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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dogs and Deadlines

My eldest daughter's dog, Luke, taken by my youngest daughter... He's a tenacious Cairn Terrier

I'm back... and not just blogging on my regularly scheduled day, but in writing too. I have been in such a writer's block for about a month - a very painful, long month. At first I thought it was my nerves before meeting with an editor from Penguin to discuss one of my books. Or maybe from preparing for the SCBWI workshop. Or maybe I was burned out from reading so many MS's a day. I am in two writer's groups, plus the small group I was placed in for the workshop, brought my reading load to 13 MS's or more to read in a week. Looking back, no wonder I was blocked.

But the words are flowing once more and I am thrilled. The sun is shining. It is warm outside and supposed to stay that way for a few days. And you can just feel, spring is a month away. Something internal has clicked on. My family and I went for a long walk along the tow path of the Delaware River today. I love walking on the river, but it's been too cold. Luke, the cairn terrier pictured above, doesn't walk so well on a leash. But Kenzie, my trusty collie/shepherd mix is, of course, perfect all the time - except when she blows her coat twice a year...

So what it is that brought the words back? Who knows? Maybe it ran its course like some word virus. Or maybe it's having a deadline. There's nothing like a solid deadline to kick things back into gear.

Perhaps there's more to it then a simple deadline, but I do have a looming Monday deadline and I knew I had to pump something out or risk losing out on a deadline. So I decided to re-read last week's pages. I prepared myself to throw 90% of it away, but was surprised that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. While in my blocked state, I couldn't see the forest through the trees, or the words through the pages. And then seeing I actually had something to work with, I relaxed and wrote forward. This is not to say that I will not become blocked once again and fail to believe in my process. Whatever it is that stops me or allows me to write, one thing's for sure - it just feels so damn good to be back!

Here's the best way I can describe what I was recently experiencing... when I am blocked, I feel like I am over thinking every single word. I feel like I force the words. And the best way i can describe it, is I feel like I am writing from the front of my brain, where I believe the ego lives. But when I am truly in a writing zone, it feels like I am in a trance, like I am writing from within a very deep inner self, one that is not conflicted by ego or over thinking things. Yesterday, without agonizing over it, I just naturally fell into that inner core.

So what is it that stops me from reaching this core, and what is it that allows me to reach it at other times? I have no idea! I hope with time and experience I will learn to control it and not the other way around. I will learn to trust my process and know that at the end of every writer's block, comes a flood of words.

So, the sky has parted and the heaven's sing, Ahhhhhhhhhhh...

What do you do to get yourself through a rough bout of writer's block?

I am going to start a new Sunday tradition. I am going to include a short excerpt from my novel, but nothing that can kill the buzz or give away too much of the story. Just a line or two, or perhaps a paragraph at the most that I feel proud of for one reason or another. So, here it goes...

Excerpt 1: It felt like time held its breath, as Grandma May’s lacy curtains stood rigid against the breeze from too much starch. It was as if the onlookers were watching a play with a cast of two: me and Papa, not sure how this story was going to unfold, but sure it wouldn’t be a happy one.

Happy Writing Everyone!
Sheri ks, ks

14 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

I reread The Lightning Thief when I need to get in the writing mood.

Welcome back! I'm glad it's all going great.

I remember I used to bowl in a league (and no, I suck). At first it was so much fun. Then I started thinking about it way too much each time I rolled the all. Hand straight. Feet on arrows. Arm stiff. Whatever. And I got way worse and was having no fun. Kids came. No more bowling league. But now we have a Wii and I can bowl at home and strike a lot!

ChristineEldin said...

Very nice!
(why don't you give us a preview of next week's excerpt?)
:-)

Sheri said...

PJ and Christine, thank you for sticking with me through all my hullabaloo!

Bowling huh? Hmmm. I have a whole new image of you... Only kidding! My sister and husband are great at bowling. I truly do suck! I am the worse bowler in the universe. Any sport with a ball in it - is not a good thing for me...

Thank you, Christine... a preview aye? But then the few of you who have stuck with me will have no reason to come back... ;) I am kind of nervous about posting excerpts - exposed - not like I am afraid of comments - I have tough writer's skin, but you know - just posting something that is not under contract.

Is this a dangerous thing to do???

Dawn Buthorn said...

I call that trance-like feeling a visit from my muse. It truly feels like someone else has written it when I am in the "zone". My hubby asks me when he gets home each day if the muse was friendly. My job is to be in my seat with my fingers on the keys when she shows up.

Sheri said...

Hi Dawn, and thanks for visiting my blog. I agree - it is a visit from your muse, or some greater "over-soul." And it does feel like you are not writing it or coming up with the words, which is what makes editing such a challenge sometimes when you must condsider gettign rid of a favorite word or phrase...

Do you also write children's books?

Dawn Buthorn said...

Hi Sheri, yes I am halfway through a middle grade novel (in a bit of writer's block at the moment, but it'll pass eventually, I hope) and I have 2 pb's written. I submitted them to Tracey Adams (agent) after hearing her speak at the scbwi conference in ny. I know it's a long shot, but it's one that had to be taken. I'm beginning my mfa in children's writing at Vermont College this summer. After that I'll be more confident in making submissions.
What are you working on now?

Sheri said...

Hi Dawn,
I am also working on a middle grade novel. AND... I also just went through a bit of writer's block. I think I am going to call it from now on... a writer's percolation period, because really it is not that you are not writing, it is that you are percolating.

I also have a few picture books, but I don't do as well with such confined writing. I need a good 250 pages to stretch my wings in...

ChristineEldin said...

No, it's not dangerous at all.

*gets ready with the copy and paste functions and a dozen agent addresses*

You just go ahead and post now, ya hear?

heh heh
:-)

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good to see you've gotten over the writer's block curse. I'm slowly shaking off my spell of it. It bites, doesn't it? Good luck with your writing!

Lori said...

Maybe that's what I had. There was a week where I was overworked and stressed. The result - I couldn't string two sentences together coherently.

Is what you suffered writer's block or exhaustion? :))

Sheri said...

Christine - what do you mean *...a dozen agent addresses* I sound so naive, but does this mean I could send a link of my blog to agents?

Hip and Lori - my new term for writer's block is writer's percolation period. It has a more positive spin, don' cha' think?

Danette said...

I feel like I am over thinking every single word.

I hate that feeling!

Rebecca said...

If I start feeling like I'm over-thinking every single word, I walk away. For as long as it takes. Work on something else. Get lost in a book. Usually, when I come back, everything flows the way it's supposed to. For a while, anyway!

I'm glad to here you've gotten back into your groove!

Sheri said...

Isn't it so relieving to know that we all, pretty much all, suffer from this annoying affliction from time to time? Misery loves company, after all...

I can't tell you how many times I am telling fellow writers who suffer from a percolation period - Don't worry, it will soon pass and when it does, you will be better for it - and yet when I go through it, I struggle and struggle. And all my writer friends come back and say, didn't you just tell me... Yes, yes, I know. And even though I do believe that, it just sucks when you go through it, doesn't it? Especially when you know where you want to go with your story, but the words just sound too contrived. It's like the main character has stepped out of my brain for a brief vacation or something. And I am stuck waiting for her to return. And when she does i want to cry, "Where have you been????"

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous