It's mini-celebration time for me! I just finished the first draft of a new manuscript. Normally, I can write one in two months, three max. I've done it seven times before. This time...I needed eight months.
It felt like an eternity.
It felt like I'd lost the ability to create.
It felt like I was no longer a writer.
There were all kinds of good reasons why my WIP (work in progress) took so long. A scary, chronic illness in the family. A brain pre-occupied with worry, with what might happen and with what else I could do to help. A day job that ate into my free time. A change in the kids' school schedule that meant they came home earlier, and that I had less time alone to write.
For weeks at a time, I created no new words. But I wasn't doing nothing. Instead of writing, I read a lot. I also watched TV. It might seem like only a means of escape, but it's also a good way to study the craft of story-telling. And it can be a source of inspiration.
Beyond that, I plugged away whenever I could. Instead of 2000 words per day, sometimes I wrote none. But sometimes, I managed 100 or 300 or even 1000.
It took me until the final twenty-five percent of the manuscript to feel like I was really "into" the story. The words finally began to flow.
Considering how stretched out the writing time was, revisions are sure to be brutal. But as they always say, you can't edit a blank page. I have my rough plot and my characters, and that's all that matters.
So if you're struggling with your WIP like I was (or any bigger project!), know you're not alone. Sometimes life takes over. I think the only thing you can do is to give yourself some time, do things that inspire you, and ultimately, keep trying.
Even if you're slow. Even if you think the day's work was crap.
You can't edit a blank page, but you can edit an eight-month-old, 50,000 word rough draft. And you can be proud as hell you managed to get that far.
Have you ever been blocked from writing or other creative work? What did you do to get going again?