It isn’t that I never get blocked–I do. Often. For me, writing a story is often a lot like traffic gridlock. There I am, tootling along, on my way to my destination, sometimes on a deadline, and everything stops. Next thing you know, I’m sitting in stop-and-go traffic. Then I look out the window and see that the problem is some jerk who didn’t want to sit at a red light, so he pulled into the intersection behind a line of stopped cars, and now the cars with a green light can’t go anywhere because Jerkface is in the way.
Writing is like that. When I’m blocked, it’s usually because something is in the way. If I can figure out what it is, I can use my god-like writerly powers to reach down from the heavens and pick Jerkface up and put him in that great time-out in the sky.
Except during NaNoWriMo, I seldom write full speed ahead. I usually write carefully and slowly, and what I’ve already done nags me and drags me until I have it good enough to go on. Sadly, that doesn’t always mean it’s good, just that I think it is. I’m learning to cut most of my lead-in, even if I’ve written it to my satisfaction, but I have to write it to my satisfaction first. Then I can go on.
Eventually, there comes a point at which the story flows. After that, if I get blocked, I know it’s because I’ve taken a wrong turn. Somebody reacted inappropriately for no reason. I’ve told too much when the scene needs to be compressed, or I’ve glossed over a scene that needs to be opened up. I’m putting too much emphasis on something that distracts from what I want to emphasize.
During NaNo, I just make a note of this and write on, as if I hadn’t made that mistake. If only I could do that the other eleven months of the year! Maybe I’ll learn to do that, when I’ve been doing NaNo long enough. For now, writer’s block is my friend; it helps me write the way I write, until I learn a better way.
Does writer’s block torment you, or do you use it to help you write?
WRITING PROMPT: Put a character in traffic gridlock, as a perpetrator or as a sufferer.