Tag Archives: writer’s block

Quick how-to: overcome a writer’s (or painter’s) block

Hi everyone,

As per usual, I’m not going to write a comprehensive guide on how to overcome the beast that keeps us from finishing (or even starting) that next (or first) novel. I just want to share with you an unexpected way I broke my own dry spell.

No, unfortunately I have not written another novel. Not yet. But I’d managed, after two months of being frozen in limbo, to paint another portrait. It’s not quite finished, but I wanted to share it anyway.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to finally break a spell that was hanging over me – I just could not finish another painting I started. I was stuck. I’m not sure if it was fear that I don’t know what I’m doing or boredom of having gone just far enough. Maybe both. Maybe that’s why I have not finished the third novel in Isa Maxwell series – I got to a certain stage and just was not sure or interested in going through the polishing up stage. So I decided to move on from the not-quite-finished painting and try something new. Here it is, in case I forget it altogether.

Not only that, the portrait above is a character for a new novel, and in a completely new genre, a blend of a psychological thriller with some knife-to-the chest drama. Fingers crossed, I will get into it soon enough – the characters are starting to talk in my head, which is what I loved so much about writing my first two books.

So if you find yourself stuck or struggling to continue – maybe don’t. Put the draft in a drawer and start something new. Who knows, maybe it will lead you on to a completely new path. I hope mine does.

Wish me luck!

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Worst writer’s block and best excuses for it, ever!

I can’t believe that my last post was nearly a year ago! Before you write me off as just another wannabe without stamina and staying power, let me rattle off the reasons why. They are all really good excuses…

Since there are so many of them, and because my mind is warped by years of project management and corporate reporting, I shall present them in this easy to read, unemotional dot-point format:

1. Literally two weeks after my last post, I broke up with a boyfriend of five years. That by itself is a pretty good excuse to forgo writing for a while in favour of drinking cheap wine while wearing pyjamas, eating Cheetos, and watching endless reruns of the “Big Bang Theory”, but then…

2. The next day I turned 41. Turning anything 40+ is pretty traumatic under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you are newly single.

3. And, as it turns out, it’s even worse when you are homeless. In the weeks prior, my home sweet home was repeatedly invaded by swarms of termites, the flying, mating kind. Out of obligation (and disgust), I reported the unwanted subleasers to the landlord. Little did I know that he would return the favour with an official-looking letter requiring me to vacate the premises in 60 days, so that the floors could be torn up and hundreds of litres of poison pumped into the soil below. I had every reason to believe he was the cold-heartedest landlord ever, until…

4. I’ve tried to rent a place with my dog. My adorable, miniature, house trained (sort of) Italian Greyhound. The only houses and apartments available to dog owners were complete dumps, the kind where I was sure to descend into depths of post-partum depression. Then it occurred to me, that at 41 I should shape up and buy a place of my own. Except…

5. I had all of 6 weeks to do it. Well, 10 weeks, after my tear-stained emails convinced the landlord to give me a month’s extension. How hard could it be? Apparently not as hard as…

6. The slap in the face I’ve received at work. My pet project, my baby if you will, was taken away from me with “thanks, we got it from here”. I was effectively demoted, although thankfully without loss of pay, which would have made the point #5 above practically impossible.

Let me pause here for a moment and reflect on where I was last April or so. At the rock bottom, ladies and gentlemen! Agh, the flashbacks! The horror…

Thankfully, this is where my alter ego, Miss Fix-it, stepped in to clean up the mess. Ok, so Miss Fix-it did have an occasional cry about it, but that was not all she did. She also:

1. Viewed over 50 apartments for sale in about a month. I still have the spreadsheet to prove that it was not just a cheap wine-induced nightmare.

2. Bid at three auctions and made two offers, including signing a deposit check with a shaky hand. Got outbid and had the check returned, with a mocking, red-hot “cancelled” stamp across its face.

3. After waiting a respectable 3 months, signed up for online dating. Went on a few dates, but mostly got material for a future book, a chicklit number about how hilarious it is to date in your 40s. It really is, if you drink enough.

4. Applied for jobs, so far six. Went to two interviews, but mostly got material for a future book, maybe something motivational, along the lines of “keep trying, even if you get beat by internal candidates” or whatnot.

I’d like to tell you that all those efforts paid off…that I lived happily ever after…funny enough, I can!

I bought an apartment, not the kind I set out to buy (an older, Art Deco with character, drafts, and leaky plumbing). I got a 2-year old place with a wrap-around balcony, floor to ceiling glass, brand new appliances, heating and cooling. I even pulled up the carpet in the living room and polished the concrete floor underneath, so that my dog can piss anywhere she pleases. It’s small, but it’s oh-so-me.

I also found a new boyfriend. Sorry, fiance – he surprised me right before Christmas! He is also not at all what I expected (a middle-aged man with a couple of kids, baggage and beginnings of a beer belly, who would watch TV and drink stubbies while I made dinner). He is gorgeous, fit, kind, and well-adjusted. He also gets up early every day and makes breakfast. Every single day. He is now in the kitchen, making dinner. Unreal…

The only thing that’s still not completely and utterly perfect is my job. But I’m not worried about it – Miss Fix-it is working on it. She also got a spreadsheet going of all the US agents that have received and will receive “Shizzle, Inc” submissions, but I’ll save it for another post.

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