A few weeks ago, I stopped working on The King’s Son. I had been rewriting the third draft for close to a year and had hoped to get it done in the next couple of months, but the words became too difficult to get out. Sometimes I would sit for five hours and produce nothing more than a page or two – a few times only a paragraph or two. It was painful and unenjoyable, and I couldn’t do it anymore.
I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why I couldn’t write: I was still struggling with coming back to Canada after living abroad since 2003 (reverse culture shock is a difficult thing!); my mom, who is suffering from chronic pain, just went in for hip-replacement surgery and I had to help her with that (seeing a loved one in constant suffering is never easy); then there was a failed relationship that crushed me; the confusion of choosing to get a job or not (I really wanted to finish my book first); spending most of my days alone (as most writers do – but especially ones that don’t have a wife and children to take care of); and the list goes on.
But, regardless of all those reasons and how they may have impacted my ability to write, the reality was that my words were no longer coming out. It felt like the vision I had into my story world was getting smaller and smaller and I didn’t know how to reverse it.
So, I didn’t.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, nor a quick one. I had read several blog entries on overcoming Writer’s Block. I tried following their suggestions (or some of them) and came up with a few of ideas of my own. Nothing worked.
Day after day, I sat in front of my computer and wrote less and less – yes, my word count actually started going down. It affected my mood to the point that I dreaded coming to the page and worried if I was ever going to be able to write anything again, or if I’d even want to. I tried to encourage myself by saying that this was all part of the creative process and that every writer suffers from it, but it didn’t help.
Without trying to sound too dramatic, I had sunk into a hole of despair (okay, that is a bit dramatic) and it was getting deeper and deeper.
It was only when I evaluated why I got into writing that I decided to stop: I write for the enjoyment of it, the excitement of meeting characters that lead me on amazing adventures, the chance to create something unique and wonderful with words. I understand that producing stories isn’t always going to be easy – the revision process in particular takes a lot of patience and energy – but, ultimately, there still needs to be that desire to craft tales about plots and characters that I love, and I had lost that.
I don’t regret stopping work on my story. Sure, I wish I could finish it so that I could work on something new. But that’s more about impatience than regret. It was the right decision.
It also sent me in a new direction that got me excited about writing again. I won’t write much about it now. It could easily be a blog post…or three. But, on the advice of my friend/writing buddy/editor, I picked up some books on how to write and have been enthralled! I had no idea how much I had to learn! I think I’m even going to go back and do some more work on the books I’ve already self-published – I see so many ways in which I can improve them. Definitely exciting.
So, that’s where I am with my writing: after a difficult struggle, I’ve decided to put my book aside. But I’m learning more about my craft and can’t wait to see how my writing improves.
I’ll keep you posted.