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Writer's Block for Beginners

Updated on March 3, 2014
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Day Four


I’ve been a writer my whole life. I’ve never published a book, and I’ve only just begun writing articles, but I’ve been telling stories on paper and in person since I first learned to speak.

Less than a month ago, I decided it was time to turn my happenstance lying into an award-winning novel sure to draw in audiences from around the globe. I’ve always had ideas, so that was not a problem. I’ve also always had characters, another thing that was not a problem.

There I was making a firm decision to alter my life and the life of my family by isolating worse than usual, clickity-clacking the keys at a furious pace as my husband tried to sleep, and putting all of my perfectly executed words down onto my document, so that you, the reader could be a part of my masterpiece.

I began creating lives for my characters, I breathed into them personality and voice, very different from one another, I fell in love with every aspect, I invited them into my world, I dreamt of them. For 9 days, I wrote without hesitation, without an end in sight, with only a story to be told. Life was grand and I was quickly on my way to finishing the whole 70-80 thousand words in less than a month…

…so I thought.

Here’s where life took a turn for me- once I hit 35,000 words, I got cocky. Sure that I was putting out a Nobel worthy piece of art, I began romanticizing my life as a wealthy author. Knowing every human on the planet would be vying for my next work of brilliance, I began looking at 4 million dollar homes, holiday homes on the coast of France, and furniture of the finest Italian quality.

I shopped online at all the most expensive stores, sure that in a few short months all of my money problems would be substituted with the billions my first novel, and its motion picture, would bring in.

As the cockiness grew, so too grew my need to find the one agent out of so many, that would be honored to represent the likes of me. Making my way through the hundreds of how-to pages over the internet, I found what each one wanted, what I needed to do, and what I could do to improve my already perfect partial manuscript.

Yes, at 35,000 words, I knew anyone would read the first chapter and be floored at my level of creativity and intelligence and probably even give me an advance on my royalties. I had arrived…

…or so I thought.

The day after finding the perfect agent, I woke up feeling a sense doom. Before this woman I’d chosen could beg me to pick her, I had some work to do. Opening up Word and reviewing my first 5 thousand words, I was appalled at how infantile my writing seemed, how immature my storyline. I tried writing a query letter with a synopsis and found I could not, for the life of me, write anything at all. I had only a blank page in front of me with a cursor blinking, almost teasing me.

That was four days ago.

Since then, I have quietly discovered that my ego had been so inflated that I was unable to see my feeble writing for what it was-a beginner novel. I hadn’t had the ability to read my work, objectively. I had no idea that when it came down to it, when it was time to show my work to an editor or agent, I would suddenly have my feet stuck in the snow. Nor did I think I would have so many adverbs, adjectives, and super-duper long sentences to cut. Most importantly though, I didn’t think I would ever suffer from the unspeakable-the ill-fated writer’s block. Not me, not ever…

I thought wrong.

In these past four days, I have:

1. Searched Trip Advisor for local, cheap vacations guaranteed to give me back my groove.

2. Taken every “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You” quiz and each respective quiz, thereafter.

3. Rearranged my bedroom using a cool link I found while doing number 4.

4. Searched the depths of Facebook for any and all interesting ideas to help with writer’s block, but usually ending up on really cool websites for teenaged girls.

5. Used Stumbleupon.com to find, also, ideas to help with writer’s block, but usually reading only the articles about how to sell more books. (Mind you, I am barely halfway through)

6. Used Pinterest to look up quotes to help with writer’s block. (Also for redecorating my bathroom, and making a biodegradable birdhouse out of old socks)

7. Made 8,485,747,574,778 cups of coffee.

8. Gone to dinner with a friend to take my mind off my book, only to spend the entire two hours talking about my book.

9. Sent out excerpts to every person I know, hoping at least one would tell me how perfectly brilliant I am and how nothing needs to be changed.

