Think Tank

ImageI normally have a few writing projects on the go at once. As you’ve may have read in my previous blogs I have a book I’ve been working on for about four years, which I have no intent on really ever finishing, but I do get the motivation from time to time to work on it. I have about two or three books that need editing and rewrites and I have to try and submit a blog every two weeks. This is on top of little things I write down as they come to me, normally ideas for short stories to write later or plot twists for books I’m yet to write. But lately, I’ve been busy. I haven’t had time to sit down and write or get up Saturday morning with a coffee and write a blog. I’ve been running around doing things that have a higher priority than writing.

ImageLast night I sat down to write a blog and didn’t have any ideas. I brain stormed for about half an hour and couldn’t come up with one thing. I thought ‘do I have writers block?’ I’ve never had it before and didn’t think I ever would. But what I released was I’d fallen into the trap I had known about since I started writing and Chuck Palahniuk put it best when he wrote ‘You don’t sit on the toilet if you don’t need to shit.’ I was sitting at the computer, with nothing to write, trying to force myself to write, and it just wasn’t happening. In the past, if I didn’t feel like writing, I would edit. If I didn’t feel like editing, I would write a short story, or not write at all. Usual my writing ‘tank’ is full by the weekend and I have enough fuel to just sit down, at any time, and write until it runs dry. With work and other commitments I hadn’t been able to fill this tank, so I was running on empty.

Sometimes it’s hard to switch on the motivation. When I’ve worked on books in the past, and known I had to finish them, it was hard to force myself to sit in the chair and write. I had figured out a trick though. If you don’t feel like writing, reread the last two or three pages you wrote and I almost guarantee that you get instantly motivated. Your brain is transferred back to that point, exactly where you left off and you’ll soon be typing away. That’s why I like to start new books only after my tank is overflowing with motivation and ideas, so when I sit down to start, I can crank out two chapters in an hour or two and get a good start on the book.

A couple of years ago I was writing a book called ‘Raul the Son’ about a race of very old, potato-men like creatures. Raul was the youngest and had to leave the colony to search for the sun. When I was writing it, it became very complex. There was a lot of back story and different clans after different things…then I went on holiday for six weeks. It was already up to about 300 pages, so when I got back I had forgotten all the twists and turns and the sub-plots, not to mention a lot of names of characters and places. I liked that book a lot and would have sent to publishers, but it was too hard to jump back into it, so I just left it. I’ve tried twice to go through it, jotting down all the characters and where the story lines were going, but it was a mess. It needed to be rewritten and edited, badly. So, Raul the Son sits half finished in writers limbo. I have the fuel to finish it, just not the time. I’d written it so long ago that I feel like I had moved on to other projects.

ImageI don’t think writers block is a real issue. The issue is sitting down to write when you have nothing. Maybe the time that books has been sitting idle will draw you back to the keyboard and you’ll sit and stare at it saying ‘come on! Come on!’ and your fingers just won’t move. If you’re halfway through a book, surely you have a vague idea where its headed. I normally know the ending, not in great detail, but enough to write towards it. Think of where your characters are going and what they have to do, or go through to reach the end.

Mitchell Tierney