This is a guest post written by Meredith Allard, author of Her Dear and Loving Husband. You can find out more about her books, her writing, and a whole lot more on this website.
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Every writer suffers from writer’s block at one time or another. I have certainly suffered from it many times myself—mainly while I’m writing a first draft. You would think that since I’ve been writing fiction for nearly 20 years it would get easier over time, but it doesn’t. Not even close. It can still be a chore, putting one word next to the other until I have a complete draft, something to work with, anything to work with, a self-created slab of clay I can mold into the story I see so clearly in my mind.
The truth is, I hate writing first drafts of anything—essays, short stories, novels, e-mails. I have, I’m not embarrassed to admit, rewritten grocery lists because I didn’t like the way I organized them. When I’m teaching a writing class I always know what to say to my students to help them deal with writer’s block, but do I listen to my own advice? Rarely. At least not until I’m so annoyed I have to remind myself what I already know about writing.
Mainly, what I have to remember is that my first draft of anything is going to be terrible. There are writers out there who hit a home run with their first draft, but I am definitely not one of them. For whatever reason, my brain needs to look at the story from beginning to end to know what I’m even writing about. Once I remember that my first draft is going to stink, then I find the writer’s block goes away. When I accept up front that my first draft is going to stink, it frees me up to write, as Natalie Goldberg calls it in Writing Down the Bones, “the worst junk in the world.” If I know my first draft is going to stink then I don’t waste needless time staring at a blank computer screen worried about what to write or worried that it won’t be good enough. It won’t be good enough. I know I’ll need to do a crazy amount of rewriting.
I’ve known many people over the years who say they’ve had this great idea for a book for years but they haven’t gotten around to writing it because they have writer’s block. I tell them that if the idea isn’t pressing them to the point of distraction, then it might not be right for them. I tell them that if they have a nice life, a nice job, a nice family, and don’t feel a burning desire to write then they probably won’t. Thinking you want to be a writer and writing are two different things. Writing is hard enough when you feel compelled by Fate to do it. It’s even harder, if not impossible, when you don’t have that burning desire.
When is it time to write? When it’s more painful not to write something than it is to write it. If an idea is gnawing at you and won’t leave you alone to your nice life with your nice family, that’s when the writing process begins. I find the best thing to do is to first, make the decision that you’re going to write, and, second, you have to actually do it. There are days when the words won’t come easily. That’s okay. Write anyway. There are days when I say I was typing rather than writing because I just wrote whatever words came into my brain however they came there. But at least I worked that day, and every day I work on my stories is one day closer to making that story a reality I could share with my readers.
About the Author
Meredith Allard has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction workshops at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. Her short fiction and articles have appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, Wild Mind, Moondance, Muse Apprentice Guild, The Maxwell Digest, CarbLite, Writer’s Weekly, and ViewsHound. She is the author of the Loving Husband Trilogy, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I’d like to thank Meredith for taking the time to do a guest post here on Books and Bindings. It was awesome having you here!
Title: Her Dear and Loving Husband
Series: Loving Husband, #1
Author: Meredith Allard
James Wentworth has a secret. He lives quietly in Salem, Massachusetts, making few ties with anyone. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth’s death, James cannot move on.
Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail. Despite the obstacles of their secrets, James and Sarah fall in love. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. Soon James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sarah and prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?
Part historical fiction, part romance, part paranormal fantasy, Her Dear and Loving Husband is a story for anyone who believes that true love never dies.