Stress is a real prose buster for me. I’m a worrier, who comes from a long line of worriers. Stress means I’m generally very focused on whatever the problem is, which makes it very difficult for me to focus on writing actual prose. Certainly not GOOD prose. I am, of course, a huge proponent of consistency and habits as a writer, so usually I’ll keep trying to write, but it falls flat and it’s really just going through the motions, trying to keep the mental wheels from rusting such that I wind up with a nasty case of page fright.
Then sometimes the stress is bad enough (or circumstances are busy enough) that I just…can’t write.
So then what?
Well, there’s stress eating, which I’ve been doing far too much of the last few weeks. We aren’t going to talk about the backslide with my weight other than to say UGH, and I need to get a handle on it STAT.
There’s also stress plotting.
Yeah, I tend to plot when I’m stressed and can’t write. This is, I suppose, a sign that when my usual channel of creativity is shut off, my brain has to find some other way to create. So as things draw nearer to the end with my grandmother (any day now), I find my brain engaged in peopling and plotting out a YA Mirus trilogy. It’s the rest of the story I briefly mentioned after our last trip to Texas that’s based on this character sketch.
I started a blueprint this morning since conflicts and relationships are starting to gel in my brain. Until a couple of days ago, all I really had was Emily and the general overall conflict she found herself in. Then I started figuring out more of my YA cast. This morning I figured out the love interest, and the assorted connections between the characters…lots of delightful details that figure into their motivations and the conflicts that will help drive the plot. The blueprint makes it real work, so I don’t feel so much like a slacker. It’s not forward movement on the book I’m “supposed” to be working on, but it’s still productive work.
What do you do when you can’t write?
As an aside and in the realm of “You should read this, it’s awesome and funny”
Tahereh Mafi wrote a fantastic post about 9 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Writers.
Also Chuck Wendig roasts a bunch of traditional writing advice with his usual, snort-inducing hilarity. Beverage warning before opening this one.