I enjoy reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s business blog posts, when I have the chance. They aren’t always pertinent to me, and are often quite lengthy, but worth following. The quieter half of that partnership, Dean Wesley Smith, is more focused on other things, it seems, but when I see a new post from him I pay attention.
Like this one, on the damage we writers do to ourselves. Deadly problems, indeed! I’ve done a couple of these DIY writer’s blocks, and then had a devil of a time extricating myself from the maze I’d set up to hinder my own ability to write. He followed up his initial post with an illustration drawn from his personal experience, on how a series he wrote for fun broke out and made money… nine books in.
As I am struggling to regain the writer’s brain and write daily again, I’ve been poking around under the hood of my own mind, trying to figure out just what makes me tick. I don’t expect to learn anything comprehensive – the human mind is a mystery, and probably always will be – but, well… I learned last week that my car has a cabin air filter. I learned this because I took the car in for an oil change and state inspection, and in the process of that, was asked when that filter had last been changed. The answer is never. I didn’t know it existed. Turns out, it’s up and behind the glove box, bridging the compartment where people go, and the engine cavity under the hood. Mine was full of what looked an awful lot like a mouse nest. The tech showed me, and commented ‘your AC is going to work so much better now!’
She was right. And just in time for the Texas heat to start swelling toward a crescendo. I’ve been feeling like that. Running ideas through the filter of ‘what book am I supposed to be writing?’ has been choking off the airflow to my brain. In particular now, when I’m on restricted time, mental energy, and so much stress that just eases up before Blam, it hits me with another wallop. When I’m not reeling and about to go down for the count? That’s when I can focus the necessary energy on the books that I should complete to tie up series in a tidy bow. Friends who I trust to speak into my life keep reminding me that for me, right now, writing is a hobby. Have fun with it. Play with it. It’s not about trying to support your family, it’s your retirement plan, remember?
In other words, yank out that filter filled up with the grass clippings and lint balls of the past writing. The names of characters you can’t remember how to spell. The loose plot ends you meant to weave into book two, or even three. I’m going to set all that aside, and run with a clean mind. A blank slate of fresh air… and maybe that will fire up the internal desire to delve deeply into a tale. Given enough time. And more coffee.
(header image: ‘Time to Run’ by Cedar Sanderson)