I find I deal with writer’s block in the same way I deal with a tough boss in a video game. Sometimes, when the same guy has been kicking my butt over and over again, no matter what I do, or how many level grinding sessions I’ve done, I have to just save my game and walk away.
In the same way, I find that I can be writing a passage smoothly, words flowing effortlessly from my hands when all of a sudden, something shifts. Someone might ask me a question, breaking my train of thought, or I might slip over the too tired to write threshold, or I write an incredibly amazing sentence and have no idea what I could possibly say next that could be just as good. At those points, I have to save my file and walk away.
Maybe that sounds a bit counter-productive, but give me a moment to explain.
When Indie authors write, we rarely write for a living. For us, it’s a passion. We scribble plots in the margins of our notebooks instead of paying attention to class. We talk endlessly about our character’s entire life story, and how to work it all into a single book. We fuss around with the most minute details, such as whether an angel could fly after being thrown in a pool of water, or how to describe human emotions like your heart fluttering madly when your character is, well, dead.
Being an Indie author means you really don’t write for a living. Not usually. We have to find time to write outside of our everyday responsibilities. We have real jobs that we go to, children and animals to take care of, and then if there’s time, maybe some time to ourselves. We grapple every day with the injustice that there isn’t enough time in a day for life, let alone to be writing on top of that. How can you justify sitting at the computer and writing when there’s dishes piling out of your sink, cat litter to scoop, and laundry steadily trickling out of your basket like a slow-burning lava flow?
So we write in the margins. We write on the subway on our commute to work. We write on our cell phones in the line at the DMV. We write on our lunch breaks, or while sitting at the pool watching the kids swim, or find a quiet corner to write at our family gatherings.
But let me tell you. Walking away from writing when you have a serious writer’s block is the best and the hardest thing you can do. Because when you walk away, you know that every spare second you spend not writing is a complete waste of time, but in that time your thoughts can begin again. You might be ringing up a customer at work, talking to your neighbor about their Christmas light display, or even driving home, but in those moments, you are thinking. You are thinking about your story and where it sits. Because you walked away, you are thinking about your story, and just itching to get back into it. You want to get back into it. Because let’s face it. We’re Indies. We do this for fun, right?