MT McGuire Books

When the boring real world gets in the way…

Yes, it’s Christmas and Real Life just won’t go away. I’m all in. So, what does an author do when their brain stops working? What do you do when your mind is so knackered it stops even bothering to wander off? 

Well, here are some things that have helped me…

1. Keep in touch with your project. If you can’t write, do something else. Plan, draw your characters, even if, like me, you aren’t really very good at it. 

2. Use your precious free time constructively. If you are stuck, be positive. Do you have anything else on the market? If so, why not work on your on-line sales and marketing? Approach reviewers, visit forums and chat to other writers, read other people’s ideas… It can be cathartic — recently I found somebody on a forum in the same predicament as me, I got some great ideas and we had a good winge.

3. Let it rest and come back to it. if you’re stuck it usually means there’s something wrong. You may not know what it is but there’s nothing like leaving your subconscious to sort it out while you are getting on with other projects. Just as you are more likely to find the thing you have lost now, if you search for the thing you were looking for last week, so the solution to your current problem is far more likely to present itself once you start on something else.

4. Write something different but connected to the idea or characters in your story. Here’s an example. I am having trouble with The Wrong Stuff — book 2 of the K’Barthan trilogy. I’m 60,000 words in and it doesn’t feel right. Ideally, a day spent reading through it would probably throw up some glaring error and I’d smooth everything out. I don’t have a whole day though and I’m just getting into a bigger and bigger mess. A number of people have asked if I could tell the story of how the main character in Few Are Chosen, The Pan of Hamgee, met his boss, Big Merv. That would be fun to write, keep me in touch with my characters and if I give it away free, it might act as a good marketing tool for the book.

5. If you have down time during the day, driving for example, get a dictaphone. When I had my one and only high powered job I used to dictate scenes and then type them up at home. My brain was completely fried by that time but it didn’t matter as it was more like copy typing, I’d done the creative stuff in the car.

6. Talk about it. Not everyone ‘gets’ this. I’m not talking physical, can’t-keep-your-eyes-open-tired. Give me some coffee and I have no trouble writing when I’m like that. I’m talking about a very different thing. I can’t explain it properly because this is the first time it’s happened to me but, to hijack a hackneyed phrase, it’s like thinking through treacle. It’s when you’re overworked some part of your grey matter so badly that even the daydreams stop. 

I was feeling a bit glum about the whole scenario — not much hope of an end for a month or two as well. Then I found this thread on mobilereads. Most of this info is from there and there are some other excellent posts, too.

This isn’t the same as procrastination, it’s not the same as writer’s block, it’s not about lack of desire to write. These steps are about finding ways to hold onto the stuff that comes out of your brain when it’s fresh so you can write it up when it isn’t.

Right, now I’m off to sing some carols and eat some turkey! Happy Christmas everyone and happy writing.

Posted December 25, 2010 and visited 2663 times, 1 so far today

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