I’ve been pretty up front about it: I’ve been in a writing funk for the better part of three weeks now.
Outline done, rough draft under way, I suddenly found myself stuck after chapter ten.
My novel is resting at thirty chapters in my outline, so getting thrown off my tracks in chapter ten was not a good sign.
I’d been wracking my brain for a solution to my mental block nightmare but to no avail. I was stuck, no two ways about it.
And while I had lightly worked my way through my slump over the last week or so, I still wasn’t running at full capacity.
You see, when I’m on, I’m ON. I can pump out thousands of words a day (my record is 10,000 words in one day, multiple sittings) for the sake of a quick rough draft. It’s my preferred style of drafting my novels: first draft is rough, second draft is refined, third draft is revised as far as I can take it before I need to hand it over to someone else lest I get lost down a perfectionist rabbit hole.
But for some reason, despite knowing I was supposed to just write through it, I was still struggling to come up with the next sentence, scene, or even a snippet of dialogue.
I had blamed it on a bad outline, a lack of self-confidence, even a lack of external validation, but addressing those things didn’t help transform my sludge-like stream into a forceful river rapid.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. I was convinced my story was somehow epically flawed and I couldn’t possibly pull my shit together.
Or that I wasn’t a good enough fiction writer.
Or that I was comparing myself to all of the other writers in the world (sorry, Lee Child, you took the bulk of my angst, lol) and it left me feeling unqualified.
Then, on a fed up whim, I decided to move my office furniture around…
Sometimes, we serve ourselves a curveball to the face without even realizing it.
At the beginning of May (exactly 26 days ago to this post date), my husband and I painted the interior of our house and in doing so, decided to switch office spaces for the first time in a year.
At the time, I had officially quit my job as a web developer and was diving head first into the whole “Noveldom thing” and was more than happy to give up the office with the top-floor penthouse view for the meager one downstairs with the somewhat-interesting-at-the-right -angle street view.
And boy, did I underestimate how much I used that GORGEOUS view as eye candy whilst neck deep in the throes of writing!
So this morning, after having switched the direction of my office desk from facing my office doors (meh), to facing the window overlooking the street (NATURE!!!), I’ve gone from writing hardly 500 shit-tastic words a day (barely able to scrounge together a sentence that feels coherent and substantial), to well over 4,000 words of high-quality prose before noon (I wake up at five o’clock in the morning and get to work by six, so calm down everyone).
So what’s this post’s piece of troubleshooting advice? If you’re stuck in a rut and you can’t figure out why, take a gander at your surroundings and see if they inspire you.
Turns out, I’d gotten used to a “certain lifestyle” (a.k.a. a room with a dope view) and when I gave it up, I lost a crucial part of what helps my writing flow: being able to stare off into nature and/or the world before me while I type.
In fact, I wrote most of this post while staring off into the distance at a hummingbird the color of an Arizona postcard fluttering about in the trees across the street in search of nectar from ripe, Willy Wonka buttercup flower lookalikes dangling like ornaments on the branches.
Yea? Ya like that sentence up there? That’s because of the staring off into nature thing.
Every time I stare off into the distance at something beautiful while I write, my mind focuses on creating the simplest sentences to describe a scene (and not what I think I ought to type to make something sound good) and BAM…word magic.
Hummingbird the color of Arizona.
What have you found in your writing routine that if you take away disrupts your abilities entirely?
I’m useless without a decent view of something interesting (which apparently does not include anything indoors…including my cats, sorry guys).
I’m useless if I have a bad day right out of bed.
If I go on vacation, I struggle to stick to any semblance of a writing schedule (and have been shamed on twitter for *LE GASP* insinuating that my writing is work and not something that I just miraculously love to do…Judgey McJudy, over there).
And, finally, if I take away rewards for milestones accomplished, I end all attempts at meeting those milestones…but that’s the same with everyone, right? Right?!
Chocolate for the win 😀