Bursting through barriers to story

writer copyI’ve been so busy taking care of marketing demands for my three novels (Fling!, Curva Peligrosa, and Freefall: A Divine Comedy),  and finishing up the creative writing workshop I’m teaching at the Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning, that I haven’t had time to write new material, fiction or otherwise. Prose, especially non-fiction, is easy for me to produce. I can spin out words and sentences that end up making sense, as I’m doing here.

But writing fiction? It’s like digging a ditch or chipping away at the concrete of my brain to find a way back into a story. That’s why I usually have several projects in motion. I move back and forth between them. When I run into a dead end with one, I can enter a vein in another, carried along until something stops me again.

Still, it’s difficult to enter the almost trance-like state that enables me to generate new material and activate my imagination. There’s always a barrier I have to break through first before the narrative takes on its own energy, carrying me along with it. I’m assuming most writers experience this kind of resistance at some point. At its extreme, the resistance becomes dreaded writer’s block and takes us over.

Fortunately, it’s such a frequent visitor that I’m rarely overwhelmed when it happens. The secret is to not give the obstacle it tries to construct any power. I keep writing no matter what, even if it turns out to be gobbledygook at first. Freewriting is one strategy I use to soar past this opposition and find my way back into story. Once I do, I’m good until the next time this obstruction appears.


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