The answer to Writer’s block: Releasing my Angel
Writer’s block, at least in my case, is related to a temporary insecurity or creative overload!
It just happened to me recently when I finished my novel, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, and my five beta readers, who did not know each other, decided that my ending was not quite right.
I was distraught and totally drained. I was sure I could not add another word to my story. Of course, I was wrong. It did indeed need just a tiny tweak to make it perfect, but where was I to find the energy or creativity to tweak if I was exhausted and completely sapped?
First, I tried to calm down! I took a short break. One day with no talk of the novel. Instead, I immersed myself in the mind numbing tasks of painting, singing, and playing with my grandchildren.
Then I went back to my ending. I still could not see beyond my last line. I went for a walk and imagined a dialogue between the characters. I even ‘spoke’ to them myself about what could happen, as I often do. It helped me get back into the novel, but still I could not envisage another ending.
Surprisingly, I often dream with the characters and events, and I write it all down when I wake up, before I forget! There is a strong subconscious component in writing which helps me move my stories on. Alas, this time, it did not happen in a dream.
I love Michelangelo’s quote, ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free’. I often feel that is just what I am doing. Words are an author’s marble, and I have to combine them in the perfect way to disclose, or set free, my angel, or story. The story is there already. My role is to write until I release it. Why couldn’t I release my angel?
Finally, when I am in such a rut, it also helps me to talk to someone about how I feel and try to work it out. In my case, it has to be someone who knows me well and understands my characters and story. It is usually my daughter, who is a great reader and plotter! So, we talked it through, and moved the story on beyond ‘the end’ and way into the future. Pushing the story forward gave me the perspective I needed to look back at my ending.
I sat down and wrote the few more pages that made the end perfect in just a few hours. I had found my angel, at last.
Of course, my real angel is my daughter.
Do you need an angel to overcome your writer’s block? Who is your angel?