Discussion: Creative Blocks

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to my Discussion series here on the blog. Is it just me or are my posts getting a little longer so far this year? I feel like I’ve been writing a lot. I like that my posts aren’t in the 300-500 word range most of the time. I think they’ve been mostly 700-1,000 words lately, which is pretty cool. Anyway, every other Friday I like to pick a topic that deals with books, writing, publishing, etc. and just talk about it. Then the weeks where I don’t have a Discussion post, I instead have a book Recommendation post. All in all they’ve been pretty fun to put together and I think it adds a little bit of variety to my blog.

Much as I said I would in last week’s Weekend Writer post, for my discussion this time around I want to delve a little deeper into the two types of blocks mentioned in Laraine Herring’s On Being Stuck, and talk about how both types of blocks were keeping me from really diving into my current writing project.

Before I get into my personal experience with these blocks, I want to refresh all of our minds about what those blocks are, just in case we’ve read a lot this week…or hey, if you didn’t check out my Weekend Writer posts.

There are writer-in process blocks and work-in-progress blocks.

“Writer-in-process blocks occur when you are working on your book, and the book is requiring you to face parts of yourself or your beliefs about the book that you’d rather not acknowledge.” — page 22

The parts of yourself or these beliefs in your book could include issues like deciding what a writer is or isn’t, how you feel other people will respond to your work, your fears, patterns of behavior such as procrastination or perfectionism, and unresolved personal issues. This section then tells you some ways to work through these sorts of blocks.

“Work-in-progress blocks relate to problems with the product itself. They may include issues with the structure, characters, dramatic conflict, research, and your current level of ability to complete the project as envisioned.” — page 25

As I said in my Weekend Writer posts, I have/am dealing with both of these types of blocks. But I don’t feel like these blocks are limited to just writers, because any creative person can struggle with this sort of thing. So I personally would rather refer to it as creative-in-process blocks and work-in-progress blocks.

With the first block, creative-in-process, I have constantly let my fears, my procrastination and perfectionism, and my thoughts on how others will respond to my work hold me back. I have been writing online under the name Danielle Thamasa since…I want to say since 2006…and I started writing on fictionpress in 2003. I wasn’t one of the super popular writers on there, but I did get decent views and comments. My writing changed a little bit as I got older and learned more, but for the most part I think my writing style was fairly consistent. Also, for the record, I pulled all of my writing off of fictionpress when I was in college.

My main point is that I have grown a lot as a writer in that time, and yes, some people know me from my first (and only) published novel so far, but a great deal more people know me from this blog. I don’t know how people will react to me and my creative writing now. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time, but the older I got and the more I looked into writing as a career, the more difficult and outlandish it seemed. I still really like the idea of being a full-time writer, but I think I will always struggle with that knowledge that my procrastination can muck me up, or if people don’t like my writing that could end my dream.

Actually if I want to get into a specific creative-in-process block, I have been stuck with writing the last few chapters of my second book for a few years now. I got held up on the book when our next-door neighbor died, and then a few months later my grandma passed away. Oh, this is where I should mention that my book follows characters like Death and the Angel of Death. And then when I thought that I could maybe work my way through the last bit, my parents’ divorce started happening, and one of those last chapters features a parent/child argument of sorts. Basically I think that my own personal struggles with death and grief, as well as my real-life parent-child drama, has held me back because I don’t want to face those chapters. Never mind the fact that logically if I could truly face those chapters and work through them, I think it might be a cathartic writing experience. I’m guessing it would help me get through a lot of my issues and feelings towards my father. But when I open up the book’s document it’s like I’m staring at this massive canyon with only a rickety bridge to get across, as it is all hit with a massive wind storm. I know I need to slowly make my way across the bridge, but even that first step leaves me completely frozen.

Then there’s the work-in-progress block, and that is more of my current issue (though there’s plenty of that creative fear and the concern over others not liking what I’m doing). I have pretty much always written fantasy and paranormal type stories, with a dash of romance tossed in. I’ve gotten used to how those go in terms of overall story progression, and how the writing process feels. With my current project, my D&D romance book, I am writing a contemporary romance that has just a dash of fantasy thrown in.

Yes, I have read quite a few romance books, and yes, I know how they are structured and such, but I just…what if I’m not good enough to write this type of story? Most of the contemporary stuff I’ve written so far has been a chaotic mess that can at best be described as a rambling rant. The best parts of my novel thus far are the fantasy bits, because that is familiar territory for me.

I really want to write this story; I love the concept and the characters, and I think if I can write it like it happens in my mind, then it will be a great nerdy and adorably awkward romance story. But this fear that I’m not good enough to write it that way keeps holding me back.

Right now I’m just trying to stick to the mindset that I don’t need to write the story down perfectly. I just need to get it on the page, even if it is the worst drivel I’ve ever written. I can edit it and polish it until it is better. But I can’t edit my page if it is blank.

So that’s where I’m at in the creative process right now. I’m just trying to push that fear and those doubts and that worry into a box in the back of my mind and just write. It isn’t always easy, and they don’t always stay in the box, but I’m hoping to work through my blocks, and get my stories written.

See…I knew if I tried to get into my personal experience with these blocks that it would be way too long for my Weekend Writer post.

Anyway, have you guys dealt with creative blocks? How did you work through them? Or, if you’re still stuck firmly behind the block, then feel free to complain/lament/rant/etc down in the comments below.

That is all from me for today. I need to get back to writing, but I will be back soon with more bookish content.

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