Well,two weeks ago, I was all fired up to shed my bad summer habits (and perhaps even a few pounds) and kick off this fall with a renewed commitment to my writing discipline. And I have been walking the walk -- I submitted the first 30,000+ words of my book to my new editor and coach, Brooke Warner, and to a few other key readers, and got feedback that encouraged me immensely. Confident at last that I had completed a solid draft of part one of my novel (solid enough to move on, anyway), I created, with Brooke, a plan to complete part two between now and December 14th. I updated my outline. I blocked out writing time. And here I am. My butt is in the chair. The book, I pray, is in my brain. So why oh why won't it come out? Come out, come out, book! I'm right here, waiting!
This week, I can confidently say that I have not yet managed to write a single new paragraph I feel confident in. And I'm trying not to panic about it.
I've been writing long enough to know that this happens. I have had enough experience wallowing in wretched writing days to know that they are often followed by glorious breakthroughs. But when you are standing on a street corner getting rained on, knowing the sun will come out eventually doesn't make you feel any drier.
So my question for today is: what do you do when you are stuck? Today I have gone between editing and reediting a thousand words I don't really like but can't bring myself to cut, to lying on my bed reading "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" (hilarious), to trying to find a decent-priced plane ticket home for the holidays (a task more impossible than writing, but which at least comes with someone besides myself to blame for the failure). But I wonder, at a certain point, if I wouldn't have been a lot better off removing my butt from the chair, going outside, and taking a walk.
My friend Amy Fox, one of the smartest writers I know, tells her students they should all have something they do when there's nothing-doing on the writing side. After X hours of bad, go to the movies. After X hours of zilch, play guitar. But how many hours is X? And can you let go of that infamous writer's guilt long enough to go to the movies when YOU SHOULD BE WRITING?
My next post, I promise, will be all about how good it feels to be frolicking in the warm sun of creative bounty again. Or at least that's what I have to believe. Otherwise, I might not be able to get my butt back in the chair.