Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not writers' block. I get writers' jam.

I often think, What am I going to write today?
It must be lovely to be a crime writer and know that you are going to sit down and continue with the main plot, a red herring and a sub-plot. Or how about a romantic novelist who will switch on her computer knowing that her hero and heroine are waiting for her together with a complete cast of characters?         
Some days I wish I was a novelist. Instead I am a butterfly writer. I gave myself that label. It means that I flit from one thing to another.
A typical morning begins with me switching on the computer, staring at the screen and wondering what to write. Does that sound familiar? What I should do is decide the night before which tasks I am going to undertake the following day but the order of tasks is put off until the last minute. Why? Because of Writers’ Jam. Jam as in traffic jam. The ideas are queuing up in my head but where do I start?  My ideas are like an assortment of vehicles lining up, jostling for position.
My book, a magnificent (hopefully) Rolls Royce, revs its engine loudly. Choose me. A deep honk from a sturdy family saloon sounds urgently. That’ll be the host of emails that need replies. And then there’s a chorus of tiny beeps from a medley of Minis - the short story department.
This morning I heard a tiny splutter from an apologetic little Robin Reliant.  ‘Don’t forget me. I’m important too.’ Yes, you are. It’s my regular piece, Novel Ideas, for Writing Magazine and with the deadline looming I allow the little three-wheeler to manoeuvre its way to the front of the queue. It smirks up at the Rolls. ‘My turn,’ it says. 
I have managed to prioritise. Novel Ideas is first today. Prioritising is something I am always trying to perfect.

We hear too much about Writers’ Block, especially as it doesn’t exist. If you think you’re blocked go and do something else. You probably only need a change of scenery, a bit of stimulation. Writers’ Jam does exist. Perhaps it isn’t mentioned because it sounds rather pompous. ‘I’ve got so many ideas I don’t know where to begin.’ Believe me, Writers’ Jam is out there and a lot of writers don’t know how to cope with it. It is too easy to sit and wonder which project to work on and maybe flit from one to another. And that’s why I’m a butterfly. 

15 comments:

  1. Like you, I'm a bit of a writing butterfly - flitting from novel to edits to stories. I'm on the fence with 'writers' block' though. I suspect it might be something easily dismissed if never experienced (like stage fright in an actor). I have times when I just can't think what to write - not because I have too many idea jamming my mind but because... I can't think of anything to write! Whether it's writers' block or not I have no idea but it's unsettling. As you said, the best thing to do in these situations is have a complete writing break (I've just done this in the Lake District and have come back refreshed and with new ideas.

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    1. Writers'block has never been proven to exist. I suppose if you believe in it, it will be there. I don't believe in it, so it isn't. Thoughts become things, Wendy. See tut.com

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    2. Writers'block has never been proven to exist. I suppose if you believe in it, it will be there. I don't believe in it, so it isn't. Thoughts become things, Wendy. See tut.com

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  2. Have you tried morning pages? Sometime that's good for helping to think clearly and plan the rest of the day.

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    1. Thanks, Kevin, but they didn't work for me. In fact I found the whole book depressing. Thankfully, especially for Julia Cameron (I think that's the writer) we're not all the same.

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  3. I often suffer from Writer's Jam and that is why I make so many lists. I have a pad on my desk where I have split my writing jobs over the week to help me prioritise. I have tried morning pages and I am rubbish at doing them. It becomes just another thing to add to the list. I prefer to take a break, do some knitting, walk the dog, stare into the fridge, play solitaire and then I seem to get back on track.

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    1. You're so lovely. Miss you. And your lists and flitting around.

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  4. Another fabulous post Lynne. Original as ever.

    I NEVER have loads of ideas. I used to find it scary and rather annoying (why don't I when other people can walk to the end of the street and come back with a headful!) but I've stopped worrying abut it because in the end something always emerges.

    What are, is, morning pages?

    I'm sure it's best to 'take a break' if nothing's happening. Bit like getting up in the night and doing something if you can't sleep, rather than just lying there getting furious cos you can't!

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    1. http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/

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    2. Sue, try morning pages and see if they work for you. Otherwise stick to the goofing around which is what I always advice.

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  5. Thank you. I'll have a look see. But as I always take your advice Lynne goofing around sounds good to me ;-) xx

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  6. Ah this so resonates - writers' jam. it all makes so much sense. I'm a flutterby too :-) xx

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  7. Writer's block always sounds solid, immoveable and insurmountable to me. Whereas Writer's Jam comes across as sweet and enticing and something you can spread as thickly, or as thinly as you like, devouring it in bite-size mouthfuls. :-)

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  8. Don't believe in writer's block at all! I also get a bit jammed up with what to tackle first. If a deadline looms then its easy to know what to choose but when not, I lie in bed in a morning and think about the possibilites and choose according to my mood.
    Great post, Lynne. Don't change 'butterfly', spread your wings and continue to fly :)

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  9. Hi, Lynne, no I don't believe in writers' block. Unless it's the block of pages waiting to be filled. At the end of a day I like to put a note by the computer of what I'm going to work on the next day. For instance, date. Chapter 9 of rewrite. Then a few sentences to outline what I'll be writing about. It works for me.

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