Thursday, August 23, 2018

Writer's Block by Sharee Stover


Writer’s block is a topic known and well-discussed among authors. It’s a normal part of the process.

But I have a confession to make…Writer’s block is something I’d never experienced.
Wait!
Before you throw a tomato at the screen, let me explain.
The majority of the time, stories and characters are tumbling around in my brain faster than I can write them down. Day and night. They never stop. Then something happened…
Around the start of winter, my writing stumbled. I struggled to find words and thoughts that made any sense. That lingered all through spring…
Summer came. That time when my kids were all home for three wonderful months. When the sun rose bright and early with birds singing and didn’t set until after my bedtime. And summer is busy in our house. Lots of traveling, weddings, and events to attend, but I still made time to write. Problem was, my mind packed up all my writing ideas and characters and took a vacation—without me—I was baffled.
I’d stare at that blinking cursor while it mocked me and think, C’mon! Anything. Type anything. To anyone not really paying attention to me, the clicking of my keyboard made it sound like I was working hard, but the truth was, I spent more time hitting the backspace key than putting actual words on paper.
I prayed and prayed. Then I became desperate. Reading anything and everything about writer’s block and how to overcome it. My inner editor, perfectionist that she is, critiqued every sentence I tried to type. None of it was good enough, so I hit the delete key over and over.
“What is wrong with me?” I asked anyone willing to listen to my tale of woe.
“Take a break.”
“Step away from the story.”
“Start over.”
Those were the most common words of advice, and they frustrated me. I wanted someone to give me the magical cure that would restore my writing brain. Months passed and nothing…will I ever write again? The fear that my greatest dream had been ripped from my hands tore at my heart, and the more I tried to force myself to write, the more the cursor mocked me.
When my family and I headed off to our long-planned, saved-for anticipated family vacation, I contemplated whether to take my laptop. After all, it hadn’t been beneficial all summer, but for me, my computer is as necessary as my wallet. So, just in case…I packed it.
I didn’t intend to write. For the first time ever, I determined I would not write. I was on vacation. I planned to spend the days enjoying the sun, the beach and most of all, my family. I didn’t anticipate writing anything. I gave myself the week off and the grace to NOT write.
And the week was fabulous, perfect weather and food. Great memories that I’ll forever cherish. Then, the strangest thing happened. As I sat in the airport ready for our return flight home…WHAM! An idea came to me. I spent the next hour free writing the first chapter. No plotting. No planning. Just spewing happy words all over the screen. No longer did the cursor mock me. No longer did I feel the pressure of “I have to write something today!” Just words. Glorious, wonderful, unedited words.
For the first time, I wasn’t stressed about how much I hadn’t done and thinking, Hurry up. You’re running out of time. Much like staring at the alarm clock in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. As if reminding yourself that you have four hours left, three hours left, etc. is somehow going to convince your body to surrender and sleep.
I relaxed and allowed my fingers to fly across the keyboard, and it was freeing.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I know there will always be deadlines and things we have no control over. Times when things have to get done regardless of our brain’s willingness to participate, and we can’t all take a vacation every time those moments come, but maybe one of the things that will help most in those times is to give ourselves grace. Grace to just deal with life on life’s terms until we can return to the wonderful place of creativity. Grace to not perform perfectly, one hundred percent all the time. Grace to rejuvenate.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I’m harder on myself than I would ever be on a friend, co-worker or family member. I expect myself to perform perfectly all the time. And that’s silly, but no one can do that, and I’d never expect anyone else to. I’d give them grace.
Have you experienced writer’s block? What was one way you overcame it? What advice would you give to a friend going through such a period of writer’s block? Or, what was the best advice someone has given you?
 
Secret Past
 
Her life is a lie

She’s not who she thinks she is

With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She’s been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her. As bullets fly, US marshal Daniel Knight whisks her to safety—but not for long. Captured and held prisoner, only Katie can unearth her secret past…if she can survive long enough.
Colorado native Sharee Stover lives in Nebraska with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and two ridiculously spoiled dogs. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. Her Christian romantic suspense stories combine heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one.
 
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Nebraska Writer’s Guild. Sharee is a two-time Daphne du Maurier finalist and the winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award.
 
When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable
German Shepherd. 
 
Visit her at www.shareestover.com

22 comments:

  1. I can agree with every word you wrote, Sharee! I have experienced writer's block. It's not fun. :) Like you, I'd encourage others to embrace grace. It is amazing how words begin to flow when we step back and breathe. Thank you for the reminder. Great post!

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    1. Gail, sometimes knowing we're not the only one suffering with it can be a help all by itself. Grace to you!!

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  2. Good morning Sharee - wonderful post and great advice. I can so agree - I’m way harder on myself than I would be on a friend. Good luck and blessings!

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  3. Good morning, Sharee! I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been to freeze up under a deadline. I'm happy to hear it resolved. Maybe another trip to the retreat center will help if that ever happens again. I'm sure we could dig up a few other writers to brainstorm, laugh, and jump start our creative juices. Thanks for sharing. I hope it helps to know you're not alone. We could all use a writing weekend about now. Love you, sweet sister.

