I had never planned to write this blog post, but my writing took me by surprise this morning and I just couldn’t resist. It may take a little waffling, but stick with me; I do have a point to make.
I have been writing my latest WIP (The Caseworker’s Memoirs) for a while now, possibly four months, maybe a little less. It is made up of vital components that each requires a different voice and although I knew how the finished book would ‘look’ – I had never prepared for what happened last week.
With each project I work on, I find it much easier to split it into parts or sections. This collection of short stories was no different. I did my research, planned each short story individually and took each story as it came. Before I knew it, I had finished three out of the seven planned stories. My writing had never moved along so smoothly and fault-free before and I certainly didn’t want the writing mojo to suddenly stop, so I ploughed through writing three more stories that I had already worked out.
But last week, the writing mojo suddenly escaped away to someone more in need than me and I was left exhausted. Not only did I not know how to approach the last short story (one I had been struggling with ever since the idea was first conceived) but the important voice of Malcolm (my central character that joins all of the short stories together) just fell completely flat. I felt like a fraud; not knowing whether or not carry on with the project or to just scrap it entirely.
The problem is, mostly, perspective. What originally captivated me about this WIP was that it was something completely new to me, something that would take me out of my comfort zone and as far away from fantasy as it was humanly possible. This was a project that needed more umphs of realism, with a dash of authenticity and a gentle touch of sentiment. I was up for the challenge and I thought it would make me stronger as a writer.
Are you still with me? Trust me, I’m nearly there …
The short stories are all written from a third person perspective, telling the detail from an outsider looking in – the form of writing that comes more naturally to me. Malcolm’s insights and scribbling’s always was planned to be from the first person and that was another challenge.
So last week, when I set up in the local Costa, I knuckled down to start Malcolm’s story and I found the writing came out so rusty, boring and completely lacking in the three points I made earlier. It really pissed me off! No matter what angle I tried, it just didn’t work. The switch from third person to first person had obviously come too soon. I struggled with the concept and I found myself becoming extremely negative.
There was only one thing for it – I needed to take a writing break. A real break, no ideas being jotted down, no notes, no research, no looking over the stuff I’d already done. I stayed away from it altogether. At the beginning of the week, I really did see myself giving in and holding my hands up and admitting, rather sadly, that it had beat me.
Fast forward to today – a fresh pair of eyes, a rejuvenated self and I found the concept grab me again, just like it had done way back when, when the idea for The Caseworker’s Memoirs first started taking shape. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more! Seven sides of A4 – I had really impressed myself. It turned out to be 1850 words! My best record for writing in a morning.
I suppose the lesson I’ve learnt is that taking a writing break really can help you through the more tougher hurdles writers face. It’s not always smooth going you know.
On an update – The Caseworker’s Memoirs now has its own Goodreads page, so please support me by adding it to your to-read shelf by clicking here.
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