Why do we run away from our words when it gets hard? And if writing is something we love so much, why do we actively seek something else to do, anything?
On Sunday, I lost my words. Well, maybe it was even before that. Regardless, every time I opened up my novel document, knowing the story curling around in my head, no matter how hard I tried, the words just wouldn't come. The cursor blinked, waiting. My fingers touched the keys. But nothing. I had nothing. The terrible, desperately in need of editing words mocked me. Dared me to delete them. To rewrite them. They bared their glaring fangs, growled. I coiled. Slammed the laptop shut.
This is not a new feeling. As my writing files indicate, I've started 7 novels in the last 15 years. Some are still mere ideas, others actually have a lot of pages. This current one is the farthest along. First ugly draft, second draft three quarters. But it's still terrible. Beyond terrible. Scenes don't make sense, end abruptly, lack energy, tension, pace: all those things that make a story wonderful and immersive.
I read other books. Anything and everything.
I went for walks, using the opportunity to do some much needed research.
In quiet moments, I crawled inside my head. Played the story over again. Working through complicated plot twists, voice problems.
I read blogs delivering writing advice.
And then...there was an election. I focused so intently on what was going on in the real world, the other things that matter. I spent time with friends. I witnessed moments of kindness around me.
And just like that, the words came back.
I don't have an answer except that fiction writers spend a lot of time in their heads. And sometimes we have to slow down, crawl out of our warm little bubbles and join the world around us.
Only for a moment though.