Thursday, February 28, 2013

Of Stubborn Muses and Forcing the Words

I've said it before and I'll say it again: my muse likes to torture me.

For months now, I've been working on Revival's sequel... And for months now, the words have made their way onto the page in a painfully slow trickle.

What's worse is that I want to write. I want the rush that comes with losing minutes, hours, and even entire days to bringing a new story to life on the page. There are very few things in this world I enjoy more than that feeling.

Only this time that wonderful "rush" was coming in fits and starts.

Before this week began, I was getting desperate... I'd started writing things that made absolutely no sense, narrative-wise. Entire pages that I knew would need to be scrapped later, just so I could trick my muse into offering up something worth keeping.

It, uh... Well, it was a bit sketchy there for a while.

I was all like...


...just so that I could put something down.

And my muse was all like...

(Because, apparently, my muse is Misha Collins.)

And I nearly lost it.

(Not me. Although I'm certain I made that face at some point.)

I was doing what I'd been taught. Write everyday, whether the words are there or not—eventually it will get easier and the words will be there.

Only, it wasn't getting easier and I hadn't found the words.

This method had always worked in the past. So why wasn't it working this time?

Clearly I needed a new approach...

So I just stopped.

I went a full four days without even opening Scrivener.

I read half of my TBR pile. I worked on other projects that I'd been putting off. I went to the movies. I went to the park. I had an adventure.

...And I didn't think about Book Two again until Sunday morning.

And you know what?

It helped.

I opened up the file on Sunday, spent half an hour easing my way back into the current chapter... And then I wrote 1,500 useable words before the day was out. Not exactly an earth-shattering amount, but enough so that I was happy.

As was my muse, apparently.

Since then, I've been on a writing high—for the first time in months, this project is back on track, and I couldn't be happier.

And in the process I learned that—sometimes—it's okay (and even helpful) to take a break.

Not to quit... Just to press pause.

Writing can be difficult at times, but it should always be enjoyable. If you aren't enjoying yourself, how can your readers? When it reaches that point, forcing the words may not help. 

So the next time you find yourself unable to force the words, just try pausing for a moment. Take a breath. Live your life.

...And then, when you're ready, try again.

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