A confession. I don't have all the answers. In fact, there are times when I think I don't have ANY answers - about writing.
I've said that 'writer's block' was really just another word for procrastination, or even lack of motivation, but now I think that's wrong. To those of you who read on and find that, really, I'm just slow at catching on to something everyone else knows, I apologise. The thing is that sometimes you have to experience something before it's truly known, and I haven't really experienced writer's block before. Honestly.
I changed my life's direction to do this thing - to write, and have spent the last month off work staring at the pages of the novel in progress. I've written: nothing. I began to berate myself, anticipating the self-admonishment for a lost opportunity once I return to work on Monday. However, I also like myself, and know myself, and wondered if this unusual response to writing was trying to tell me something and that I needed to listen.
I asked myself: Do you think you're not good enough? Do you feel 'pressured' because you've been lucky enough to have two novels published and now you're scared the novel in progress won't be any good and you'll lose face? Is there something wrong with the current novel and you need to face it?
There was an ounce of truth in the first two thoughts, but only an ounce (or two grams). Not feeling 'good enough' is a common feeling for writers; I'm used to that and, rather than let it deter me, I prefer to push myself a bit harder. If I feel 'pressured' it's only because I'm doing that to myself; nobody else is doing it.
But there IS something wrong with the current novel. It's not the one I should be writing now.
I believe it will be a great one (to me). I believe that what I've written already, when shaped, will, perhaps, be my best work. The thing is, it will have it's time and now isn't it. Why? Because I need something else. Writing, at least for me, provides me with joy and comfort and solace in the context of whatever else is going on in my life. When I haven't been writing these holidays I've been painting (walls, not canvasses); cooking aromatic spice dishes; gardening - all in all, creative stuff that has taken me away from writing. As I allowed this to happen, a new idea emerged. I battled that for a while. I'm the type of person who needs to finish what she's started and I felt guilty about the novel in progress and, more significantly, guilty about not continuing my characters' journeys. In fact I felt unfaithful. (That's a good sign and very much a reason to return to them one day soon.) So I promised my people I'd return, took out my journal and my pen and began … a new story.
The writer's block has diverted the stream for the moment, and this new story's flowing fast.