I have not been feeling creative or productive lately.
I started writing a new novel about two months ago. I wrote 100 pages right off the bat, but then I got scared that it was bad. I haven’t touched the novel for the past two weeks. In fact, right now I’m having a hard time even motivating myself to open the word document. I’m feeling uncertain about the story and where I was going with it. I’m worried that the whole thing is no good and I need to work on something else… but what?
I also have this finished novel that needs a complete structural revision. But again, I can’t seem to work up the creative energy to brainstorm what to do with it.
Then on Monday I tried to start something new. But my mind was blank, and my heart was full of fear. I wrote a few sentences then deleted them. Wrote a few more, deleted. In despair, I wondered if writing novels is what I should be doing with myself. Maybe I should give it up. Find a job where I can feel successful and productive.
In summary: I’m suffering from writer’s block.
And I find writer’s block to be incredibly disheartening. Because, first of all, writing is supposed to be something I enjoy, not something I dread. And second of all, how can I expect to be a successful, published author when I haven’t been able to write a full page in the past two weeks?
My husband and I are still working our way through Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success. Over the weekend, we read the chapter on detachment.
“You don’t give up the intention, and you don’t give up the desire,” I read. “You give up your attachment to the result.”
Naturally, I thought about writing. If I give up my attachment to getting published, will I be able to enjoy writing again? Maybe. But at this point I’m not even stressing about getting published. I’m stressing because I feel like I’ve lost the ability to write. I feel unmotivated, uninspired, uncertain.
Of course, Chopra has something to say about uncertainty, too:
“Uncertainty… is the fertile ground of pure creativity and freedom…The unknown is the field of all possibilities, ever fresh, ever new, always open to the creation of new manifestations.”
Oh. So all the uncertainty I’m feeling about my writing – that’s actually a breeding ground for creativity?
Chopra says yes:
“When you experience uncertainty, you are on the right path – so don’t give it up. You don’t need to have a complete and rigid idea of what you’ll be doing next week or next year, because if you have a very clear idea of what’s going to happen and you get rigidly attached to it, then you shut out a whole range of possibilities.”
This actually makes a lot of sense.
Right now, I’m unsure of where to go with my writing… Which means I can go anywhere. If I can only embrace the possibilities.
As a manuscript consultant, I often stress to my clients the importance of opening themselves up to all the possibilities of their novel before getting too committed to a single one. Sometimes, I tell them, we get so married to our FIRST ideas that we don’t realize they aren’t the BEST ideas. I always suggest brainstorming “what ifs.” Write down AT LEAST 20 different things that could happen in the story –- no matter how crazy or stupid they seem. The more open you are to possibilities, the more creative your writing will become.
Monday night I moaned to my husband about how I was feeling unmotivated and uncertain about my writing, and about how maybe I should be doing something else with my life.
“I think you should keep going with it,” he said. Then, after I complained a bit more, he said, “Or, I mean, if there’s something else you really think you want to be doing…”
“The truth is,” I told him, “I know I want to write novels and get them published. Whether I do it now or I do it later, I know that’s always going to be a goal of mine.”
So obviously, the intention is there and has been since I was a kid. The desire is there, too, and probably always will be. If I let go of my attachment to the result and embrace the uncertainty, maybe I can find my creativity and productiveness once more.
I’m feeling more hopeful today. Wish me luck.