Friday, 24 May 2013

Writer's Block? Self-doubt hitting hard? Walk away! You'll feel better for it...

I think all authors go through this at some point in their writing life - that feeling that a story just isn't going in the right direction, which then turns into something resembling a massive dose of self-doubt as nothing you do can make you convince yourself that no, everything's fine, it's just you being paranoid and over self-critical. I've just had a couple of weeks of experiencing those exact feelings.

I haven't made a secret of the fact that my latest WIP - Extra Time, the follow-up to my sexy soccer romance Striker, and the next book in the Striker Trilogy - is giving me some horrendous headaches. But that's only because I care so much about the characters that I feel this way, that I let myself get stressed out about the way the story is going and whether it's heading in the right direction or not. I've already done one semi-major re-write concerning one particular character, and, at the beginning of the week, I was halfway to doing another one. 

But then I did what I probably should have done a while ago - I took a step back. I left it alone. I put work on Extra Time aside and began planning another, separate project, but more about that in another post. 

However, after a few days of not even looking at Extra Time (I can't say I didn't think about it, though, because I did. It's all I ever think about these days!), I began to have very different feelings towards it. I began to miss those characters that had given me so many headaches lately. I began to miss spending time with them. And I began to realise that there was absolutely no need to mess with the story anymore. I'm on the right track, it's heading in the right direction - I just needed to take that step back to realise that. 

You always hear people say that, when things start to feel stagnant, or when that old friend writer's block comes knocking, then the best thing to do is to leave what you're working on alone and don't go near it for a few days. But, being the slightly obsessive person that I can be at times, I used to think bugger that, I'm just going to keep working on it. But that really, really doesn't help. In fact, doing that could actually make things worse. I could have ended up faffing about with this WIP until it didn't even resemble the story I wanted to tell, because it was heading that way. But, instead, I left it alone for a while and that worked. It gave me time to think about the story from a different perspective, to give myself time to go through each character's journey and make sure it was the right one. And when I started to miss those characters, that's when I knew it was time to get back to work, which I have done, and I'm so excited about this book now! I can't wait to get out of bed in the mornings and start writing, can't wait to spend time with characters I've grown really close to, which is why I want their stories to be right. And when you're excited about something, that's when you feel confident, when you know you're on the right track. 

I can't say I'm never going to have more days when I hate everything I've just written, but now I know that the best thing to do when those feelings hit is to walk away, because I'll feel better for it. 

Jamie Redknapp - my Friday afternoon source of inspiration...
Anyway, I think I've rambled on enough this afternoon. I've got work to do. But, before I go, I would just like to thank the rather gorgeous ex-footballer-turned-TV pundit Jamie Redknapp for a dose of inspiration (and those that know me and follow my work will know just which character Mr. Redknapp inspired in Striker) that has meant I got a scene written today that was way more powerful than I ever thought it could be. I love the way my mind works...

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