The Difference Between Stuck and Flow

Believe it or not, I have been stuck when it comes to my writing in the past few months. Sure, I had been super busy (a move and a wedding every weekend…I am beginning to wonder why Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn would want to crash so many), but that isn’t why I felt empty when I stared at the blinking cursor.

Whenever I wrote, I flinched. I worried about what the critics would say about the characters. I thought about what kind of reviews the book would get on Amazon. I had waking nightmares that every agent would not only reject the book, but they would have a bonfire party where they threw the manuscript into the blaze and dance around it, laughing.

I have an active imagination.

The problem was that I was not using my imagination for my characters or my world. I was using it to get in my own way.

Want to know how I broke the spell and am now flying through my daily word count? I am no longer worrying about other people. I am writing for myself. Sure, I will think about the readers and publishing literati when I get to revisions. But right now, I am writing a book that I want to read.

If I want to have the Spanish teacher say a ridiculous greeting, I include it. If I want my heroine to spout a zany pop culture reference that probably only I will get (P.J. Sparkles, anyone?), then I let her be confusing and talk about a horse with pink hair. Will these things disappear when I edit the book? Absolutely. But they are making the writing process easy and joyful right now, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Stephen King once wrote, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” If you want to get over the blank page and get to that state where the world of your book feels more real than the actual world, then you can only write for one person: yourself. After you have written “The End,” then you can open the door and think about your readers. But for now, write about what makes you laugh and cry because those are the things that will make your audience laugh and cry. 

Do you “close the door” when you write? What do you usually remove once you edit? Let me know in the comments below!

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