Wednesday, 22 February 2012

When Is A Writer Not A Writer?

When I started (re-started, actually) this blog, it was going to be all about writing. I was going to write about historical settings, research, the locations around London that I'd been to and written about. It was going to be all big and clever, and I was feeling ever so smug about it. Then the novel I had pinned my hopes on was ditched. Firstly by Lovely Agent (who was not so lovely for a brief moment, I can tell you) and then, after much soul searching, by me. It was definitely the right thing to do, and my research and trudging will probably come in handy one day.

And then I started blogging about being ill, which I hadn't intended to do at all. But it seemed like the right thing to do, the thing I wanted to say, and I bunged a bit of writing stuff in as well. But this is not a blog with which to purge my soul, nor is it a blog for talking about cancer all the time. Yes, it's part of me and my life, but it's not everything.

And now? Now I feel like a bit of a fraud writing the blog. I'm writing it as a writer, but at the moment I feel anything but. I have an idea for a new novel. I have a plot. I even have a sub-plot. I have characters. I have settings. I have character sketches. I have character interviews. I have a synopsis (of sorts). I have a chapter plan (ditto). But I have hardly any words. I turn the computer on, I open Scrivener, and I look at the screen. It's not blank. There are 72 words on the page. But that's it. I like this story. I like the protagonist. Yet I just can't get going. Surely writers write. So why can't I do it? Is it because I don't yet have Beckett's (aka Ben Barnes) voice? In my heart I know that by writing the damned thing, his voice will come. Did I spend too long on the ditched story, so that I can't wipe the characters from my subconscious? Was the ditched story it? Will I ever write another one?

Or maybe I should just Get On With It. If anyone has an anti-procrastination mallet, please can they come over and whack me on the head with it? It may well be just what I need.


  1. The first thing you need to do is stop fretting about it. The more you fret, the less you'll be inclined to write. Go off and have some fun. You've been through a very rough time. Allow yourself time out, go and nurture your soul. Then, when you're least expecting it, you'll start to hear whispering. It will wake you up at 3 in the morning when you really want to be asleep. The voices will say, "I'm ready. Now. Get up and write me." And you'll say, "Sod off, I'm sleeping." And then you'll wake up in the morning, trip over the cat, ignore your daughter, demand coffee from your lovely other half and fling yourself at the computer and start writing, and then you won't be able to stop. But first allow yourself space to breathe, to heal at multiple levels and above all, to have fun. *nods very sagely*
    PS you are a writer. don't even bother to doubt that. you even have an agent to prove it.

  2. Thank you, Nicky. I hope you're right. I like the idea of the breathing space though. Does it involve chocolate?

  3. Of course it involves chocolate! How could you even ask the question?! *shakes head, muttering, wanders off to find chocolate*
    PS of course I'm right! >;-) Well, leastways, it always works for me.

  4. Hi Sue,
    I think we all go through droughts like this. Except, you did keep on writing. You wrote your blog. It might not be the next best seller but it proves you are a writer.
    As far as 'getting on with it' goes, I'm with Nicky - be gentle with yourself - the words will come any day now. And chocolate of course. x

    1. Thanks, Wendy! The chocolate is proving very helpful! :-)

  5. I don't have any wise words or solutions, but I do know what it feels like to be in this position (end of the line for WIP, rejection from own agent, the lot). Good luck with finding your way forward, Sue. Something tells me you'll get there...


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