Block, Fiction, Life, Novel, Real Life, Writing

Not writer’s block, it’s an abduction!

For the first time in eons, I’ve decided not to watch American Idol this season. I doubt they’ll miss me. I’m not in their target demographic, nor am I an educated listener. Quite often, I think someone gave a wonderful performance, and then the judges tear it to pieces. And I confess, I’ve only ever bought one winner’s CD, and that was Daughtry’s. So, yeah. No Idol this year.

I will be watching Mad Men when it returns because it’s great writing, but I really need to limit my distractions, and watching TV is low on my priority list anyway. I have far too many distractions at a time when I need NONE. During lunch with a writer friend last week, we talked about missing the fire we had when we wrote our last books, when the words came so fast we could barely keep up. I’ve had little success stoking that on my WIP.

Recently, I’ve read some blog posts about “excuses” for not writing. Needing long periods of quiet, uninterrupted time was mentioned as a bogus excuse. Well … maybe for those writers it is. I know many writers have small children and manage to write prolifically. I know many writers have day jobs and manage to write prolifically. I’m not one of those writers.

Last year, my schedule changed drastically. Gone, instantly, were the 40 hours per week of being alone, in silence, to write. I knew it might be harder to do, but I thought I could carry on. After all, I had this writing thing down pat. Maybe I could have if the stresses of those circumstances had not increased my fibromyalgia symptoms. It sent them raging, to be honest. Physical pain, I can work with, through, or around, but some of my symptoms are brain related, and that’s a bummer when you’re trying to write.

At times, my brain is foggy. I see the scene, I just can’t quite translate it to words. Like fish in water, the words are right there, but they slip out of my fingers when I try to grab them. Sometimes I can only see the shadows in a scene and when I look for the objects that cast them, they jumble and I can’t make sense of anything. It’s like The Muse is teasing me. Cruelly.

Then there’s the ADD-like symptoms. I open my file, type a few words, and then I find myself in the kitchen making tea. Or checking the pantry for dinner ingredients. Or googling for toothpaste without sodium laurel sulfate. Or playing a Facebook game. Or—believe it or not—cleaning out the junk drawer. Why did I stop writing? I have no clue. It just happens. Abducted by my alien brain.

When I realize what’s happened, I sit back down. I may write a paragraph or two at a time, so that’s progress of a sort, but the pace is horribly frustrating. It’s not as if I’m a literary writer who turns out a masterpiece every decade or two. So, the writing’s not going too well, but it’s not for lack of trying.

By the way, if any of you fibro suffers have a suggestion for fighting the fog and lack of concentration, I’d love to hear it.

29 thoughts on “Not writer’s block, it’s an abduction!”

  1. The good news is that you wrote this very interesting and informative post so, you are in fact, WRITING! I really hope that the pace picks up and you are back to your old self sooner than soon!

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  2. I’ve always figured that the novelists who can write novels in small snatches of time are extroverts (who dislike quiet) and either pansters or exceptional plotters.

    Plotting is my weakness, and I need blocks of time in a somewhat quiet location to research and world-build (an activity that terrifies me, regardless of the common opinion that it’s supposed to be fun) then to remember why certain things need to happen. When I’m frequently distracted, my dialogue goes no where and my narrative looks like a quantum experiment–full of unexplained leaps.

    Distractions aren’t always a bad thing, though. When I mysteriously walk away from a story or start organizing something that didn’t need organizing a moment before, that’s usually a sign that something with my story is bothering me.

    See, each abduction might be your subconscious mind’s way of saying that something in your story isn’t working quite right, or that *you* aren’t working quite right. Maybe you really need that tea, or maybe you need to re-organize a scene.

    I procrastinate the most when I’m afraid to face an aspect of the writing process. The best solution seems to be to face my fear, by writing about what I was trying to work on and what gets in my way.

    Good luck with fighting your fog, Linda.

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    1. I’ve experienced the “oblique” writing before, Ann, the need to take a break and let your subconscious work out something, but this is a whole different animal. This foggy brain and lack of concentration applies to everything I do lately, not just writing. (I guess I should have said that.) Sometimes I just give up and take a nap.

      But I do know that fear you mentioned. I went through a spell of that before I started work on this novel. I procrastinated a long time before I made myself just sit down and start. Once I did, I quickly wrote all these notes and first draft scenes, but now the rest is going at a snail’s pace. It’s just so frustrating.

      Oh, I truly understand about being interrupted in the middle of dialogue. When I “hear” mine, I take dictation, so when someone interrupts me, they interrupt my characters’ conversation.

      I hope your writing is going great. And thank you for the well wishes. 🙂

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  3. I think it is a sign that you need to take a break; sometimes stepping away from the task works wonders–get the juices flowing again. I go through those spells every time I visit my grandchildren, I never want to come back home and it usually takes me a few days to get back into writing mode after the visit. Maybe you can work on research, or plan the book cover, or do something related to your book–even if you are not there yet, it might help inspire you.
    I hope you feel better soon.

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    1. Thank you for the well wishes, Marcia. I think for now I just have to be satisfied with writing a paragraph at a time. But I am making plans to do something else creative that doesn’t involve words, hoping to shake things loose.

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  4. As a fibro sufferer, I hear you on the fog. The most useful tool I’ve used to combat it, is paper and pen. Really. for some reason, I can get my words down on paper with a pen, much faster and easier than I can sitting in front of a screen.

    I’m sure there’s some sort of scientific jargon that it’s called, but I don’t know what it is. Neuro stimuli blah blah blah

    And once it’s down on paper, then I transfer it to the computer, and because it’s already written, it feels like I”m just transferring dictation.

    And then, the next time I look at it, I’ve forgotten that I wrote it, and it’s like reading a whole new book, so it’s easier to revise. It’s not the revision process that gets me it’s the initial writing, that’s why I do it with Paper and pen.

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    1. Thanks for weighing in, Anne. I didn’t know you had FMS too. Oh my, writing with pen and paper. That may fit my slow brain better right now, but my handwriting has deteriorated so much, and it wasn’t all that great to begin with. I think I’ll give it a try though, and hope I can decipher later what I’ve written. 🙂

      And I guess the forgetting does help with revision. 😀

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