Identifying Writer’s Block – and Resolving It

One of the fun things about where we stayed on St. Thomas was watching the cruise ships glide by in the mornings and evenings. Extraordinary how these small sailing cites come and go.

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Okay: Writer’s Block.

So, those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time might be surprised by today’s topic. I’ll be up front: I have never believed that Writer’s Block is a real thing. In fact, I had to create the label for it just now. I’m a big believer that habit and ritual will get words down. I’ve always thought that Writer’s Block was more about angsting over the process – and maybe a bit of resistance towards just doing the work – than anything real.

And then I hit it.

I didn’t even know what it was.

See, what happened was, last Friday I got my developmental edits on Platinum. They’re not bad – Editor Deb Nemeth is excellent at her job: specific, clear, good insights. I even wrote a post last week about how she pushes me to write difficult scenes. She also asked me to layer in more detail about the setting in Charleston, SC, and my heroine’s daily life owning an art gallery.

Several of my friends joked that I clearly needed to take a tax-deductible research trip to Charleston. I laughed.

Now, I’ve been to Charleston a few times, but not since, um, maybe ten years ago? And I’ve shopped in art galleries there. I have friends who own small businesses that sell to the public, but they’re more coffee shops and bookstores. But hey, I’m the queen of networking, right? So I set to finding someone to talk to.

I hit wall after wall after wall. Nobody answered their phones or responded to the messages I left. The one gallery owner I talked to, from Santa Fe, was very weird to me. The Charleston Chamber of Commerce interactive marketing director advised me on how to look up galleries on their website.

It was all very weird.

I tried to work on the edits and got nowhere. The layering thing bothered me. I kept Googling, placing calls, asking my email loops.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

So, at lunch on Wednesday, I was whining expressing my frustration to David and he said something was clearly in my way. That I was blocked for some reason. “Normally,” he said, “you just do stuff like it’s no problem. You’re doing something wrong here.”

As soon as he said it, it all made sense. It described precisely how I felt: Blocked. Nothing was flowing as it should. Nothing was going my way on this.

“I think you should just go to Charleston,” he said.

And I laughed, like I’d laughed before. I started to tell him how I didn’t have the time or the money for such an extravagant move. Then it occurred to me that I’d just been told I needed to fly to Providence, RI on June 3, for the day job. That’s at least the correct side of the country. I checked into the plane tickets and I could fly to Charleston on Friday, spend the weekend and be in Providence by Monday morning.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

I’ll tell you what – as soon as I bought that ticket, everything started flowing again. People returned my messages, I started revising happily and easily. Bluebirds perched on my desk and sang sweet songs of joy.

I don’t know why I have to go to Charleston, but it’s clear I do.

I don’t recommend this method for resolving all Writer’s Blocks, but I think the lesson here is to listen to yourself. When you feel blocked at every turn, there’s a message in that. Sometimes the answer is to do that thing you think can’t be done.

It might open all the doors.

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