"The Horror, The Horror"

Katherine Longshore 4 Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Ugh.  Writer’s block.  I seem to be facing it now, writing this post.  How can a few paragraphs encompass the ugly morass of absolute horror that is a writing slump?  And how do I even begin to write my way out of it?

I guess I’ll start with the only way that’s coming to mind at the moment.  A story.  A little anecdote.  A harrowing exposure into my own life and mind.

Several months ago, I wallowed my way into the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever encountered.  This wasn’t just fear of the blank page.  Or even the fear of Book 2 that I felt last week.  This was like I had been cut off from my writing.  Like it had been severed from me – amputated – and I didn’t even feel the phantom limb.

It was like being lost.  Not lost as it would be now, carrying my trusty iPhone and its GPS in my pocket.  Not even lost like I was once or twice in Europe after I graduated from college.  It was like being lost as a child, in a sea of unknown.

And like a child, all I could do was cry.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I face writer’s block a lot.  I’m still facing it now, with Book 2.  I’m feeling my way through the dark with that one.  But at least I have a sense that there is a light somewhere.  I know, intuitively, where I need to be.  I know, from my editor’s notes, what needs to be done.  And I have faith (for the moment) that I’ll find my way.

But back then, I had no intuition.  I had no faith.  Perhaps if I’d talked to my editor (who is the most remarkably kind and understanding person, and who talked me off a ledge with the beginning to Book 3).  But really, how do you phone up a publishing professional and cry at her?  I couldn’t even talk to Bret when he called.

I can hear you all cringing out there.  Have you been through this?  Does the very idea strike terror in your hearts?  Do you want the answer?

I know I did.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have one.  But I can tell you what happened.  I shut down my documents.  Every single one.  I didn’t even post on the blog that week.  I couldn’t face the written word – at least none of the words I had written.  So I cleaned.  I baked cookies.  I took care of my family.  I went on long, long walks.  I seized every encouraging word and e-mail like a life raft.

I cried.

And the worst didn’t come.

It didn’t last forever.

Our theme this week is “Pulling Out of the Slump”.  And I have all sorts of tricks and advice for dragging my own idle carcass out of a little slump.  The best for me, right now, is “Just keep writing.”  I have a deadline.  I’ll feel my way out eventually.

St. George slaying the Dragon
But that.  That was…something else.  And the best thing I did then was just stop writing.  Athletes, when they’re injured, stay off the field.  I don’t know what kind of injury I sustained.  I don’t know how to prevent it from happening again.  But I stayed off the field, and now I’m back in the game.

Let me just say that I hope this never happens to you.  But if it does, think of this, and take some time off.  It is hard – so hard – to start up again, facing the fear.  But the time I spent not writing was worth it.


(((hugs))) You brave girl!!! We all feel better when we know we're not alone!!!

It DOES sound like a horror! And you conquered! You inspire me.

I think the athelete analogy is very precise and helpful. It sounds like you did exactly the right thing, Katy. BTW--is that Blenheim? Looks very familiar.

Thank you, ladies! Support from people like you really helps.

And yes, PB, the maze is Blenheim! Good eye! St. George was at Windsor.

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