Creative work doesn’t so much have its ups and downs as it has mountains and Marianas trenches. One minute you’re riding high on a new project, thinking to yourself that every word you’re putting down is taking you up that mountain path, and then hours later, you’re wide awake in bed, sinking like Dexter’s tossing you down in his finest Glad bags.
It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a mean motorscooter of a business because there’s no one there to commiserate with you over a cup of coffee in the break room. No one’s going to pop into your office and tell you good job writing 12k or 15k words that day. No one’s going to understand or give a shit about your accomplishments, and they’re sure as hell not going to know when you’re riding a low of a long, hellish sales slump that just won’t end.
And that? That’s just on a day to day basis.
Now for me personally, I don’t get writer’s block. At least not the way you think of it. I’ve never really been gummed up when it comes to writing words – I can bullshit with the best of them, and if one project’s not going so hot, I just dick around with a character’s backstory or write up something about some otherwise inane piece of history in the novel itself. It’s wound up creating some of the better moments in my novels – the party scene in A Shot at Us, for example, is based off me just basically riffing and trying to decide where several characters should go. Same with the introduction to the Hammerdown in Ghost at His Back.
But I do get a variation on writer’s block, something of a business-end writing wall. There’s almost invariably a point right after I’ve finished a book and I come down off that momentous high to the realization that today is just another day. Finishing up a draft for a book isn’t going to somehow make my sales jump overnight. Finishing that book? That’s cool and all, but now, get to cracking on the business end. Rework your ads. Take a day or two break and then immediately start editing, because time is very much your money. And when you have so little of that to begin with, every second you’re not writing, even when it’s to handle the business or editing ends of things, feels like you’re wasting your time.
That’s my runner’s wall. That’s my moment when I want to say I’ve done enough, it’s time to go home and put my feet up for a few years. I won’t – I am starting to get savagely desperate to move, to start to take part in the world I love again – but it’s so very tempting.
Oh right. I finished a first draft of a fantasy novel. Journey of the Caged. Read it. Or… I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t know how to sell any of you on any of this. Runner’s wall. Writing wall.
Editing tomorrow, I guess.