I've tried to write a novel called 4 Kinds of Homicide for a little over a year. I can't get past Chapter 5. Stuck. Dead in the water. But every month or so I've written a new short story. I now have two collections of stories about to come out and a few stories for two more collections. Obviously, I don't have classic writer's block.
Thirteen days ago, I had a sudden insight: I hate my main character. I've lived with him for over five years, first as an idea, then I wrote a practice book (I didn't think of that way while I wrote it) with him as the main character, and as I planned and started this book.
I realize now that he is too much like me! Well, an idealized me. I think I've grown past what he stands for. I had to say goodbye to him and his personal problems.
I chucked him out. In the next eleven days, I had a new character that I like a lot, a title (Shimmer), and four chapters in first draft form. I'm almost done with Chapter Five and have notes on Six and the rest of the book.
My point. Writer's block may not be just motivation. Maybe like me, you're writing the wrong book.
Note: I've uploaded the cover art to the photo section
Makes perfect sense. You have to feel enthusiastic about your project to keep up the pace. I'm very discipline-driven, and actually finished a trilogy that I soon lost interest in. A third of the way in, one of the minor characters, an unlikable one, pushed himself forward and demanded attention. The result was that I had an increasing number of chapters from his pov. The books got finished, but the character wasn't done. Result: he got his own book (THE SWORD MASTER), and I now have to rewrite the trilogy for the other characters, removing most of his chapters again.
Yes, you sure do need enthusiasm. And for me I had to realize that writing a book was done over a few stages - the initial enthusiasm, the tough slog in the middle where I think it's just a complete mess and will never work and then the end when it (sometimes) comes together.
I have certainly given up a few novels when I realized, as Brian says, that I was writing the wrong one.
My characters stop talking to me when I take the story line in a place they don't want to go. It's almost as if they're stomping their feet and screaming, "I'm not going there!" with their lips poked out. I've learned when there is too much of "me" in the story--meaning I'm controlling the story over my characters--I usually hit a road block until I step away for a while and listen.
By the time I start anything, it usually has to really stir me. So I try to finish anything I get more than a few thousand words into. Right now, I definitely think my problem is the more cliche form of writer's block. lol
What gave you the sudden insight 13 days ago, Brian? You'd devoted so much time to this character, I'm curious what happened.
I think the old character was worn out and wasn't talking to me any more. Maybe I should have moved on a long time ago. Maybe I lived with him too long and we fell out of love, like a marriage gone bad.
As soon as I made the decision to not write that book, at least at this time, my imagination took off. My new character is younger, more relevant to the times, and more upbeat. Maybe my new character is like having a new spouse.
I think he expresses what I want to say, now five years later.
I have found every time I'm stuck, its because something is wrong with the story, either with a character (like you Brian) or the story is derailing from what I originally set out to do and wanted to say.
Glad you worked it out. Good luck
I agree with what the others are saying here. Maybe not classic writers block...characters have an annoying habit of wanting to go their own way, regardless of whether you've written a tight outline or not, for example. I tend not to outline partly for that reason (and others besides). I've ditched a novel or two for similar reasons to you. Basically, don't worry about it. It's all good learning. I like what one writer said (can't remember who)...if I don't want to know what happens next, neither will my readers. So, it may be boredom as much as anything on your part, but sounds like you've worked out a way through. Every novel is a mix of enthusiastic rush, drudgery, confusion, renewed enthusiasm, stuckness, revelation, joy, passion, and every other emotion. Basically, don't sweat it!