But before you tune out your inner taskmaster, you
can prime it to generate and seize upon useful ideas—in the background
and without conscious effort on your part.
When starting a project, take a moment to reflect, suggests Harvard
psychology professor Shelley Carson, author of Your Creative Brain.
What’s the subject of the piece? Who’s the audience? What main idea do
you want to convey?
Once you’ve set creative parameters and constraints, your brain will
scan your stream of consciousness for usable ideas, Carson says.
Connections that fit the bill will then enter your awareness as those
“aha!” moments writers crave.
2. CULTIVATE “MINDLESSNESS.”
Now that you’ve programmed your mental DVR, it’s time to turn down the
volume on goal-directed thinking. If zoning out doesn’t come naturally,
try research-proven strategies like exercise, meditation or deep
breathing to lower your frontal lobe activity. Anything that relaxes
you, from yoga to a hot shower, can do the trick.
To foster a sense of calm engagement, Elsbach recommends scheduling
some “mindless work” into each day. Spend 30 minutes cleaning,
gardening, sorting mail or doing any chore that requires some
concentration but isn’t mentally taxing.
“Don’t feel like you have to come up with something creative during
that time,” Elsbach says. “If nothing happens, you got something done
that needed to get done anyway. But it often helps people to have those
3. CHANGE YOUR SCENE.
You don’t need to ride an elephant or hike across outer Tajikistan to
get your neural network firing along new pathways. Volunteering,
spending time outside, visiting old friends or writing at an unfamiliar
coffeehouse may all provide enough novelty to spark innovative thought.
In this respect, the oft-derided day job may actually offer part-time
writers a creative advantage. “They’re exposed to different kinds of
problems, different co-workers, different environments,” Elsbach says.
Relating a new experience to previous ones forces your brain to
reprocess stored content, which can set off a chain reaction of original
ideas. “Take everything you come across in life and try to either
connect it to something else or think, what if?” Carson suggests. “What
if one thing about this were different? What would happen?”
4. NUDGE YOUR MUSE.
If a laid-back approach doesn’t spark any creative breakthroughs, Carson
suggests the following proactive exercise. List key ideas, characters
and phrases from your story and look for new and unlikely associations
between these elements. What does your protagonist’s secret mean for her
archenemy? How does the war-torn setting color your character’s first
romance? “The more connections you make, the more interesting and novel
ideas will come to mind,” Carson says.
Stretching your story’s possibilities may also help. “Really start
playing with your imagination and ‘what-iffing’ all the crazy directions
the writing can go,” Carson says. “One of those may, in fact, work for
A final caveat: Treat creative downtime as a strategy, not an excuse to
coast. Your best ideas will be wasted if you avoid the laborious work of
crafting them into a finished piece. “It behooves all writers to be
authentic with themselves,” Carson says. “I think deep down we all know
when we’re procrastinating.”
So - in a nutshell, today's writing is brought to you by someone who can't think of anything to write! How's that for irony?