Saturday, 16 March 2013

Procrastination and Writers’ Block



I wanted to write about this in an early post, because I know it affects many writers. I’m relieved to say – although I only started writing fiction full-time around three years ago – I have rarely suffered from this.

As a Psychotherapist, my experience in working with artists, actors, writers and composers, leads me to believe that writers’ block is one of two issues. It’s either:

                                 i.            Lack of Engagement with the project 
                               ii.            Fear (see next post)

Tigsey's lack of engagement with the keyboard...


Lack of Engagement

The odd time when I’ve sat at my keyboard and have been unable to get started (suddenly finding emails, other people’s blogs, washing up etc, far more compelling), I’ve usually lost some faith in my story (as opposed to lost faith in myself, which is the 'fear' part). The antidote is to return to the original ideas and sketches of the project. Go back to square one and take a critical look at the basic material.

This has only happened once to me recently. I had to sit back and ask myself what was wrong. Why wasn't I champing at the bit, eager to get those fingers burning across the keyboard, as per usual? Had I lost interest in a character, got bored with the turns the story had taken - or was I fed up with writing altogether? I knew it wasn’t the latter, but when I thought about it, several problems hit me about the plot. It felt too fussy and one section felt ‘added-on’. I was finding another aspect of the story tedious and I needed one of the characters to be less wish-washy and far more definite about an issue.

As a result (having identified the problem), I needed to do some serious fixing - I deleted huge chunks and re-envisioned the narrative before I could get excited about the story again. 

For me, is clue always stems from ENERGY. If you’re not excited about writing your story – find something – a theme, a setting, a situation, an incident, a character – you are  excited about. 

I get excited about various aspects of a story. I like writing about domestic situations - I think there’s plenty of drama there - you don’t always need to include a political coup, a war, a drug or Mafia ring for a story to be exciting. For me it’s in the psychology - what people do and why they do it. We all have a little bit of mental disorder in us - we’ve all got a touch of something, whether it's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), paranoia, narcissism, phobias, nervous tics, defence mechanisms like denial and telling lies - I’m interested in how these ordinary dysfunctions escalate and what happens when they do. I'm energised by that sense of what happens when things get ‘out of hand’. 

So - find out what you are excited about in your writing.

I’ll write about Writers’ Block stemming from Fear in the next post.