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    1. Brainstorming is so much fun! I'm definitely game for another one of those and maybe it'll be preventative medicine for the next writer's block! Hugs my friend!!

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  4. Sharee, your thoughts on giving yourself grace are important. Remembering we...and our words....don’t have to be perfect is valuable. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m pleased your took time for yourself and have found inspiration again. Travel often does that for me. Blessings for your continuing journey!

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    1. Maybe that's one of the best things about writing with God Sherida, we're never alone and He provides just what we need when we need it. Hugs!!

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  5. Hi Sharee. Most of us have been there. One of the "good" things about not being published is no deadlines. But deadlines do happen when are dreams are realized, and with them come the dreaded writer's block. I usually get through it by forcing myself to write something and allowing it to be garbage - but no deleting. Just write it until the words are flowing. That works for me but we're all different. The place and time can be all wrong when it finally happens, but go for it anyway. Who cares if we have our laptop out on the beach? You just have to watch where you set it so you don't have "lap-top tan lines."

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    1. Cindy, I love that! Write garbage! :) And I'm giggling over here about laptop lines! Wouldn't those be fun conversation starters with strangers?

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  6. Hi Sharee, thanks for sharing your experience! "writers block" is real even if we call it something else..."creativity" block, or whatever. You're so right about not being hard on ourselves and cutting ourselves some slack once in awhile. I find whenever I'm "blocked" it's because of fear. And the best thing for me is to write something else, like a blog post that doesn't have to be the be-all-and-end-all, or to listen to some worship choruses. And needing a vacation is a reality - I keep telling my husband that "going home" to deal with elderly and sick parents is NOT a vacation, and we need to take one! Taking care of ourselves and our families that way is most important. Good for you for putting your family first and then the words came all by themselves. God honours our priorities. :)

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    1. OH Laurie, that's so good. Yes, FEAR is a huge blocker. May your next vacation be right around the corner :) Hugs my friend!!

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  7. Sharee, I truly understand. Sometimes the words are just not there for me, but then they'll return at the strangest times. I've learned to just go with it. Grab whatever bits and pieces I can, wherever and whenever I can, and get the words down (even if it's scribbled in a little notebook I carry). Even if they don't make a bit of sense to anyone else at that point. Thank you for sharing. So glad you had a breakthrough, and not a breakdown :-) Looking forward to reading your next book!

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    1. Yes! I think we all carry those little notebooks. I've written at the strangest times in the strangest places but when the words come, we gather them! I just hate when the come in the shower. It's hard to write on paper in there :) Hugs!!

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  8. Sharee, I felt your frustration in every word! For me, I knew I was at a point I needed to step away from everything writing. My brain, heart, soul simply needed a break. But I couldn't imagine stepping away. If I stepped away, I would accomplish zero writing. But the truth is, I wasn't accomplishing anything anyway! Unfortunately, my mother's illness forced me to stop writing for a few months. But the time away was renewing and rekindled my desire to write. Instead of thinking, "I have to write" (stress), I started thinking, "I want to write" (enjoyment). --I'm so happy for you that you made it to the other side. Your readers (me!) are waiting for your next book!

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    1. Oh Karen, real life stress can suck the life right out of us. I've heard people say that those hard times gave them what they needed to share in their stories. I love that God uses even our tears and pain to touch others. And you're so right, stress writing and enjoyment writing are two very different things. Hugs sweet sister!

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  9. Giving myself permission to daydream has helped me. When I clear my head of clutter and let my thoughts wander, my brain is given the freedom to create again.

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    1. Yes, yes, yes! I love daydreaming too Dawn! Sometimes I can envision my characters like a movie and I just travel along with them.

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  10. Hi, Sharee. When I started writing, I wrote one book and I was on the last chapter of my second when I experienced writer's block. Every day for two weeks, I'd go to the library and try to write and nothing. I then found out I was expecting twins. I don't know why that impacted me, but when they were in preschool, I started writing again. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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  11. I don't believe in writer's block.

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    1. Interesting comment Cheryl. Can I ask why?

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  12. Hi Sharee! I'm so sorry I'm late stopping by, but wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience with us. I think many of us can relate to this! I will admit I have always been *very* hard on myself, and it's something I continue working on. Years ago I remember my precious Mama telling me that I was "my own worst enemy" because I was so critical of myself! She was right, of course. :) Giving grace to others AND ourselves is so important, and as writers we especially need that grace.
    I'm so happy you were able to enjoy your wonderful family vacation, and happy that you were able to return to your keyboard, joyfully pounding out the words! :)
    Hugs and Love, Patti Jo

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  13. Sharee, thank you so much for spending the day at Seriously Write. Wonderful post and I can definitely relate.

    Absolutely loved Secret Past and I'm looking forward to your next book.

    I hope you will visit us again soon.

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