10. Dyed my hair cherry-red.

11. Thought about what I would wear at my funeral, then made a playlist for the occasion.

12. Pet my dogs an uncomfortable amount of times.

13. Typed “What is the most heart-wrenching song you’ve ever heard,” into Google, listened to each song, and downloaded each song (The amount of crying that goes with this one is embarrassing).

14. Forced my husband to take me out to dinner to take a break from my book, only to spend that entire two hours talking about my book.

15. Scraped all the fingernail polish off my fingernails.

16. Read Stephen King’s “On writing” to get a quick fix.

17. Written 2000 words of dialogue three times, only to erase it all each time.

18. Taken approximately 12 long baths.

19. Looked up fancy ways to fix eggs.

20. Brushed my teeth 8 times a day.

21. Planned two summer vacations.

22. Made a wish list at IKEA

23. Refused to do housework because it “will take me out of my writing place and I need to stay in my writing place.”

As I sit here now, I have yet to complete a single sentence for my book that remains. It is obvious I do not have writer’s block, per se, but novel block.

Today, I loathe the characters I had come to love. I hate every word I have written, and I cannot see myself putting one more second of my time into that crap book.

That being said, I know it isn’t true, but only because I’ve looked up every article on the matter that Google could provide.

My mind tells me there’s no way I can make it work. My mind also tells me I am a failure at writing, and nothing I write will ever be read.

I know this is a lie because I have just put out 1014 words here, and you are reading it.

I suppose I just needed to get all this out so that there might be a chance I can continue that stupid book that sits on my desktop. I mean, it will come back, right? I will once again love my characters, right? This is normal insanity, right?

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I do not not know much. I am just a home grown kind of hilly billy that universities seem to like in a certain way. I think that at my old age I have written nearly one billion words. funny isn't that.

      I am not as good as you. And I will buy your novel. Ya'll write real fine. And my people would dang well be proud to read it and pass it from kin to kin.

      Please write for us and let all hell be damned. We would be joyous.

    • profile image

      Natasha Peters 3 years ago

      Great hub, made me chortle! The only reassurance I can really offer is this:

      I think you write splendidly, and your writer's block WILL pass. Besides, four days of writer's block is nothing. I wouldn't even worry if you needed to take a week or two, or even a month. You want your story done right, after all. You'll be perched on your Italian sofa, sipping cocktails, and gazing out at the eiffel tower through a set of luxurious windows soon enough, I'm sure!

    • bipolartist profile image
      Author

      Amy Magness Whatley 3 years ago from United States of America

      Eric,

      Thank you, Sir. I believe those are the kindest words you've said to me. I appreciate it, greatly.

      Natasha,

      Chortle, haha! I'm currently beginning day five, so I'm unsure if I'm in the block-vortex or if today might be the day I again love my characters. Will know more after three more cups of coffee.

      Thanks for your kind words, really.

    • bipolartist profile image
      Author

      Amy Magness Whatley 3 years ago from United States of America

      UPDATE: Since writing this, I have successfully completed 7,000 more words. It isn't great, but it is so much better than 0.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      A great written hub, you sure can write! I have never written a book but i have been diving in to a lot of different projects. Big plans, after a while i have been "blocked" or putted down, lost my self confidence. In the cases I decided to keep struggling it have, after a while turned again and i have got some flow again. So keep your head up and struggle on. Set some goals that are realistic for you to reach one by one.

    • bipolartist profile image
      Author

      Amy Magness Whatley 3 years ago from United States of America

      Kerlund74,

      I finished my first draft a few days after making this hub. It was 65K words. I am almost done with my final draft, at 75k words. My goal is 85K because that's what any publisher wants to see.

      I found my writer's block is only an issue when I hit a significant mark. For instance, I have not written in three days, because I hit my first goal of 75K. It's the self-sabotage portion of my right hemisphere, I'm afraid.

      I sent out five query letters last week and have just received my first rejection letter, which, for some very strange reason, elated me.

      Thanks for the confidence.

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